ICYMI: GLC actually stands for Give, Love and Cherish.[1]

In the preceding posts, we have gone through some practical aspects of law school – academics, exams, co and extra-curriculars. In this final post, I want to focus on the bigger picture, the “real” purpose of education – becoming a better human being.

You must ensure that law school takes you closer to what Bertrand Russell termed as the “good life” – “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life.” How do you know you’re on the right path? Here are four pointers –

 

I. Don’t fall in the trap of one-dimensional learning.

Being able to rattle off sections and cite precedents on demand is impressive but the law is much more than that. It involves (inter alia) identifying historical tipping points, juxtaposing the past and the present, assessing legacies of ideologies, events, polarising figures and landmark decisions (policy and judicial), and of course, understanding human psychology. So read widely and compulsively. Actively seek out diverging views. Think critically; question and challenge status quo. Be curious and be confused.

 

II. Don’t fall into the trap of herd-mentality.

Law school is a complex environment – even as you brave the steady stream of you’ll-fight-my-case-for-free-na and chalo-now-you-can-draft-my-will comments, (hopefully) have the time of your life and find friends for a lifetime (God, egos and stress-levels willing), you will have to grapple with insecurities and try to maintain your sanity and sense of self in the face of abundant competition[2]. The most common side effects of this are a drastic rise in cynicism and a drastic fall in originality. Somewhere down the 5 years, the focus shifts from becoming social justice crusaders, entrepreneurs, bakers and graphic designers to bagging associate-ship at the crème de la crème of law firms. Not that this is problematic or wrong[3]; but is it (as Warren Buffet so sagely said) what you would have done had you been independently wealthy?

Don’t let your inner cynic prevail over your enthusiasm and idealism. Don’t let peer-pressure make your choices for you. Take your time; let your beliefs craft your path.

 

III. Become more environmentally conscious and considerate.

In this age of obscene consumerism and climate change denial, let your study of environmental laws and regulations, landmark judgments and people’s excruciating struggles to win back their right to a healthy environment make you more aware of and worried about how, in hubris, the human species has undertaken behaviour that can only be described as self-destructive. The problems of CO2 emissions, extinction of species, over-population, deforestation, noise pollution, environmental degradation as well as solutions like carbon credits, clean energy, recycling and sustainable lifestyles should take up more of your time and energies – because unless we course correct, today’s fictional dystopia will be tomorrow’s reality.

 

IV.  And lastly (but most importantly), let law school make you aware of your privileges, dismantle your prejudices and spur you towards gainful employment of your energies.

The fact that I have written this post in a language not native to India and that you are reading the same, on an online forum affiliated to one of India’s premier institutions of legal education means we are already better off than the vast majority of our country-(wo)men. The reason we are better off is because we have constantly received better opportunities and more chances. And this has (largely) been because we won the lottery of birth. Recognising the nature of these benefits then, is imperative not only because such realisation will enable one to appreciate them better but also because it will make one more inclined to sharing them with/procuring them for those not as fortunate. And that is the only way we can progress – as a society and as a country.

Since birth, we are conditioned into believing that certain notions are ultimate, unchallengeable truths. Not only do they colour our interactions and prevail over our better judgments, but slowly become points of refuge – into whose comforting embrace we return in times of distress and which we use as crutches in moments of weakness. Given the intense familiarity of these blinkers (racism, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, xenophobia (and many more)) we all have been, are and will be guilty of relying on them. The goal then, should be to identify and accept problematic behaviour, avoid repetition and dissuade others as well.

So make a conscious decision to practice empathy, embrace inclusivity and eschew hate. The world needs it, now more than ever.

Let me end with these gloriously stirring words of Albert Camus[4], which I hope always serve as a guide to you – “We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more.

 

Preeti Sahai, V-V

 

END NOTES

[1] All credit to Mr. Derek O’Brien for this one.

[2] In law school and beyond.

[3] It is unpreventable, really. Especially when one has to continuously reconcile the study of preambular ideals and constitutional guarantees with the pervasive and crippling nature of injustice and failures of creaky institutions. And because not everyone has assured funding for further studies. And because social work and Masala Kraft aren’t exactly…compatible.

[4] Read Camus. He may change your life.

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