Sail like Sindbad: The Goal and Life in Law School

Republished from A First Taste of Law archives.

Sail through your life in law school

I got out of my hostel room at 4 in the morning. I had not slept yet, and I like the soothing breeze and sound of chirping birds that comes from my window early in the morning which turns into a hustle- bustle in the later part of the morning.

My friends have left almost no stone unturned in trying to teach me how harmful it is to stay awake till that late. However, at the end it zeroes down to your choice, this is the first thing that law school and hostel provide you with, liberty and independence to make your own choices which obviously comes with its own responsibilities.

Coming back to the scene from where I started, when I stepped out of my room to fill water in my empty bottle and looked around for my slipper, I found that one of them was missing. That was ridiculous, loss of a pair of slipper is understandable, but one slipper, who on earth will bother to take it!! With this thought in my mind, I started the hunt for my slippers, inside the room, in the alcove I live in, in the corridor – but alas my slipper seemed to have deserted me. Glumly, without my slipper, I went bare feet and came back after filling water, wondering over the next course of action – should I borrow a pair from someone, or should I go and buy a new one. Oh! the unnecessary hassle I will incur in going all the way to buy a slipper in my not-a-moment-to-die-schedule. It seemed to be the saddest thing to happen to me. Loss of my slipper!

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The case of lost slipper: How is it relevant?

The story of my lost slipper just provided you a scoop of things that matter when you are in law school, in the hostel. The frivolous thing you never bothered about at home seems to add to the mountain of things you need to do. From buying toothpaste to the servicing of your laptop, it’s you who is responsible for doing all of this. From getting your clothes washed to washing your own dishes, you are left absolutely on your own.
This independence permeates into academics as well, from worrying about projects, moots, conferences, committees, there are a hell lot of things to do and it’s just you who is responsible for all of it, amongst your caring, weird friends; Cut Throat, arrogant batch mates; cranky, roommate; bitchy neighbour; cocky seniors; “wicked” faculty. (Okay, I am not saying that you will find only bad people around you, I bet you will be able to find a good number of awesome people as well!).

In this sea of starfishes, whales, sharks, crocodiles and what not, you need to do the “finding Nimo” act. However, it will be only you who will be searching for yourself. Find an identity for yourself, a mission to accomplish before you lose yourself completely and before you are declared as a lost case.

Small, trivial things constitute your life in law school, adding the fun, tension, glumness, happiness quotient to it, the unwarranted special mess food can bring a big smile in your face while the discovery of the case of a lost slipper can send you into panic and depression. Sail through it, though there will be troughs and crests, but remember not to get drowned, at the end you will reach the shore, and your journey will better than that of Sindbad!

How do you make the smooth sail possible:

Don’t focus on the slipper.

The only way to survive in multitudes of things happening around you, some of which you do not control and do not want – is to focus on your goals. Don’t worry about the trivial – don’t break your head over things, not in your control. Work on the bigger picture – if you can achieve the biggest goals in your life, the small things are bound to fall in place. But do you have the bigger goals worthy of pursuing? Captain of a ship who doesn’t know where he should go with the ship is unlikely to have a great voyage. Decide on your goals early in law school, you are free to change them later – but through all the madness, one way to cut through and do really well is to have a mission to accomplish.

Case Study 1: Ramanuj: Joined law school after dropping a year to learn English. From a small town, went to a not-well-known Bengali medium local school. After joining law school, he was overwhelmed by the volume of academic work, hi-fi classmates, lack of social skills, his own inability to communicate and speak in proper English. After the first semester, it was difficult – he had few friends, couldn’t connect to most of the people around (again, his own fault). He focussed on one thing – problems. One day he made a list of things that were troubling him – finance, communication skills, not having contacts at desirable quarters (his own or his father’s), and he set out deliberately to solve them. He was driven by an ambition to be excellent – but doing well in the class did not seem to be a great goal for him. End of story, he ended up solving most of the problems he started with and had a very interesting journey through law school. He travelled far and wide, taught, started his own business, and voila, at one point he was doing academically well too – despite investing very little time in it.

Case Study 2: Abhyudaya: A batchmate of Ramanuj’s, Abhyudaya was a bright kid when he joined law school. Before law school happened, he lived in Peddar Road in Bombay, and went to a sought-after school in Bombay and earned his share of accolades. He defined hard working bright law school kid – and he was resourceful. Still, he wanted to do something extraordinary – something people could not predict he will achieve. He focused on tasks one at a time – doing well in exams, cricket, moot – the usual law school stuff. However, the success in the usual stuff can give you only mediocre satisfaction – hundreds of people have done it before you, thousands will do it later. He liked finance as a subject, and he focused on becoming an expert in corporate laws. He didn’t study it in order to do well in exams and get into societies and write a couple of articles – he did it to be a real expert at it, with real world benefits. By the time he was in 5th year, he was generally acknowledged as the expert that he wanted to be – in fact, the junior batch requested him to take classes for them outside the scheduled corporate law classes – so that they can learn what they thought the regular teacher could not teach them. When you reach this level – the smalls things people fight over becomes really insignificant – a chat with him, and any law firm will want to hire him, any client will be impressed, anyone will be happy to friend like him – great accomplishments and insights combined with great humility.
Both Ramanuj and Abhyudaya write for this blog – Ramanuj having started it in his second year in law school. Both of them work in a law firm in Mumbai as of now.

Take away: identify your goal and be sincere about it – life will take you where you want to go. Focus on the bigger picture, not the slipper and the mess food.
The idea of concentrating on the goals- pointed out and elaborated by Ramanuj Mukherjee.


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