Veena Kamath on graduating from RMLNLU, Mooting and getting a place at Oxford and McGill

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Veena Kamath

Veena Kamath recently graduated from RMLNLU. 

  • Why did you decide to study law? What inspired you to do so?

My desire to study law and become a lawyer has been its dynamic nature and its ability to make a difference to the society. My inspiration to study law has been my father who is a lawyer. Since my childhood I wanted to be a lawyer. During the summer vacation of my school, I used to go to Courts with my grandfather to watch my father argue. As I grew up I learnt more about the profession from my father and two of my uncles who are also lawyers and understood how by being a lawyer, one could actually make a difference to the society. So, I gave the CLAT exam and got enrolled in RMLNLU to study law.

  • Are you a first generation lawyer? Do you believe that people coming from the families having legal background is having a better exposure or entire thing is subject to merit?

Like I already mentioned, my father and two of my uncles are lawyers. I am the second generation lawyer in my family. Although I agree that coming from a legal background is definitely helpful because you will have someone in your family who can tell you his or her experiences and guide you to be a successful lawyer, I completely disagree that a person who is not from a family of lawyers will be at a disadvantage. This is because all the guidance and help that one gets from the lawyers in the family, can also be obtained from other sources such as seniors/alumni of a law school, from teachers and others through networking. Moreover, with increased competition in everything from participating in a moot competition to getting a job to getting seat in a University for higher studies, it is only hard work and merit that matters and the fact that one comes from a legal background does not matter.

  • What is your philosophy towards work?

Work hard with honesty and most importantly enjoy your work.

  • You have taken part in lot of Moot Court Competition in college. Can you share a few mooting experiences?

In my first and second year of law school, I took part in Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot and Stetson International Environmental Law Moot, respectively. In both these moots by being a researcher, I learnt how to segregate the issues involved in the moot competition and how to draft a memorial. In my 3rd and 4th year of law school I took part in Leiden Sarin International Air law moot and Manfred Lachs Space Law moot as a speaker. Being a speaker was much more challenging than being a researcher, because I could be asked ‘anything under the sun’ from the judges and I had to be clear on what I spoke and could not beat around the bush when I was asked questions. My mooting skills were thoroughly tested when I made it to the world rounds of Leiden Sarin Air law moot at Istanbul. I was judged by a total of 12 judges before I made it to the finals of the Competition against Leiden University. In the finals it was a great experience arguing and winning against the Leiden University and to be judged by three eminent judges one of whom was the former President of the International Court of Justice. I got a similar opportunity of arguing before international law experts, once again, when I made it to the Asia-Pacific rounds of Manfred Lachs Space law moot in Tokyo. My seniors at RMLNLU have played an important role in my mooting achievements from taking my mocks to encouraging me through their pep talks. They always helped me till the last possible minute.

  • In your opinion, can ‘Mooting’ benefit in eventual legal practice? Record reasons for the same.

Yes definitely. Through moots we develop the habit of intensive reading and the ability to indentify ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments. Making a memorial sharpens your writing skills and teaches you to be brief, mainly because of the word limit within which a memorial should be drafted. Being a speaker helps you hone good oratory skills and teaches you time management and to be spontaneous, because in all the moot competitions there is a time limit within which the speaker should make all the arguments and also answer to the judges’ questions. These skills developed through moots, definitely helps in eventual legal practice.

  • What are the places and law firms where you interned? How one should go about choosing a firm for an internship. Now that you look back, how do you think these internships influenced your career?

 I always wanted to be a litigation lawyer and at the same time contribute to my society. So, I did a few internships in law firms and a few internships as a social worker. Interning in law firms such as LKS, Dua Associates and Trilegal helped me affirm that litigation was my true niche. As a social worker, I interned at SICHREM, an NGO and Lijjat Papad, a women’s cooperative. I also had the opportunity to work with Ms. Mia Wouters, who is an attorney in Brussels and who had judged me in Leiden Sarin Air law moot in Istanbul. All these internships has helped me indentify the kind of work I enjoy and more importantly made me realize the difference one can make to the society by being a lawyer.

About how one should choose an internship, in my opinion during the first few internships of a law student, one should try and work in as many different fields of law as possible and indentify one’s niche. Once this is done, the student should concentrate and intern in only that area of law that one enjoys. Interning in a place where one enjoys the work definitely yields great results.

  • How did you apply for Oxford and McGill? How one should go about for securing a place at these universities?

I got a scholarship to study at both Oxford University and McGill University. I had to write two statements of purpose – one for my scholarship and one for my admission in the University at both Oxford and McGill. At Oxford, I also had to submit a legal essay. In order to get a place at any reputed University one has to be an all-rounder and should have a genuine passion to pursue higher studies.

  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction

Taking part in Moot Court Competitions has given me the most satisfaction because through moots I was able to make a name for my University at the international level – something to give back to my University for giving me all the opportunities to realize my goals. Apart from moots, taking part in music competitions as a flutist and forming a small music band with my juniors and seniors in College has also given me a lot of satisfaction, because I learnt more of different genres of music and fine tuned the songs I could play on my flute.

  • What three things are most important to you in a law school that every law student must go for?

(1)Holding responsible posts and organizing different events of law schools.

(2) Taking part in Moots, Debates and writing articles, research papers, etc.

(3) Traveling and taking part in creative and stress buster activities such as theatre and music.

  • How has law school experience prepared you to overcome the different challenges of life?

Staying on campus, my five years of law school has made me more responsible and taught me how to adjust and live outside my comfort zone i.e. home. RMLNLU has given me a few friends and teachers, who have always encouraged me and have been responsible for my achievements and whom I can always look up to whenever I need any guidance.

  • Do you have current job offers? If so, where?

I did not apply for any job because I wanted to study further.

  • What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives? When and why did you establish these goals and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them?

My only goal, short- term and long-term is to work as a litigation lawyer. I will come back to India after I finish my studies at Oxford and work as a litigation lawyer. As already mentioned, I want to be a litigation lawyer, because of the power and responsibility that the job entails to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

  • Where do you see yourself in the upcoming years?

Working as a successful litigation lawyer and visibly contributing to the society.

  • Any suggestions to young law students who wish to abroad?

In my opinion a student should go abroad for an internship, only after having sufficient knowledge about Indian laws and Indian legal system, because then there will be better chances of understanding and appreciating the laws of foreign countries. If a student wants to go abroad for higher studies, then one should start planning at least 1.5 -2 years in advance so that internships and other law school activities can be planned accordingly.