This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

Your success in life, to a great extent, may depend on this one thing.

When I was young, the two people I used to turn to were my parents. I thought they were perfect. I thought they have a solution to all the problems.

Luckily, I figured out eventually that they have limitations too. They do not always know what is best for me. They certainly think so, but I am lucky to figure out the truth when I was young.

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Otherwise, today I might have become a heartbroken school teacher, depressed Infosys tech coolie or a sad doctor because they really wanted me to become one of those things irrespective of what I wanted to do with my life. However, law was something I chose to pursue, and much to their chagrin didn’t budge.

The advice I got at that time was from people like Sachin Malhan and various internet sources. I spoke to a few lawyers about the kind of work they were doing. I was convinced based on the evidence I found that law is a great career and that one can succeed in law without being a crook as my father thought I would become if I studied law!

Then there was my chemistry teacher. When he asked me why I am not writing the Joint Entrance Exam and I said I want to study law, and that I don’t want to study law at Calcutta University but at NLS Bangalore, he suggested that I should try my luck at Utkal University as well.

There are a lot of people out there who have no clue about things, but they wish you well and will try to give you advice according to their abilities.

So I like to do my own research. I go beyond the obvious stuff that is easily floating around us. I want to get my advice from the best in the world. I will go a long way to get that.

One easy place to find such information and insights would be bestseller books written by people who have actually accomplished something worthwhile in their life.

But remember, don’t get stuck picking advice from stockbrokers and don’t get medical advice from dieticians. Their objectives and your’s may not be aligned.

Stockbrokers want you to keep buying and keep selling stocks because only then they make fees. You are more likely to get richer by following what Warren Buffet does – buying the right stock at a low price and never selling it. But the stockbroker will never say so.

Dieticians don’t always want you to lose weight quickly. Just like some lawyers or arbitrators may not want your legal matter to get over too fast.

Conflict of interest is something to watch out for.

Conflict of interest doesn’t mean you will get bad advice.

But the best thing to do is to go beyond the advice and see what is the basis and if it takes into account evidence for and against.

Good advice does not only come from experts and accomplished people, but also from people who are ready to go beyond their personal interest. That’s a rare breed of ethical people.

Identify them, connect with them, surround yourself with them and hang on to them.

Who is advising you about your career?

Your law teacher? It’s fine to listen to them, but how much do they really know about how law firms work, how litigation is evolving, what matters are getting hot while what practice areas are in decline?

Your CS uncle? Does he know enough about the legal profession? Should you not find people who actually have been doing the kind of work you will want to do as a lawyer one day?

Let’s say you want to get advice on how to do well in litigation. Would you approach Ram Jethmalani for advice?

I will probably not. Ram Jethmalani came up the ranks probably 50 years back. Is that experience of any relevance to you? Someone who is 5-6 years ahead of you in the profession may be able to give more relevant information and advice.

Let’s say your brother and your grandfather both went to Cambridge. Whose advice would you take more seriously while applying to Cambridge? The one with more experience in life generally? Or the one who went more recently?

I hope you think about this. It’s going to be a critical factor in your career.

All the best.

If you want advice from me or my amazing team to talk to you about your legal career and how to take things to a new level by learning practical knowledge about law, then please feel free to reach out. Reply to this mail and we will schedule calls.

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