Nepotism in the legal field: A tale of two young advocates
If you are a first-generation Advocate which means your father, mother, brother, sister, and ‘uncle’ are not Advocates/Senior Advocates/Judges then litigation might prove a quest for a holy grail for you. I am a first-generation Advocate and have been practicing for the last three years. I would be describing my experiences in the following part of this piece. I will try to articulate my feelings and experiences. I do not have any empirical data or ‘precedence’ to support what I am going to say but I believe there is always a space for human emotions in any discourse and this piece relies on that.
Beginning of the race:
Struggle begins from Law School. You, hereinafter used for first-generation Advocates, would spend days on your Curriculum Vitae and Statement of Purpose, would shortlist your prospective mentors, and would send applications to them to join their offices/chambers. Probably, you would not hear back from them ever. But, Rohan, hereinafter used for second/third/… generation Advocates, from your college would get that internship as his uncle would make a call. Anyhow you would do some internships and if you are lucky, you might even get an offer for the junior ship after your college. If things work out well, you might even get paid in five digits. You would work round the clock to prove your worth in the new workplace. But Rohan, uncle’s nephew, would not only get the best junior ship but also a fat stipend. Not that he needs it but that he would not mind receiving one, regularly. Again, just because uncle made the call.
From day one, Rohan would be doing matters having high stakes and significance. You might be handling a panel in your chamber and would be preparing NI Act complaints like a bot. You would not have much time to do research and you would not get enough exposure. Rohan would sit in the esteemed company of jurists, regularly. In those gatherings, he would get the impetus to go abroad and get his LLM degree. He would have esteemed people at his disposal to write rosy recommendations for him. You would struggle to pay your bills and would feel emotionally exhausted as you would not be able to support your family financially despite working extremely hard.
Prospects and growth:
In two years or so, your situation would not change much. You would still apply at the best places, but you would not hear back, often. However, at the same time, Rohan would be back home armed with an LLM degree, probably signed by a white man. ‘Best people’ in town would readily offer him work and he would be counted among the best. Soon, Rohan would take command of his family chamber in his able hands and would carry forward the legacy. You would struggle to rent a chamber/one-room office in partnership with three colleagues. Rohan would even like to write articles and esteemed newspapers and magazines would publish his work considering his ‘distinguished achievements’. Your submissions, for publication, would not be considered seriously even once. In the long run, you neither have a name nor do you have a financially stable concern or office. Six months of restrictions due to some calamity will put you on your knees. You would still try.
In the end:
Rohan would be a bright name in the Bar, judges would know his name and would be more inclined to listen to his arguments resulting in his good success rate with cases. ‘They might even call him to the bench, someday. You would still work hard on your cases. Sometimes, you might even get lucky but that would be an exception and not the norm for you. It begins with internships, continues in the Bar, higher education, and elevations. It never ends. Your pedigree chases you.
After having given three years of my life to the Bar, I ask myself ‘was it worth’? I am still looking for answers. Probably this article would be turned down by all editors. But it would not be the first time for me or you.
Amit Dwivedi is an advocate practicing in the courts of Delhi and the Supreme court of India.
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