November 27, 2020

Interview: Siddharth Chapalgaonkar (Advocate at Bombay High Court; LLM, Mumbai University)

Mr. Siddharth Chapalgaonkar is an Advocate at Bombay High Court. He has done Masters in Law from Mumbai University and Bachelors from ILS Pune. We managed to ask him out folloeing questions.

Tell our readers about yourself?

I am a civil engineer turned lawyer currently practicing as a junior advocate primarily in Bombay High Court and other courts in Mumbai. After my engineering education I briefly pursued Civil Services Examination and while preparing for the same, I developed an interest in law and started my law education at ILS Law College Pune.

How was your experience at ILS Pune?

My three years at ILS were excellent. We had a resourceful faculty who taught us basics of law which definitely strengthened our base. I got equally wonderful friends, juniors and colleagues in a lush green campus with a hill in the background. ILS is known for its legacy of almost 100 years and has an enriched law library. I tried to spend most of the time in library reading legal as well as non-legal resources.

You have done Masters in Law from Mumbai University. Please share your experience

I am pursuing a Masters in Law in Human Rights Specialisation. It is a 2 years course and I am able to pursue it because the lectures take place in the evening and students can attend the same after Court hours.

Tell us about your experiences after law school as a professional.

One year of my experience as a professional has been a great learning experience. I have got an opportunity to be a junior of a very upright, strict and cordial senior Adv. Nitin Deshpande, who tries to ensure that his juniors are learning. He even entrusted me a very important criminal appeal to argue where I argued for 7 appellants who were convicted for a murder of a man. The High Court overturned the conviction and set aside the conviction of the appellants. The Judgment also got reported in SCCOnline as well as AIROnline. Apart from it I realised that we get to learn more from our mistakes than where we do the things correctly. More than a professional, I tried to observe the happenings of Court from a human perspective. Be it Bar room, library, canteen, clerks, other court officials and most importantly parties(clients). I realised that being part of administration of justice is truly worthy experience and all this is setup for welfare of parties. These are the experiences which won’t be written in any book but will have to be taken on own.

What are your views on career choices after law?

In 21st century with a technology driven and globalized world there are many career choices that a law graduate can have. Here are few of them apart from litigation.

Working as a consultant: A lawyer can work as an independent consultant and advice clients on various areas of law.

Alternate Dispute Resolution: With increasing burden of cases on Courts, the reliance on ADR mechanisms like Arbitration, mediation etc. has definitely increased and a law graduate seek opportunities in the same.

Civil Services and Public Policy: A lawyer can contribute immensely if he is interested to work in field of public policy. This can be done by writing civil services exam and clearing it or lawyer can work in public policy domain independently or with an organization.

Legal Tech: This is very new and fast developing area of law where a lawyer can chart a very different career path. Interface of technology and law is being explored to solve the various problems in legal sector.

You are an advocate at Bombay High Court. How would you explain Litigation as a career to law students. What are the hardships one has to face?

Litigation is a tough choice indeed and it demands consistent efforts for improving ourselves. Once the gestation period ends and your start showing some fruits there is no other career like litigation. As senior counsel Arvind Datar mentions it took eleven years for him to purchase a new car, that too a second hand one. From his example we can understand how challenging is the profession.

About hardships it depends upon how an advocate takes those. The hardships can be in any form, from understanding perspective, drafting perspective, arguing or getting briefs. Hence one needs to be patient and enjoy the learning process. That is why it is called practice!

Any parting advice for the law aspirants?

The most important advice from my side would be that increase your learnability. As a lawyer we need to be inquisitive about every possible thing around us. It helps us in all foundation development which is useful for our law career.

The interview was conducted by Shrirang Ashtaputre.

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