This article is written by Anirudh Vats, 2nd year student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala.
Man is by nature a traveller. We were meant to explore our surroundings and take in as much of the world as we can. But we have shut ourselves out from the world and live our lives in 8×8 rooms in front of screens all day.
Law School may seem like a boring, academic and difficult place to the outside eye, and it is in a lot of respects. But one lesser known perk of Law School is travelling. This may be due to travelling as a result of moot court competitions, debates etc. or attending conferences, seminars or even just a vacation.
Participating in Competitions (Debates, moot court competitions, extempore competitions etc.)
I’m going to start with a personal anecdote. One of my aims in my first year at Law School was to get over my fear of public speaking. I had debated in my school years but was always bogged down by anxiety before going up on stage. Three teams from our first year decided to go for the Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University Annual Parliamentary Debate Competition to Lucknow.
We booked our tickets and packed our bags, and the morning of the train journey finally dawned. The train ride was fun, as the 9 of us were joined by more students who were travelling to Lucknow for the debate and we had great conversations and talked over points to excel in the debate.
On reaching Lucknow, we took an auto to the University, and our rickshaw driver gave us pointers to get around the city, where to eat, where to shop which places to see etc.
The debate went well for us, we won 3 rounds out of the 5 preliminary rounds, but due to our low margin of victory, we could not qualify for the semifinals, but I considered it a victory, since I finally was comfortable speaking on stage and articulating my thoughts on the fly.
But that was only part of the experience. On the first night, we went out for dinner to Tunday Kababi restaurant in old Lucknow, arguably the most famous eatery of the royal city and we were blown away by the sumptuous Kababs. What added to the experience were the narrow crowded streets full of diverse people, food and cultures.
We walked around for two hours in old Lucknow, fascinated by the richness of culture and diversity around.
The Second day we went sightseeing, saw the Bada Imambada, a colossal monument known for its maze, the Rumi Darwaza and also ate the most delicious Biryani at a well known local eatery.
The overall experience was truly memorable, as we got acquainted to an ancient city with a beautiful history and culture, and met a lot of new people and made lifelong friends. It was truly the best part of my first year in Law School.
Therefore, my advice is to take on as many opportunities as you can to go out to another city or university and participate in competitions, to not only develop your skills and excel, but to also gather experiences and make memories that will last you a lifetime.
These competitions usually last for 4 or 5 days, which gives you enough time to explore wherever it is you are travelling to, soak in the local culture and experience the inimitable feeling of getting to know a new city.
You can go to debate competitions, moot court competitions, research and content-writing based competitions as well competitions based on arbitration, mediation, negotiation etc.
Moot Court Competitions are also a great option to travel in this way. First and foremost, they provide you with a lot of knowledge as to how one should conduct oneself in court and what your demeanour should be in front of a judge, along with practical skills to become a better litigator, once you graduate. Often, moots also have international rounds, where if you qualify you have to go abroad for the next round, which is a tremendous opportunity to travel and explore new countries and cultures.
These competitions are conducted throughout the year all over the country as well as abroad, and participating in them and travelling as a result of that can be a very enjoyable and memorable experience for a law student.
Travelling as a result of Internships
Another great way to travel is through opting for internships outside your home city or state. In my first year, I did an internship at a Human Rights Organization based in Mumbai, and had a wonderful experience.
This experience can be even more fulfilling because you get to take in and experience a new city for at least a whole month. My one month in Mumbai was far from easy, getting around the traffic and the hustle of a huge city like Mumbai was tiresome and draining, but it is an experience I cherish anyway.
I made a lot of friends at my internship who will by my friends for life and we keep in touch till date. I also got to learn a lot about Human Rights, their importance in contemporary times as well as the ways in which they are violated in our country.
Therefore, I would advise everyone to get involved in internships outside their native city or the place in which their university is and travel to new cities, have new experiences with diverse people.
Interning at State Human Rights Commissions, the High Courts of different states, or even big firms based in different cities are great options to intern at useful places and travel and experience new cities as a result.
The best part is, in 5 years, you will get the opportunity to intern at least 10 times, which means there will be ample opportunity to travel to new places.
A lot of learning in life is gained from travelling to new places and having new experiences and internships are a great way to achieve that because they combine academic learning with the philosophical teachings you imbibe by gaining a new experience by travelling.
