August 4, 2021

Interview: Founding Team Memo Pundits (Anant Gupta And Rachnendra Tripathi)

Memo Pundits

Anant Gupta and Rachnendra Tripathi are alumni of from National Law University Odisha (2016). They founded India’s first Mooting School for law students, Memo Pundits in 2014. 

We managed to ask them following questions.

How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

We are the founders of Memo Pundits, India’s first mooting school for law students. The startup is focused on providing holistic education related to moot court competitions. 

We graduated together from National Law University Odisha in 2016. Both of us remained active in mooting throughout our law school life, having grown passionate for it from the early days of our journey as a law student.

Anant’s team was adjudged Runner-Up at the WBNUJS Herbert Smith Corporate Law Moot Court Competition in 2016, whereas Rachnendra won the Best Memorial and the Runner-Up citation at G.H. Raisoni Moot Court Competition, which was his very first moot.

Over the course of our time at law school we helped impart tricks and tips to others and helped them win the ‘Best Memorial’ citation in various moots, at both a national and international level.

You can find out more about us from here.

How important a role do you think law school plays in shaping one’s career?

It’s almost everything. Your school’s faculty, culture, location, alumni etc will be a strong determinant of how you fair out once you graduate from the school. This is exactly the reason why some law schools are considered better than others. While this is true, what also cannot be ignored are your own intelligence, willingness to work hard and important life skills. There is a famous saying “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”. This simply means that even if you’re in a top law school, you may choose to not work hard and not utilise the benefits of your school, which will ultimately lead your career to a dead end. The other side of this is – even if you’re from a not-so-renowned or very new college, with no alumni, no culture, location disadvantage, you CAN do well, career-wise. We have seen and worked with people like these, and they are the best because they have an attitude of never giving up.

Anant,You have worked for with the Banking Law team of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. Please tell the readers about the work environment.

In my opinion, work environment at any Tier 1 law firm revolves around high work pressure, short deadlines and high reward ($$$). You may not be able to differentiate between weekdays and weekends. Sometimes, the approaching deadlines may seem unreasonable to you. From time to time, you may also feel like you do not have any time left for personal things.

This is the reality that 99% are aware about and it’s the truth. It’s just like a Wall Street job where there is a lot of work pressure but at the end of the day, you do it for the love of the work and for the need of the money.

Anant, You have business certifications. Please tell the readers the importance of online certification courses. How one should select such courses.

The global pandemic has exposed the fallacies of the offline education infrastructure to a great extent. There are 2,500 law schools in India and during the COVID-19 lockdown not even 10% have been able to offer continued education on an online platform.

While the rest of the world is less affected in terms of continuation of education because of lower population and higher quality of online education, it is time of Indian law students to spring back so that we don’t fall behind.

The current year is, according to us, the most apt year to take as many online courses as you can.

While selecting a course, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who created the course?

The course creators may be different than the organisation selling the course. Make sure you ask the organisation enough about who actually created the course.

2. How is going to help me in the next 5 years?

Look at the benefits the course is offering you and if you feel that it may add a useful skill or subject expertise, which you are likely to use in the coming 5 years, go for it.

3. Is it priced fairly?

We see multiple Indian online education startups charging hefty fee to law students for online course which have been created by their interns. Please do not fall prey into this – make sure you ask around and are satisfied with the amount. As a rule of thumb, any course charged above 3-4 thousand MUST be chosen carefully – It’s your parents’ hard earned money!

4. Is the course self-paced or has a rigid schedule?

Traditional Indian online education startups follow the orthodox lecture method, which according to us, is at a high risk of losing the students’ attention. The average attention span of any student is 15-20 mins. Therefore, choose a course which is SELF-PACED, which has no fixed schedule – you should be able to access the course at your own convenience, at night or at day.)

5. What is the method of instruction?

The course content must be a fun mix of videos, readings, quizzes etc. Lack of diversity shows that the course creator has not put much thought into creating the course. So make sure that the course is diverse enough.

Rachendra, How important a role do you think mooting plays in once law school life?

I believe mooting imparts towards nurturing your law school life in a very holistic manner. Mooting delivers immense benefits towards a student’s life in law school. On the outset, mooting equips you with essential lawyering skills like researching on an issue, drafting your arguments and finally arguing your case infront of a judge. That’s how mooting prepares a solid ground for any budding lawyer right in the law school.

Participating in moot courts also helps one to get over one’s fear of public speaking, which is mostly prevalent amongst earlier years of law schools. Mooting also helps a law student to develop the necessary analytical and reasoning skills through continuous brainstorming during moot preparations.

Lastly, Moot court competitions also reflect good on your CVs and help you bag internships under prestigious lawyers or top-tier law firms. This eventually adds to your future prospects as budding lawyer.

What prompted you to start Memo Pundits as a mooting School?

The mooting culture in our college, National Law University, Odisha, was at an all-time high when we were pursuing our law degree. From the time we tried our hand at moot courts given our passion for them, we knew that by following the right path we will be able to ace it.

