Rohit Jain is an associate member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Legal Counsel and a Journalist working at the Bloomberg Quint.
In this episode, we discuss what does it mean for a lawyer to work as a journalist covering many matters and hustling around multiple courtrooms and also how can a law student or a young lawyer plan his career in legal journalism.
Hey budding lawyers!
welcome to the podcast, today we have with us Mr Rohit Jain
Prasanna: Hii Rohit
Rohit Jain: Hii Prasanna
Prasanna: So, Rohit is an associate member of the Institute of company secretaries of India, a legal counsel and a journalist working at Bloomberg quint you may have seen many journalists having a legal background so how is this career option for lawyers? Let’s dig more into this with our guest Mr Rohit Jain in this episode. So, Rohit first tell us why did you chose journalism. I mean you were working for Deloitte as a company secretary there So what made you switch to journalism?
Mr Rohit jain: so, I’ll just start introducing myself because that will help you understand why I switched into journalism so I if you see if you go through my LinkedIn profile so and people tell this to me a lot that I have done like all kinds of education so my educational background is quiet variant and so the same thing happens with my work also so I started out my career with Deloitte consulting India private limited which is basically a large company in Hyderabad. I joined there as a CS trainee then I completed my entire CS training over there I got my membership and I was working in their legal office of general counsel i.e. the legal team. so I worked there for four and half years and that was like a broad or a very long stint by today’s terms. so after working over there I thought it’s time to diversify so I should go into something which I’m good at. so, one thing I knew for sure that I’m good in legal writing and I’m also good in understanding things so that’s how I thought that I should shift into legal journalism and what happened during that time is if you see between 2010 to 2015 a lot of I won’t say they started out but lots of web portals like bar&bench and live law became more popular became more mainstream because as India developed into a like India started developing a lot of people became started becoming aware about Supreme Court they wanted to know more about that so although bar&bench and live live both of these portals started before that but they became more mainstream in this time so that’s how I got I also got attracted to legal writing or a kind of thing so I what I was doing during my education was that I was writing a lot on CAclubIndia which is a good web portal for Chartered Accountants an upcoming company secretary so there I saw that a lot of my articles where getting good attention, good comments and when we say good comments there were also bad comments also.
Prasanna: yeah, thats there always
Mr Rohit Jain: but they were getting hit. so I at least knew that I understand what’s the pulse of the market and what people like reading and what people don’t like reading so that’s how I got a basic understanding that okay so I’m good at writing. so I was waiting for the right opportunity and then this opening at Bloomberg quint came up so I just thought if it works for me then it will be a good opportunity so that’s how I came into legal journalism. there was no preplan thing as such because see at the start of your career if you there are two kinds of people who are very good at planning their career and they just move as per proper plan and then there are other kinds of people who just move on to the next opportunity so for me the start was very good well planned I started out with a very good company but after that I just wanted to diversify I wanted to try new things that’s how I dabbled into legal journalism. So I tried I was working I quite successfully worked in my stint at Deloitte after four to five years that then I thought it’s time to diversify so that’s why that’s how I entered into the world of journalism.
Prasanna: so according to you, you are a mix of two types of people you told, Right?
Mr rohit jain: yeah more than that in fact. You know it’s like I’ve been at the firing range in many interviews and depending on who is interviewing me like people just go through my CV and they say what were you doing at the start of your career? so I just tell them it’s up to you you decide like you try to guess what I’ve done with my career and then you take a call. so that’s how it is like I don’t argue basically
Prasanna: no and one must not. even my profile is somewhat like that. I started as a lawyer and I went to YouTube now I am into multimedia.
Mr rohit jain: but we are all successful in whatever fields we are working so that’s how someone should see that rather than digging through the past like what one was doing 10 years back because even in anything on your CV which is more than five years old is basically irrelevant. so that’s how the world is changing very fast.
Prasanna: yeah exactly and it depends on “why you are doing it”? if you have a clear answer to that you can go anywhere whatever you want to do. That why is very important.
