PANDEMIC AND STRUGGLES OF A FRESHER LITIGATING LAWYER
While the pandemic and the related issues started in the country almost nearly a month back, the government and the citizens were equally responsible in as much as both the aforementioned did not take the issue seriously during the inception. While some of us had started taking the issue seriously and had taken our steps back in order to restrain ourselves and to protect ourselves, a majority amongst us never appreciated the gravity of the situation and kept working/ continuing with the daily chores of life. Some thinkers (optimists) were
adamant to the effect that as soon as the work/ daily chores stop, the people of the country will start starving to death and hence work is a quintessential part of their life and hence shall continue, keeping aside the gravity of the situation and the call of the government. While all of us claim to be the smartest and the most intelligible amongst the lot, we always forget and surpass the thought that there exist a species of people called the “experts” and to put forth their work in lay man’s language, they study one single subject and try to master their skill at it. Those who are pseudo intellectuals live with the thought that they have somehow attained mastery over every subject on earth or that as soon as the subject sees the light of the day, we are ready with the conclusions and hence although the situation was actually not that bad in our country, it seems to be going from bad to worse in the present scenario with the country witnessing the highest number of reported cases in one day on the 1.4.2020. Let us pause for a minute and re-think as to who is to be blamed for the situation? Certainly majority of us would like to rub it in the face of the government and would not like to take one for the situation on our shoulders as being self-styled “responsible citizens”. To take out failures of the government and other agencies is absolutely right and as educated, knowledgeable people, we should participate in doing that but at the same time look for faults at our ends in order to strike out a balance in the faults of the government and that of the citizens for which all of us are the real sufferers, ultimately.
An eye-opener for Government and Bar Council of India
The above was merely to serve as an eye opener for the people who claim that it is ultimately the government which is at fault and all of us are pious souls who shall not be kept under the radar of the defaulters. As far as this write up is concerned, it aims at outlining the pains of a fresher litigating lawyer who when though that he has established, faces the crisis of lockdown, obviously creating havoc in his life in terms of stability which is always a question mark in the early days of the profession and is also faced with the question of being a responsible citizen and abiding by the instruction/advisory and directions of the Government. To bring more clarity in the minds of the readers, it is the author of the article who himself is in the struggling phase of the profession and is facing the tides in the form of a lockdown and other allied problems associated with the profession. To further clarify, the author of the article joined the profession in 2018 and as of now has been in the field for almost nearly two years and hence one may honestly say that the writer has not yet taken birth in the field, not literally though.
To those who are part of fancy corporates and high end firms, the article might seem farce and illogical and all those who are into the litigation exclusively and experience hardcore litigation and chamber practice, might as well be able to relate to the situation and hence might understand my pain and obviously the pain of innumerable other fellow lawyers. Trying to give my opinions a shape and some words, I will not shy away from admitting that the time is a tough and a rough for the struggling lawyers as salaries have stopped for the salary based strugglers, it is a rough tide for self-earning lawyers also, no disputes about that. Without emphasising on the amount of salaries that junior advocates (as they call it) /associate advocates (as I like to address my colleagues) get, it becomes tough to survive even when we keep working in a cycle. Further without commenting on the type of employment contracts that chamber litigating lawyers have, which they don’t have, it is always a question on their jobs and stability and with this
troublesome phase in the country I am forced to imagine the worse that there will be many who will unfortunately not be called to join again or who shall be shown the door in the name of financial crisis or even worse that they might be expected to work without any consideration, which is the general trend in the field.
Unfortunately we fail to appreciate that with Delhi being the capital and with there being 6 district courts, the High Court and Supreme Court besides other various forums and tribunals, the city attracts many young aspirants who take the chance and the step to look out for opportunities and hence start living in the city on their own all at their own luck. With the lockdown and the quarantine norm hitting the city, let us take a minute to think about those strugglers who are actually living alone with the kind of remuneration as mentioned above. To what extend do we expect them to stock up ration and other essential or non-essential commodities as categorised these days with the little or no income that they have? While it might be idealistic to say that to stock up our homes with the essentials is the prudent move for the time, have we even for a moment asked the question of the practicality of the so called idealistic approach, especially with reference to the strugglers of the field?
