Non-metro High Courts
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This article is written by Sharanya Ghosh, a student of Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA.

The Guest Speaker

Abhijay Negi is from Dehradun and completed his graduation from National Law University, Jodhpur. He also specialised in Comparative Human Rights and Comparative Equality Law from Oxford University and as of today is working at the High Court of Uttarakhand as an independent lawyer.

The Host

Sammanika Rawat is an internationally accredited Mediator and has worked in Banking and Infrastructure Projects as a corporate lawyer. She is a proud environmental activist at the grassroot level and is now helping students at LawSikho find their dream jobs and promotions. She is currently holding the post of Career Coach and Head of Placements at LawSikho.

Why should I go for Constitutional law? 

Constitutional law is only constitutional law. It is applied with different kinds of law. It can be applied to most public law fields and helps change the system, generally for the better. Thus, constitutional law is important, whether it is applied by the Supreme Court or High Courts regardless of whether they are situated in metro cities or not. 

What is the current level of constitutional law practice in non-metro High Courts?

It is not as if constitutional law is not practiced in non-metro High Courts; it is simply something that a lot of legal practitioners in the small towns shy away from. In fact, a lot of people feel that quality work is not carried out in non-metro High Courts. While this may be true in comparison to metro cities, there is a lot of progress being seen in these parts of our country as well. 

Why do non-metro High Courts generally not apply constitutional law?

Unfortunately, there simply seems to be a lack of people who are willing to go into the throes of constitutional law. The work environment is such that people may end up withdrawing from constitutional law. Thus, the onus of creating a proper work environment falls on the new legal practitioners. Constitutional law can aid and assist any field of law. Invoking Articles of the Constitution actually gives one’s case a kind of sanctity. However, in metro cities, one may even be mocked for trying to draw inferences from the values and morality of the Constitution. People may be good at procedural or local laws but in such matters, it appears to be unconventional. 

Why should I go for constitutional law in a non-metro city?

The reason why it is highly beneficial to go for constitutional law in non-metro cities is that it is often avoided by most lawyers. Not only will it give you an edge over other lawyers, it will also help you in creating an example that others might follow. Constitutional law, the values, morals and ideals of the Constitution can all be used to strengthen a case and often provide some basic principles that may even help in setting new precedents. Thus, practicing constitutional law in these cities and towns can be highly beneficial for a lawyer.

How should I start my career in a non-metro High Court?

At the first level, it is generally advisable for most to find a suitable senior advocate to work under. By that, Mr. Negi meant a person who is senior to you in the profession, not the actual designation. The kind of senior you go for depends on various factors but working under someone is quite helpful in understanding how courts work. There is a lot that one may do at the initial stage of the career so they should do as much as they can in the first few months.  

Should I start from the district and sessions courts or can I practice directly at the High Court?

Starting by working for at least a few months at a district level is very important. It helps you in understanding several procedures and studying trials in general. Working at district courts during internships is also highly advisable. At a High Court, there are cases that come directly to the High Court and then there are cases that are appeals from lower courts. In the latter, it is often necessary to be familiar with the processes and nuances of the district courts. Thus, you should avoid directly working at the High Court without being familiar with the system.
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How should I approach a senior if I wish to work under them?

After establishing that you are interested in working under a particular senior, it is important for you to reach out to them. This you may do by either connecting with their juniors, or you could directly contact them. It is essential that you drop an email or connect with them in a professional manner. You should be careful of how you approach them and clearly establish the kind of work you seek to perform and learn under them. 

How is the payment in non-metro High Courts?

The payment culture is not very great and most new lawyers suffer greatly due to the low income that they receive. The kinds of payments received from clients are low, due to which even big lawyers tend to save and hoard the money instead of paying their juniors. However, in recent times, a lot has changed and several lawyers are trying to involve their juniors in the payment process. There has been a considerable improvement with new lawyers in the past few years.

Which field should I start from in litigation?

There is no better or worse place to start. When you start litigation, especially if you are a first-generation lawyer, you need to take what you get and you need to take more. You need to do your absolute best and find different types of cases. Not only does this broaden your horizon and help you in understanding different kinds of procedures, you are able to identify the field you perform well in, or the field that you are interested to work in further. A lot of us take up law to change the system and the world. You should try to do your work sincerely; the rest will fall into place.

What is the difference between constitutional practice and practicing in tribunals?

High Courts have been naturally sensitised to the Constitution and its Articles and principles. Tribunalisation, on the other hand, is a fairly new concept in India. Tribunals are yet to be sensitised to Constitutional law and to understand the values of the Constitution of India. This is a major difference between the two since tribunals often take decisions that are mechanically based on law and do not fully understand the values of the Constitution. This is why there is a need for lawyers to settle in non-metro cities so that they can improve the conditions in tribunals as well.

Who is the best senior for me?

There is no specific answer for who the best senior is for you. It depends on the kind of person you are, the kind of senior you want and the overall working conditions you yourself aspire to have. It is up to you to discover the right senior for yourself, whether that happens right at the beginning of your career or later does not make much difference. However, you should be careful and understand that being too dependent on your senior is also not a good idea since you may end up working under them for longer than intended and might not be able to work independently in the future.

What is the difference between the High Courts in metro cities and non-metro cities?

There was always a stark difference in the quality of work between the metro cities and the non-metro cities; the type of drafting, the attention to detail and the overall quality of work all differ. However, this has changed considerably in recent times, especially with lawyers setting up work in smaller cities and towns. Non-metro lawyers are also often quite courteous as compared to metro city lawyers. With the advent of technology and new lawyers, non-metro cities have a lot to gain in the field of professionalism.

Why should I go for practicing in a non-metro city or town?

There is a lot of scope in smaller towns, especially since there is a lack of good lawyers in these areas. Not only that, the cost of living is much lower and the exposure is much higher. There are some cities and towns in non-metro areas with a lot of big industries and environmental scope as well. It is also important to give primacy to your personal choices. If you are from a non-metro city and want to settle in your hometown, you should go for it. Settling for a location instead of being happy is not recommended unless your career is the most important. But you can be successful as a lawyer in your own town or city as well. 

How should I start a job?

You need to push yourself to your limits and give priority to the first few months of your practice. Once you are able to push your limits, you will be able to challenge yourself. The first few months really matter a lot because it is in this time that you can learn a lot. You should also enjoy life, don’t simply throw yourself at your work. Being happy and living a balanced life is essential to be able to perform well at work. 

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