Mr rohit jain: In Fact even if my answer is not unclear but one should see let’s say I’ve done a XYZ degree which was totally unrelated to what I was doing before that, but the end result of that is that I’ve got some knowledge.
Prasanna: exactly. That will not go waste anywhere.
Mr rohit jain: Yep, exactly
Prasanna: so,okay.Not digging into it more Let’s move on to the next question. What is legal journalism and how is there much difference between legal journalism and journalism?
Mr rohit jain: let’s say legal journalism is like any other kind of journalism so If you see the history of journalism, first there was only print media and then came this entire digital wave, Websites, Internet and everything. So in the last 8-10 years what has happened is that there are new avenues opening up in journalism also so lot of new things came up so I will not say this is something new but legal journalism also became a bit popular in recently like in last 10-15 years because specially in corporate or what you call corporate law or legal journalism mainly pertains to both. One which relates to the common man that is civil law, criminal law as well as corporate law. So, I can speak more on the corporate side because I cover more of the changes in the corporate world. So, I won’t say its anything different. It’s only that you deal with companies and things that impact the corporate sector as well as taxation and other things so these are not to do more with day today issues that the common man faces but that has more to do with on the corporate side, but that said, there are lot of things like lot of things take place at the Supreme Court level that affect each and every common man as well as in the high court. So I’ll say legal journalism is mix of both depending on what you are presently emphasizing on. It can be both on issues that pertain to the common man as well as issues which pertain to the corporate side. So legal journalism is just like any other side of journalism but it has to do someone should have legal understanding basically step into the world of legal journalism. Other than that, there is no difference between, say covering a beat, so thats the technical word that people use In journalism if there is any topic or any sector that you cover it.so for example if you’re covering the infrastructure Sector you should know in and out of infrastructure sector. Similarly in the legal sector you should know everything. So if you are told that you are going to track all the cases at NCLT, it’s not that if you are covering a banking company or if you are covering a infrastructure company if you’re covering the legal beat you should know the entire spectrum of laws that you are given to deal with. So that’s how legal journalism is it’s entirely similar to any other form of journalism but it has its own certain pecularities.
Prasanna: and by knowing in and out I think you are saying that you must know the complete hierarchy, how things work practically there and like that?
Mr rohit jain: Yes yes. So let say someone from legal background comes into it then that comes in handy for him like for example, if I was practicing lawyer working for 2 to 3 years and then I join a. Company as a legal journalist then its quiet easy for me. The Challenge lies for a person who is not from a legal background for him. He take some time to learn the intricacies of how things work in court. What an interim order means, what an interim injunction mean. But I think if the person is like fairly dedicated to his work, and has good grasping power, it’s not a challenge for anyone to step into the world of legal journalism the only thing is that one should be very, very careful about what he does because unlike other matters, one cannot be inaccurate or wrong when it comes to legal reporting. It has to be very accurate Otherwise there are lot of side effect also. That’s the most important thing in legal journalism.
Prasanna: So you were also, before the pendemic reporting judgments on supreme court and high court?
Mr rohit jain: So basically, I am based out of Mumbai, so I was primarily task with reporting on the corporate or big high-profile matters in the High Court NCLT, securities appellate tribunal, income tax appellate tribunal. So these were the forum that I was covering.
Prasanna: So you used to visit those courts also?
Mr rohit jain: Yes, yes I was just coming to that. the best part of legal reporting is that you get to visit the courts and during some time in the NCLT Specially there were some…
Prasanna: On a daily basis?
Mr rohit jain: Yes on a daily basis Especially last year, because the insolvency and Bankruptcy Code a lot of new.. 2018 and 2019 I had stepped into the world of journalism in may 2019. So post 2019, I can talk very accurately about that. A lot of new cases came up relating to insolvency, company law as well as corporate dispute, so especially specially in some month during say June, July, August and September, The rooms were like totally packed in the NCLT so, like it was That crazy sometimes and there you have to be in a packed room, Taking out notes standing for long hours because arguments sometimes can go on the entire day depending upon what kind of case is there.