As derogatory as it might sound, it is a fact known to all that during the period of struggle, one does not only stick to the profession but finds sources of income other than the primary source for the sheer reason of survival, that being the ultimate motive of humans. Considering this situation also have we asked ourselves as to what is a struggling litigator supposed to do when the profession is a full show of class, richness and standards? To me, it is appreciable yet painful to note that the Bar Council of respective states have had to resort to the humble act of helping financially, lawyers who are not financially sound and are facing difficulties due to the pandemic and the lockdown. To my little understanding and policy decision making capabilities, it would have been better if the governing bodies had at the very inception made policies with the norms of setting basic pays to the struggling lawyers whatever be the age or experience or knowledge because had that been the situation, the situation would have been survival friendly as on date. All readers will admit to having seen articles which claim that the governing body has made norms to help the fresher lawyers, let alone interns in the field by paying them a basic amount but unfortunately in my association with the field, I have not been able to come across one such person who has availed the benefits of the scheme or whether this scheme has even as on date been implemented or not is one question that needs to be answered.
It does not surprise me or give me a shock when I say that the lawyers who are the ultimate custodians of the law are the ones who are the worst exploited. One might think as to what got me into concluding in such a unwarranted harsh manner? Well let us take an example of the capital city, Delhi. Stop for a moment and ask yourself that what is the basic minimum wage set by the government for Graduates in Delhi? Let me help you in concluding that as per the latest revised rates of the Delhi Government on 23.10.2019, the minimum wages for graduates is Rs 751/- per day totaling to Rs 19,522/- per day. Hope that must have come to you as a shocker and must have forced you to ask yourself certain questions, one amongst them obviously being that why am I not being paid even the basic wages? And the other being that am I being exploited by the non- payment of the minimum wages? Unfortunately the answer to both your questions is “YES” and is painful too.
The whole point of getting the readers into the basic wages and the non-payment thereof to the struggling lawyers is a way to highlight the pain of the struggling lawyers. As painful as it might sound, it is the true that is the ultimately the strugglers who surrender their guard and let themselves to be exploited in the name of teaching them the art of litigation which to my understanding comes either by talent or by time or both.
Keeping in line with the topic, it is the basic pain of the struggling lawyers to keep updated with basic necessities in the absence of financial aid, handling any unforeseen tragedy or for that matter handling any other trouble that requires immediate liquidity. As painful as it might sound, we have thus far not been able to keep up with the needs of the struggling lawyer, we have also not been able to provide them with a platform in the field and we have also not been able to assure them as to there being any safeguard for them in times of distress or crises. To have someone in the times of crises really helps and gives mental peace and power to keep fighting the odds to reach to an established stage, gradually.
With no income at their disposal, the young aspirants of the field of litigation, like me, might feel disheartened and distressed but after all sometimes one has to fight the storm to be able to reach the heights. Keeping the view of fighting the storms to reach unimaginable heights, keep the hopes high and keep investing in the field and it shall pay back to you in the most unexpected way. As a disclaimer it needs to be mentioned that the motive of this article is not to dishearten my confederates but to tell them that there is someone out there who unconditionally understands your pain in these tough times and also to state that you are not the only one sailing in the storms to reach the heights, you have several others who are sailing the storms in the tough situation to be able to reach heights. In these tough times, it is warranted that if need be, one must not shy away from looking for alternate sources of income to support oneself as the writer understands that desperate times require desperate measures and it is no wrong to help oneself by taking measures smarter than what the others are taking. Let us also hope that the tough times end as soon as possible and we are able to be a part of the hustle and the bustle that we are used to as a daily routine.
The article might seem like a poor attempt of expressing opinions and for that suggestions, if any are most welcomed. The writer isn’t a regular writer but a seasoned writer who seemed to have stopped at the thought of the struggles of confederates and expressed opinions and solutions to the best of his abilities.
About Parth Chaturvedi:
Parth charturvedi is young and a hardworking lawyer. He persued his education completely in Delhi and his BA LLB(H) from GGSIPU, DELHI with first division. Practicising in courts, all over India, he is eyeing establishment in the capital city with major eye on the criminal side. Enrolled in the year 2018, has an experience of roughly 2 years to his credit in the field.
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