Aditya Singh, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), NALSAR (National Academy of Legal Studies and Research University) Class of 2011, has gained entry into the hallowed portals of Yale Law School, in its LLM class. Awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship for Law, 2011 which also opens the doors of Cambridge University for him, we shall find out why he chose Yale over Cambridge and a host of other things.
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1. Tell us about your schooling and background. What inspired you to end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
I grew up in Meerut and did my schooling at St. Mary’s Academy, Meerut Cantt. I decided to join law school because it was clear to me that it would allow me to work with varied career choices. I read about how top politicians, journalists and management professionals had studied law and this freedom and mobility attracted me. So it was not so much a decision to become a lawyer but more about studying law and developing skills that would help me in thinking through difficult situations and taking the right decisions irrespective of what I eventually do.
2. Editorial board position. What work does it entail and how has that contributed towards you growth?
I have edited the Indian Journal of Law & Economics at NALSAR. It was a great experience. I had the chance to interact with some accomplished scholars as I edited their papers. I also had the opportunity to engage with a range of practitioners and academics who work on law and policy issues during the creation of a board of advisory and consulting editors.
3. Mooting. Unnecessarily glorified or a stepping stone?
Mooting is a great academic exercise and deserves all the attention it gets. I have represented NALSAR in both international and domestic moots and strongly believe that it is one the most academically rigorous activities available to Indian law students. All the moots I have done have exposed me to a new area of law that I would not have studied otherwise. It requires exhaustive research on a specific area of law and it is difficult to get such a deep understanding of complex issues in usual classroom learning. And additionally, it’s a great way to meet and exchange ideas with students from other law schools and also visit exotic places!
4. What according to you was the clinching factor for admission to the Yale Law School and the Commonwealth scholarship and in your opinion what exactly do they look for?
There is no clinching factor in any of this. I don’t think one can plan for this and there is certainly no formula. For both Yale Law School and the Commonwealth Scholarship, I was clear in my application about why I wanted to study further and what my expectations were from the programs. Results are really secondary because there is a huge element of luck involved. But what is wonderful about writing applications and preparing for interviews is that it is a deeply reflective exercise. I have greatly benefited from the application process as I had an opportunity to think about my past, the mistakes I have made and what I have learned from them and more importantly, what I want to do in the coming years.
5. Yale Law School or University of Cambridge. Which one and why?
I will be joining the Yale Law School and will forego the Commonwealth Scholarship. Yale’s masters program, unlike other Universities, has a very small class size (around 25 students) which allows for greater interaction with faculty. Also, compared to law schools in the UK, Yale offers a broad array of courses and this works best for me because I am not going in with a specific area in mind but looking to explore a variety of interesting courses. A very generous scholarship and financial aid package from the Yale Law School made it easy for me to not accept the Commonwealth Scholarship.
6. The entire NALSAR experience. The journey that is over and how it helped mould you. Any person(s) you would like to mention.
Joining NALSAR was the best decision I have ever made. It is a remarkable place which has given me opportunities I could not have even thought of. Many individuals, both within and outside law school have contributed to making this such a wonderful experience. A bunch of great friends and classmates made the NALSAR experience completely worthwhile. In terms of faculty, Prof. Amita Dhanda’s courses were fantastic. Also, the fact that Prasad Krishnamurthy and Swethaa Ballakrishnen were at NALSAR for a year each made a huge difference and added greatly to the experience. During this time, I have had the chance to work with the most inspiring individuals, particularly Vikramaditya Khanna and Menaka Guruswamy, who have always been willing to guide and mentor me.
But most importantly, I am lucky to have an extremely supportive family that always respects my decisions and never doubts my convictions.
7. The world beyond the race for “who-wants-to-be-the-next-amarchand-partner”. Your take. In other words, please elaborate on the alternative career choices that a person graduating from a Law School today would have, other than “placements”.
I believe it is important to not view anything as alternative, conventional or usual as you start law school. Law students today have a range of wonderful opportunities. Surely the world of a law firm partner is as exciting as a law professor or a World Bank lawyer or a practicing counsel but the key lies in discovering what is best for you and what interests you. Law school offers opportunities to get a sense of the many things you could do after graduation and one should use this time with no preconceived notions. Personally, I am still discovering different options and have not zeroed in on a specific career.
8. Your interests in the world beyond law.
I am extremely interested in Indian politics and like to read about political figures. I would love to be a Psephologist but seems unlikely at the moment! And I’m addicted to news channels and a worrying number of TV shows!
9. Your word for CLAT aspirants in general and those who shall be joining NALSAR this year, in particular.
The usual (but important) stuff. Keep believing that you can crack the law entrance exams and never let a failure deter you. To those who are joining NALSAR – make the most of it. You’ll have a world of opportunities and don’t hesitate to try anything that looks interesting. Go in with a completely open mind and be willing to experiment with courses, activities and everything else that comes your way.