Interview with Ms. Debosmita

Debosmita Nandy manages a practical legal blog called “The Five Things Checklist” where she writes on various practical aspects of law and being a lawyer. She has also published short fiction as part of anthologies and is currently working on her debut novel manuscript.

Q. Would you like to share with us a little bit about your experiences before joining law school?

Hello everybody. Thanks for having me. 

I was, what you would call, a straight A student throughout my school life. Everyone around me thought I was made for a career in Engineering or Medicine. Remember, this was 2002-2004 when these two were the most obvious career choices, especially for the Bengali middle class. 

I have had this secret desire to be a lawyer ever since I read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in standard IX. It was tough convincing my parents. It was even tougher explaining to my teachers as to why I wasn’t sitting for JEE as planned. I particularly remember the day when our standard XII class teacher gave the period off for filling up JEE forms and I was the only one sitting idle. To be honest, it felt thrilling to be treading the path less taken. 

What felt like a bold move and a gamble then, turned out to be a life-changing decision for me. 

Q.    How would you describe your time at NUJS? 

Just one word – transformative.

I was part of the 5th batch of NUJS – the 2004-2009 batch. I had brilliant classmates from all over the country, legendary seniors who had set the trail blazing already and a fantastic set of teachers. I remember feeling overwhelmed in the first semester of law school. Everything was all very new for me. Of course, it all dissipated soon and I was in the thick of everything that comprises of being a law student. 

NUJS taught me to think critically, analytically and logically. 

NUJS taught me to look beyond the obvious. 

NUJS taught me teamwork, collaboration and the virtue of supporting others. 

NUJS showed me to look for opportunities where there seem none. 

NUJS armed me a positive outlook. 

For all of that and much more, I will always be grateful that I got the opportunity to spend 5 years there. 

Q.  As an undergraduate, did it appear to you at any point that you would have your own website through which you would be able to mentor young students and lawyers on varied insightful issues?

I always loved to write. Since my childhood I have been writing fiction in various forms and publishing them in magazines and newspapers. I discovered blogging when I was in law school, in 2006. I would post only short fiction and non-fiction pieces on my blog. 

Then I restarted blogging in 2009. It was again primarily a fiction blog and quite popular. I won contests and was part of a huge community of bloggers. 

This time, I combined my love for writing with my desire to use my professional knowledge to help others. I think this was pre-destined. 

Q.  What made you gravitate towards starting the “Five things checklist”? Were there any sectional reasons for diversifying and pursuing writing?

There were mainly five reasons for starting “The Five Things Checklist” – 

a) The pandemic forced me to acknowledge that I need to prioritize myself. That meant doing things which I personally love doing viz. writing.  

b) I have always enjoyed mentoring young lawyers. I encourage my junior colleagues to knock on my door for anything they needed – be it on law or be it on how to navigate the workplace. I have activated the “Open to Mentor” tab on my Linkedin profile and have interacted with many students. So I knew a website would provide me with a wider reach.

c) I wanted to debunk the myth that law and lawyers are both complex. 

d) I wanted to talk about practical aspects of being a lawyer, or for that matter, any working professional. We have many websites offering insightful articles on various law topics but none offering tips, tricks and hacks of being a lawyer.

e) Most importantly, I wanted to help law students easily transition into being working professionals by bridging the gap between the academic study and practical application of law.   

Q.  Your blog, “five things checklist” is unique in its own way and follows a very distinctive pattern of limiting every topic to five elements. Any tips for law students who wish to pursue writing and have ideas that are idiosyncratic and unconventional in nature?

In the sea of the usual, one has to be quirky to stand out. 

Bring your idiosyncratic and unconventional ideas to life. 

Develop your own distinct style of expressing. 

Have a unique way to say what is usually said by many people. 

It will always be advantageous to be the odd one out in today’s day and age. 

Q. What would you like to say to students and aspirants who wish to pursue individual career choices after law school, and don’t necessarily wish to join the corporate or litigation race? Any ideas you would like to share which might help motivate or guide them? 

Here are my five tips on pursuing out-of-the ordinary career choices – 

i) You have a head start to ‘success’ because you are charting an unknown territory. You have less competition and no direction. The career path is yours to create as you wish.  

ii) Be open to pivot any time you feel the need. Once you are pursuing a conventional career, the route to success is very well-defined and anything less than what’s normal, is considered a failure. However, when you are on an unknown territory, you can easily pivot to other avenues and create your own success trajectory. 

iii) Your legal education is not just the degree, it’s the amalgamation of all the skills that you imbibe and can be used in anything that you do. 

iv) It’s very common in other fields to branch out and do something completely different. You are not doing anything that’s unheard of. 

v)  Be bold and join the tribe of mavericks. 

Q.   Any parting thoughts you would like to leave with our readers? 

I would like to say just one thing about success. 

Success is not just a law firm or in-house counsel job with fat pay check. 

Success is not just winning competitions and being popular. 

Success is not international travel, 5-star hotel stay, every weekend partying or designer apparel. 

Success is a mind-set. 

Success is being able to do what you love and love what you do. 

Success is being happy in the place you are. 

Success is being instrumental in other’s success stories. 

So whatever you do in your life, enjoy the process and you can be successful. 

Find out more about Ms. Debosmita Nandy – 

Disclaimer – All views and opinions expressed in this interview are personal and belong solely to the interviewee(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the LAABh Foundation or the individuals and institutions associated with LAABh Foundation.

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