This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho

Should I become a criminal lawyer?

Or should I become a media lawyer?

Should I just become a judge?

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Or an entrepreneur?

This question is bothering almost every law student, and young lawyers. It should bother the old lawyers too, and if it’s not bothering you then you have perhaps stopped growing.

Think of one of India’s most famous lawyers, Harish Salve. He has gone from being a CA to a lawyer. Then a top tax lawyer. Then constitutional law cases. Then criminal cases. Now he is focussing on a career in international arbitration.

Every time he reaches the top and then reinvents himself.

You are never too big to consider what is the next big thing to do. If you decide to take a break and chill, have a kid, focus on meditation or race bikes, that’s also absolutely fine.

I have a friend who runs a very successful boutique law firm and earns about a couple of crores a year. It took him 10 years to build that practice. He is planning to shutter his law practice and begin a new chapter in life as an entrepreneur.

He will have to learn everything from scratch. Technology, marketing, sales, and other things he has no idea about. He literally spends a few hours every month learning web development. And you know what? I have never seen him more excited.

Another lawyer I know (I would have loved to name him but he detests publicity), was a few years back, the go-to startup lawyer in Delhi. In 2014, they did over 30 VC investment deals. He made several crores a year. In 2016, he shut down his firm and moved to Goa. He fired all his juniors, who are now working in places like Trilegal, CAM, JSA etc (thanks to the experience of working on good deals). Last time I met him, he said he is focussing on a personal journey, of yoga and meditation.

Knowing him, he will probably move to silicon valley and start some kickass startup in another year or two.

So to all the law students and young lawyers who are trying to make the perfect career decision today, please get some perspective from the above stories. You have no idea what you might end up doing after 10 years.

When I joined law school, I was 100% certain that I will become a diplomat after studying law. It gave me the impetus to crack the law entrance and gain formidable knowledge of trivia generally known as General Knowledge which I knew can eventually help me to crack UPSC.

Then in law school, I wanted to be a great commercial lawyer, so I learned everything I could about structured finance and investment law. I cancelled my plans of working as a diplomat.

When I got a job in a big law firm, it depressed me. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. And I had no idea how hard it will be and how long it will take. At that time I assumed I will get rich in a few years.

Nonetheless, I jumped in and learnt what I had to, and I have been growing ever since. I may or may not have found my true calling, but I have a mission today. I will be whatever I have to be for this mission.

Salesman? Telecaller? Done.

Content marketer? Done.

Teacher? Done. I will do whatever it takes.

I can tell you something, you cannot know and should not know what is your destiny.

You need to have a plan. You need to have a destination that inspires you. You need to embark on a journey.

However, it is almost certain that you will get it wrong.

Does not matter. Pursue whatever you pursue will all your passion, heart and energy like it is the last thing in the world you can ever do. Do it like there is nothing beyond it.

Succeed in it.

Then the universe will tell you what is the next step.

All the steps you take, the things you learn, the people you get to know, the mistakes you make, all will add up one day and make your journey make sense. Like Steve Jobs said, you cannot connect the dots looking forward. You will look back many years later and in hindsight, it will all make sense.

When I was a law student, I decided to teach for IMS, build content for CLAT for them, started CLAThacker as an experiment, went around the country promoting their CLAT courses, and had no idea that I will end up building a legal education platform one day. I was thinking I was doing all that for the money, to pay the college fee and afford a good lifestyle.

In reality, the universe was training me for the real work I had to do ahead. What I am doing today. If I planned it myself, I doubt I could come up with something so amazing with my limited rationality and vision.

A major reason for success of the first generation Macintosh computer was the beautiful fonts it had. Where did Steve Jobs learn that? One day, in college, he aimlessly sauntered into a calligraphy class. And then he took that course for fun. And that was a big asset of the computer he will help to build one day. Who knew? Who could foresee?

Do what Steve Jobs did. That is, do what interests you. Do what your heart calls for.

Does cyber law interest you today? Please go for it. It doesn’t matter if you will end up being a tax lawyer or judge instead. Maybe you will write the most powerful judgments about taxation of crypto assets? Maybe you will influence India’s policies towards cyber terrorists? Who knows.

What interests you today but confuses you at the same time because you can’t foresee your future and because you are afraid of making career mistakes? Let me know. Reply, I will read everything personally. Let’s talk about it.

Don’t worry, you will make mistakes anyway. Make them fast, get done with them, move ahead, learn as much as you can in the process.

I never say that my one year stint in a big law firm was a waste, though I suffered at least 6 months of depression in the process. Or a mistake. It was great learning. Now I know how to build courses for lawyers who want to work in law firms. I know how to train law firm lawyers because I know what environment, pressure and challenges they face.

Confused between IPR and public policy? Don’t worry, spend time learning both. Who knows you may set up India’s most powerful IPR think tank one day!

Give the universe a chance. All you have to do is passionately learn, give attention and progress in everything that comes before you.

If you had no worry about what you will do in the future, is there any area of law you will want to learn deeply? Here are some courses we have lined up in the next 45 days. Pick something.


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