This interview has been taken by Areej Abdul Samad, Campus Leader at Lawctopus and a second-year learner at NALSAR University of Law.
Prisha Tejani is a fifth-year student at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. She has competed in several moot court competitions like the Willem C. Vis Moot and the Indian Vis Pre-Moot, representing her university and getting praised for performing well.
She’s also worked as a research assistant for people in high positions, in addition to securing internships at organizations like AZB & Partners, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Finsec Law Advisors etc. Apart from her academic pursuits, she loves reading and speaks five languages.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am a fifth-year student at NALSAR University of Law currently. I am from Bombay; I have always lived there. I like reading, I am fairly into fitness, and I am always eager to know more about things – be it my area of interest or not.
How did you realize that law is what you want to do? Who or What inspired you?
I did not always know that I wanted to study law. I only realized it towards the end of the first year of Junior College.
I went to St. Xavier’s college, which had both- Junior and Senior college courses. Because of the shared campus, I was friends with some students from the BMS Course, and they had this subject called Mercantile Law. At this point, it did not really know that law had such a strong, fast-growing commercial angle in India.
They told me that the lectures were quite challenging and suggested that I help them with the projects and sit the lectures. Full disclosure- I really wanted to sit the lectures because, ideally, I wasn’t allowed to since I was a junior college student- the thrill was my primary motivation. I ended up absolutely enjoying those lectures. The professor was amazing, and he encouraged my participation in class.
I read up on the prospects of pursuing the field in the future and realized that it would definitely be something that I could see myself enjoying as a profession. The same professor even helped me streamline my thoughts, suggested that I take the CLAT, and was elated (and I think a little surprised) that I made it to NALSAR.
You study at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. One of the best law schools in India. How is life at NALSAR? And your experience?
NALSAR has been a life-changing experience for me. There isn’t any one adjective that I can use to describe campus life, but if I had to, I’d say it’s all-encompassing. There are highs and lows, and both are enlightening.
I had never been away from home before, so the first year was challenging for me in all ways. It took a little time to adjust to the surroundings, but the numerous extracurricular, academics and a load of other activities made it very interesting.
The student and alumni networks at NALSAR are what make it one of the best law schools in the country. It was amazing to see how seniors helped us through every step of our initiation, and it is invigorating to be a part of this community.
Even though we lost two years of physical interactions and classes to Covid, the NALSAR community was always there for anyone who needed help or guidance.
When I got back to campus in February 2022, the realization that we had only one year left on campus was daunting. The University has played a very important role in helping me grow as an individual and professional.
Apart from the intellectual stimulation, I also got exposed to different cultures and had an opportunity to meet people from different walks of life, which was an educational experience in itself.
NALSAR has made me more self-aware, focused, tolerant, and empathetic. I am thankful for every experience, small and big, that I have had on campus.
If you look back, what were the things which have helped you become a better law student today?
Developing observation skills and having the patience to listen have been the two most important qualities I have made an effort to imbibe in myself. When I say ‘listening’, I mean active listening- this is another process of learning that has helped me become a better student. It is important to acknowledge that everyone has something to offer, even if it is vastly different from what you have to say.
Realizing that diversity in opinions, people and thoughts is an advantage is also very important. Different experiences contribute to creative and innovative solutions and are always helpful. Recognizing them and appreciating them, mostly learning from them, has made me a better student.
Apart from these, exploring all options and being diligent and curious about everything helps. From personal experience, I would also say that asking questions and trying to know more about things has also been helpful.
You have secured some good internships at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Chambers of Sr. Adv. Sharan Jagtiani and Finsec Law Advisors. Please share your experience of working with them.
I have tried to maintain a diverse range of internships over the course of law school in order to explore and try my hand at different sectors. I learned the most during my internships with Sr. Adv. Sharan Jagtiani and at the Vidhi Centre.
Very recently, I also had the opportunity to work at Finsec Law Advisors, and it turned out to be one of the most hands-on and enriching corporate internships I have had. These three internships were vastly different in the kind of work that they offered.
I primarily dealt with policy work at Vidhi; It was quite fruitful to understand what are the factors considered while formulating legislation, how is it then drafted, the considerations involved, and the process until the final stage of implementation.
During my time at Adv. Jagtiani’s chambers gave me a practical understanding of how the law is applied in case of a dispute. It was apprising to know that the theory that we study in law school, even though important, is very different from real-world practice, and it is important to build strong foundations in law school.