Attending Seminars and Conferences
This is another great way to travel, learn and further your career in the legal field. All around the country, at any point of time, there are so many lectures, seminars, conferences taking place, where legal experts, lawyers, diplomats, administrators etc. come to teach students about essential subjects a lawyer should know about and share their secrets of success in the field.
Attending these programs can be really beneficial, as they not only inspire a young person to excel and provide him/her with role models, but they also arm you with the practical knowledge and expertise you will need when you enter the workforce and start navigating the complex world of Law.
These seminars are a great way to meet new people with similar interests as well. You come across people who possibly have similar aspirations and outlook towards life, and you might just end up making new friends who can help you along in your journey towards success.
Networking is essential to get around in this field of law, which is already overcrowded and full of obstacles and hardship. These seminars and conferences also help you network well and put yourself out there and showcase your talent or expertise among peers from whom you can extract work or get a job in the future. It may be talking to your contemporaries and building professional relationships, or it may be advertising through your resume or your LinkedIn profile.
Therefore attending lectures, seminars or conferences can be a great way to network, travel, experience and learn and could be a big help in your life as a lawyer.
Attending Summer Schools and Exchange programmes
One of my good friends in college recently attended the Summer School at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and it was a life-changing experience for him.
He opted for an International Law course which would last a fortnight and include lectures, interactive sessions, practical teachings and research and writing.
The two weeks he spent there were immensely beneficial for him as he learnt a lot about international law, an area in which he wants to ultimately establish his career in, and gained a lot of exposure.
His class consisted of students from all around the world, who had unique perspectives about the world and the law. He had the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and learn from prolific professors of law from all around the world.
Also, attending these programmes reflect very well on your CV, as it shows that you have experience in the subject from the very best institutions in the world.
Most foreign universities offer summer schools and exchange programs, even iconic universities like Oxford and Cambridge.
This can also help you in choosing the university you want to do your masters in and where you want to work after your studies are over.
The only downside, however, is the fact that often these programs cost a lot of money, and that is a big deterrent for a lot of students.
Taking time off and vacationing
Law school can be a stressful place. The academic year is crowded with submissions, assignments, exams, moot court competitions coupled with the social stress a university exerts on an individual. This can take a toll on a young student. Therefore it becomes important to take a few days off sometimes to regain your strength and relax your mind and body.
My university is in Patiala, which is actually very close to Himachal Pradesh. Often on long weekends, we just get on a bus to Chandigarh and two hours later, we are driving up the Himalayas, soaking in the fresh air and the lush green mountains.
The transport is really cheap if you travel through the state bus transport and even the stays are inexpensive because we stay in hostels where a lot of travellers bunk in search of frugal travelling.
A weekend in the hills can be the perfect respite from the stressful routine of law school, and we experience the hills without even missing a class.
Search for places close by to your university, where you can switch off for a few days, reconnect with nature, slow down your life and experience the beauty that is inherent in travelling.
Most universities also organize trips to nearby tourist spots, so keep on the lookout for that.
My university routinely organizes trips to famous hill stations which also includes famous treks like the Triund trek in Mcleodganj.
A trek can be a great way to have a productive, fulfilling and satisfying vacation, where you not only travel, but also test your body and mind and rekindle your humility towards nature.
Travelling is an essential part of life and should not be considered a luxury. People should find ways of incorporating regular travelling in their everyday lives, and law school provides you with the perfect opportunity to combine your wanderlust with your professional life. Students can be productive, constantly learning new things, and evolving as people while travelling to different cities and experiencing new things.
Law school can be a truly enriching place when combined with travelling and diverse experiences. Therefore, students should strive to find opportunities to get out of their native cities and explore their surroundings and in the process discover themselves as well.
Travelling is known to trigger a spiritual side in people and help them find their essence, and students have a lot of opportunity to travel.
So, in conclusion we listed and described how students can use their time in law school to travel, whether it be by participating in competitions, doing internships in different cities attending seminars and conferences, attending summer schools or exchange programs or even just good old vacationing.
These experiences can shape you not just as a lawyer, but also as an evolving person, and will help you in making memories and friends that will last you a lifetime.