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This article is written by Komal Shah, Content Head, LawSikho.

It seemed like my vocal chords had jammed up. The white-haired, stern-looking spectacled person sitting on the dais was repeating my name frequently – “Mrs Shah?” as if he were asking a question. I was just frozen at my place, staring at him and thereafter at the bunch of legal papers placed on the raised table in front of me, not having any clue about what to do next. The walls of the crowded room were closing in on me. My legs had become wobbly and there was a weird feeling in my stomach, similar to what I felt on the top of a roller coaster when it was about to slide down.

It looks like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Does this describe how you feel when faced with the prospect of entering a courtroom and representing a client before a bench? Do you know why? 

I have encountered this feeling very recently in an assignment with a client. I missed including something in my advice. The feeling described above is the exact feeling I felt when the client asked me precisely about what I had missed out. I didn’t know what to say. I went blank and tried to sneak out of answering. I did inform him later as I realised this, but by then, it was too late. I had lost the all too important credibility that would have left my status spotless with him. Like any other person, I began to justify myself – I was giving way more than I was paid, he doesn’t realise he’s up against bureaucratic machinery, this work is too much pressure etc. 

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There are many people who have dealt with varied assignments for clients, but when faced with the prospect of entering a courtroom or preparing papers for cases before a court or a tribunal, the feeling described above is how they feel – lost and clueless and attempting to escape.

In this duration, I was attending a self-development seminar series, where I decided to encounter this situation with the client. The leader confronted me with some questions, the first one being, “What’s the cause of the problem?” Of course, I went on about how the client was too demanding, how it was difficult to deal with the ways of the government, how they expect way more than is strictly written inside the rules and how they are totally unpredictable etc. The leader asked me once again: “What’s the cause?” and then it hit me. I wasn’t aware. If I had been in the same situation and thought about it enough, I would have been able to predict what the government would ask, what he needed to be prepared with, much before any request was made. I simply wasn’t prepared and this was the root cause for why I failed to advise him comprehensively. 

I decided to tackle this head-on. I researched out, studied and thought about each step in the assignment thereafter so that I knew what he would need and what he would ask for, way before he actually did. I was then able to answer all his questions, not only to his, but also to my satisfaction. But lack of preparation had caught me unawares. Even after giving more than twelve years to corporate law. Considering the dynamism with which company law is changing, someone who has just begun would probably need to double the preparation. Or sharpen it. And this is what I am talking about here. I am going to tell you what you will face while handling a corporate law and litigation assignment and how you can sharpen your preparation to stay one step ahead. 

No one will come to help you right in the middle of the assignment

We usually believe that we can learn something from someone who has already done something, by working for them or training with them. But this is just like expecting to know how to drive the car while sitting in the adjoining seat and observing the person who is driving the car. When placed in the drivers’ seat ourselves, we realise that the panorama is completely different and so we freak out.

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We then resort to a short cut and ask for help. It’s like asking someone to change the gears and press the accelerator and break while you continue to be in the drivers’ seat. Obviously, no one turns up. When you are faced with an assignment from a client or a task assigned to you by your management, you have only so much time to deal with it. You can’t spend ages in research and trust me, your seniors, your friends, your acquaintances – no one will be able to help you convincingly at that time. Even if they tell you what to do, you wouldn’t be sure if that’s correct or complete. And why should they bother? It’s your client/job, your life, your problem. 

The only way to deal with this is to prepare, way before you are actually handed an assignment/task. You shouldn’t even need to have to ask them. You must have exposed yourself to the panorama way before you actually begin to drive. This is why we curated the Executive Certificate Course in National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Litigation not just to inform you about the basics of company law and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, but to give you a degree of self-sufficiency in what needs to be done. You’re in the drivers’ seat from week 1. Your environment will be made as near as possible to what you are likely to face in reality. 

When you’re in the middle of an assignment, nothing on the internet will give you a complete plan of action

We have resorted to ‘Google Baba’ even in our unexplained stomach aches or headaches, so there’s absolutely no doubt we will scavenge it through for an assignment we don’t know how to handle. And we will find lists of actions almost everywhere. But none of them will tell us all the steps. Most will miss out on a couple of things and the rest will simply list it as if you are already aware of all the details. For example, how does it help just to know that you have to make an application to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to convene a meeting of members and creditors for approving a scheme of arrangement? What should the application contain? Can you request NCLT to dispense with these meetings? How will you manage to do that? These things wouldn’t be answered for sure. Another example – the internet list of actions will state that you need to file an affidavit in reply to a petition, but who is supposed to sign the affidavit? What should the reply contain? No one will tell you this for free on the internet, because they themselves had a lot of difficulty learning it. If they tell you this all too easily, wouldn’t you be smart enough to take their clients without putting in the efforts?

That’s why for the LawSikho courses, we have faculties who don’t hold anything back from you. They’re eternal learners themselves and they are not worried that you will snatch their clients. No steps will be missed here. With faculties who handle NCLT cases day in and day out, you can count on the fact that they know very well what happens inside the courtrooms. They will tell all. 

Unless you have already “done” something before, you will not even be able to think about what comes next

If you haven’t driven before, you wouldn’t know how to think like a driver. Right in the middle of the road, you wouldn’t be able to improvise and react immediately as driving demands. So does the field of law and litigation. While in a courtroom, unless you have already played the devil’s advocate for a situation before you entered the room, you wouldn’t know what is going to come up. Being unprepared in litigation means you will actually live what I described in the opening paragraph. 

However, if you have already faced how it is to be in a pickle, your method of thinking is groomed to seek solutions, rather than curse luck. If you have been placed in the middle of problematic situations one too many times, you will even know the right place to look for solutions. If you have not faced tricky circumstances, it makes sense to create these and then face it. At LawSikho, you will have to encounter one problematic situation every week. However, you will not deal with it alone. It will be a combined attack, bringing in the thought processes and insights of everyone in the classroom. You will discover perspectives you were simply not exposed to, before. Even our faculties have vouched for opening up of new paradigms by collective sharing (see here). With every week that you work on an assignment, your mind will be groomed on how to tackle sudden unknown problems and where to look for solutions. You will have “done” things in your head much before actually doing them. 

However knowledgeable you are, the person who gets the job done takes the cake

This is how all clients operate, like it or not. You may be aware of all sections and rules and regulations governing a task, but unless you know how it is put into action and implemented, someone else will swoop in and take away your client. For example, it’s not enough to know what goes into a petition. Where does it need to be submitted? How many copies? What are the fees? What are you going to do if your matter isn’t even listed for months? Unless you know the end to end of a process, you will not be able to implement it and achieve the result that a client wants. Clients are interested in the end results and not the spadework that you had to do. The more empowered you are about how to work things, the faster you will be able to whip up the results with lesser efforts. 

As you probably know by now, LawSikho courses don’t come from textbooks. These come straight out of people’s experiences and really sharpened research. This kind of focussed and implementable learning on how to deal with NCLT matters both in company law and IBC isn’t even available at any cost, let alone for just Rs.22000. We’re going to increase the prices from 1st November for this course because we want to make available the benefit of more practitioners’ experiences to students willing to tackle their lack of preparation head-on. We want to make them such that there are very rare situations they cannot find their way out of. You have two days to get in on this side and get access to practical learning, while someone who misses out will end up paying for the benefit you get. The other alternative is to lose a few clients and learn – think about what that will cost. 


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