After a series of trial and errors we noticed that wining a citation at a moot court comes not only at the expense of working hard on your content, it also involves deploying a couple of practical techniques. Mastering these techniques was made possible by the friends who asked us for help in drafting and formatting their moot court memorials. One by one, these memorials went on to become the “Best Memorials” at their respective moots.

In our 3rd year of law school we decided to run our first pilot project by inviting students of our college to attend a 4-day workshop on Drafting, Editing and Formatting of Moot Court Memorials. We had underestimated the potential of our idea, expecting only 40-50 registrations at best, but we received 150 registrations within 48 hours which made us realize that our product is creating value to law students- this has been our guiding light even today.

There it was, loud and clear- an underlying demand for a potential business. They say necessity is the mother of invention and we were there to test it.

How did you guys start Memo Pundits? Considering its something different, what challenges do you faced?

We were lucky to have had the same passion – mooting, while being at the same place – NLUO at the same time! Unless all those factors did not work together, we would not have thought of starting Memo Pundits in our third year.  

Each business has its own set of challenges, what becomes important is how these are tackled. For us the biggest challenge has been to reach out to current law students. This is because it’s been 4 years since we graduated from law school and all our contacts are now either working at firms, at the judiciary or practicing litigation. To overcome this challenge, we constantly try to engage with current law students via word of mouth, social media and targeted promotions. Our Campus Ambassador Program helps us find and get connected with a giant pool of current law students. We have recently conducted some free webinars on the art and hacks of mooting which has helped increase our outreach to law students pan-India.

Please introduce our young readers on moots and mooting skills?

If you’re absolutely new to the concept of mooting, all you need to know is that this activity is going to help you build your confidence, improve your spoken and verbal language and give you a competitive edge against your peers.

Moot court competitions were developed as a way of giving the students a simulation of actual court proceedings. If you participate in a moot court, you have to do legal research on set facts and legal issues, prepare documents with your arguments (memorials) and argue your case in front of judges of the competition.

Excelling at moot courts require 3 skills: researching, drafting and argumentation. Interestingly, these exact same skills are what you would need to excel as a lawyer. So the sooner you have it, the better.

Please give our readers few tips on improving mooting skills.

Before 2014, a severe dearth of systematic knowledge about moot court training existed in India. Fortunately, with the help of Memo Pundits, more than 3,500 law students have received basic and advanced level training, which has helped more than 300 of them to win awards at national and international moot courts (even at the world cup of mooting – Jessup!)

If you want to improve your mooting skills, first identify your weak areas among these 3: legal research, drafting and oral argumentation. Depending of your answer, you must take up the relevant online course at our portal.

If you feel you have enough knowledge about the 3 and that all you need is expert guidance, you must go for our Moot Mentorship Program, which you can avail at affordable prices. Mentors from Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford etc are waiting to mentor you for your next moot court competition.

How should one select which moot court competitions to opt for?

If the readers are fairly new to mooting, we suggest them to do two things in this regard – choose moots from different subject areas and choose moots which may be winnable. Your first two years are excellent to explore your real interest areas, therefore, you must never settle after doing a moot of just 1 subject area. Keep exploring! Also, choosing a moot, in which you have high chances of winning may boost your morale and build enough confidence to pick up more challenging moots in your remaining years at law school.

If the readers have considerable experience in mooting, we suggest them to finalise your subject area of expertise – it may be international law, constitutional law, corporate law, depending on you and your team’s capabilities. Then we suggest them to choose the best moot of that subject area. This is the time to go international, because that is the real challenge waiting for you to be finished.

What is the basic strategy to prepare for competition and grab prizes?

Any moot court competition is not a one man show. It is teamwork, inter alia, which makes your preparation better than the rest. Working as a team leads to better productivity. It also helps in constructing better arguments because of constant monitoring of the teammates on each other.

We remember that the best part of the entire mooting process was the evening brainstorming sessions, in which we used to put forth our line of arguments approaching a particular issue and reach towards a conclusion.

What advise you will give to youngsters who just entered law school?

Students who are new to law school – please do not freak out because of the sheer amount of expectations which you may have built up in your mind for yourself. Pay attention to the saying “Don’t focus on going 0 to 100. Focus on going 0 to 10. Then 10 to 20. Then 20 to 30. And so on and so on until you get to 100. Build sustainable habits.”

Therefore, we suggest you to identify a few areas of law which you might to work on – it may be mooting, debating, writing research papers etc, and then slowly ease yourself into it. In any case, if you have any questions about how to proceed, we are there to help you through email – [email protected]

What would be your parting message to our readers?

The fact that the readers have reached this question means that they already have a competitive edge! By now you know about things, which your peers may be absolutely clueless about.

But the key is to never stop – always keep progressing. Learn new things every day and always try to become the best version of yourself. Best of luck!

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