I thoroughly enjoyed my internship at Finsec, even though it was in an online mode. The best part about it was the constant feedback from associates and seniors. I was made aware of the mistakes I made and how to remedy them, and I was also given the opportunity of contributing to the final opinions that were sent out to clients.
What, according to you, helped you in getting those internships? What can law students do or must do to get internships at such organizations?
Having the will to keep applying even after receiving rejections is something that helped me a lot. Getting internships can be difficult in the first year because there is barely anything on your C.V., and it is important to know that everyone goes through this process. Almost every law student has struggled to get the internships that he/she wants.
I would like to mention here that cold emails have been my most successful shot. I do not have any major contacts in the legal industry. Sending emails to H.R.s and partners or even administrators and expressing interest has been my go-to method. I would also suggest following up on your application at regular intervals- firms, chambers, and policy centers receive hundreds of applications each day, and it may help to bring your application to their notice again.
Researching about the firm or the policy center online also helps. There is also no harm in calling up the firm’s front desk and inquiring about your application once the email has been sent and you have followed up on it.
You have an excellent mooting record. You performed phenomenally in the reputed moot court competitions you participated in. How was your experience, and how does it feel to represent NALSAR there?
Participating in the Vis East International Moot with my team has been the most informative, rewarding and enjoyable experience. We had to actually compete with another team internally (in NALSAR) to decide which team would represent the University on the international stage. Because of this, we had to deal with two Vis problems in toto. The Open Challenge and the actual Moot took one whole year of preparation, including the final rounds for us, and I can say without any hesitation that it was all worth it.
I learned and dived deep into a new area of law and dispute resolution in which I developed a great interest. The beauty of Vis, as a moot, is that it is designed in such a way that you don’t only learn the law but also engage in the commercial aspects of the transaction/deal as well.
The team worked together to make legally sound and commercially relevant arguments that would appeal both to the business and the legal minds. The whole period comprised of brainstorming, coordinating and trying to achieve the most practically reliable solutions, and it was great to see that all of us were bringing so many different perspectives to the table.
The collaborative teamwork, constant effort and diligent hard work of all the team members contributed to our success in the moot, and we finished 6th globally.
The results page and the scoreboard did not show our respective names. It instead said NALSAR University of Law, and all of us couldn’t be prouder of it. It was a thrill to represent our university, and it was our small way of giving back to a place that was offering us so much and helping us grow as people.
Considering your moot experience and achievements, what would be your advice to mooters and non-mooters?
I want to clarify that mooting is not a compulsory activity, nor is it a “must-have” on your C.V. It is important to have an interest in the activity or have a willingness to do it. Participating in moots can be a long-term commitment. Since you will be investing a lot of your time and energy in the moot, it is important that you like the subject area and that it is something that you are curious about and look forward to.
A moot is not something that should be done for the sake of it. A lot of research must be conducted to select the moot that you want to do. You must also spend quality time forming a team where everyone is comfortable working with each other and compliments each other’s style.
I would strongly suggest reaching out to seniors or other individuals who have previously participated in the moot to get a rough picture of what the competition is going to be like. Most people are kind and willing to help; connecting on LinkedIn is a reasonable option.
Once you decide to participate in the moot, it may become difficult to manage time and give equal attention to academics, extracurricular activities, etc. However, scheduling your month and aligning deadlines may help. I strongly advise people to not give up on academics simply because they are booting.
Apart from this, concentrate on the subject area, make an attempt to have a very strong foundation in the area of law, coordinate with your team at all points and ensure maximum participation; creating internal deadlines also helps.
All of this said students who are not interested in the activity must not force themselves to participate in moots. Exploring other things like ADR competitions, legal writing, attending conferences or courses, engaging in policy work, being a part of editorial boards, etc., is also equally rewarding. It all depends on your interests.
Suppose you were sent to your first year of Law school again. Then what would you do differently?
I would definitely try to blend in more with my peers and be more socially active. I would also engage with the debating and quizzing committees more and try my hand at these activities. I have also not been a part of organising committees for cultural fests or events on campus, and I feel like that’s something everyone should do at least once.
I haven’t been to any sporting events that NALSAR attends, but I definitely plan on doing that during my last year. All said and done; it’s important to understand that there’s only so much one can do at a time, so it would be best if we did things that we find interesting and engaging at a particular time and plan the rest on the way up.
This Interview is a part of our Star Student/Faculty interview series wherein our campus leaders interview the star student/faculty of their college. Stay tuned for more!