Prasanna: And also depending upon the judge.
Mr rohit jain: Yeah, so a lot of a lot of time in fact i’ll say 60 percent of a journalists time, who reports on courts, prior to the pandemic prior to this entire video conferencing thing came up it was entirely spent in courts and sometimes there are, Like say, there is some lunch break or Maybe some other important case comes up and there is listening of matters in the High Court so that somewhat delays the closure of the day. So one has to be very patient when it comes court reporting. You have to stand there alot and take down notes because at the end of the day you have to file a story and if a case is in the argument phase then you have to pick up the good lines that will make good Story because no one likes to read a Boring story. The main principle is the principle of accuracy, so you cannot be vague or Add spices to what has been said in the court because you might have heard how Supreme Court has. Sometimes they that whatever is being said in the court is not what is being reported. so one has to be like very accurate in what is being reported in the court and not to add any word of your own. So Because mobiles are not allowed inside the court so one has to write in diaries or chits of paper. So one has to be very careful about listening properly. One should have good listening skills and one should have good writing skills also and fast writing.
Prasanna: And the good listening skills is very important because in those courts, of most the courts don’t have the mike. Where the mikes are available in High Courts and supreme court, many judges don’t use those mikes. So we can barely hear that what the judge is saying
Mr rohit jain: sometimes there is a reason behind that because sometimes they may want to discuss something confidential but of course they can. each courts or each of the judges has their their own style.
Prasanna: Because interns or people who are not near to the bench of the judge in the courtroom they are standing Somewhere behind near which they are barely able to hear what’s going on. Many people are even quite sleepy while the arguments are going on. I think that is one reason.
Prasanna: So Most important factor at least in the High Court is that some of the division benches have a press section, so its basically kind of a partition which is near to the judge so that you can hear what is being said. But despite that the other issue is that if you go to bombay high court building is Huge and the courtrooms are like the height of the court is around 40 to 50 feet so there is like a good chance that sound spreads and you may not be able to hear it. So that’s how it works. But if you are attentive enough and if you know broadly what is being argued. Understanding what is being argued is the most important thing and one can only understand it if he pays proper attention from day one. so its not a lazy person to do court reporting. At least I believe in that principle because when I used to go to courts, even if I knew that this argument won’t go into my story, I used to take a note of it because someone makes a counter argument against that argument which can be of reference to me so I should at least know what is being said and in what context. so That’s how you have to be attentive during the court argument.
Prasanna: What did you do if you missed a point or statement made by counsel?
Mr rohit jain: That’s very challenging. if it was a material thing that I used to always cross check with both the parties, but if it wasn’t material to the case then I would just skip reporting on that. Because it’s better to Skip something rather than reported incorrectly, so I would skip or otherwise get crosscheck with other Journalist as well as check it with Both sides. That’s the easiest thing. Sometimes you get a response from the arguing counsels. most of the time in fact, all of them are very helpful. That’s the beauty of this profession. But apart from that but one has to make Contacts that takes time so one learns a lot on the field. And the best thing About the court reporting is that , if you like doing fieldwork, nothing is better than going to a court everyday. Because see there are two So when you visit the courtroom if one matter is listed at say 10:30 AM and the other matter is listed at 2:00 PM in between that one must not waste time when you go to the court you have to talk to the people, people talk to the people in registry,Talk to the people,Talk to the lawyer,Talk to the people over there,Understand what kind of things are going there. Sometimes for journalists it is important you talk to the people. when you talk with people you understand What are the things going on because everything won’t come on your home screen. There are certain things that you have to talk with people and the more You talk the more you understand.. Wide variety of stories you get when you open up yourself. So talking is important in journalism.
you have to talk to people.
Prasanna: Right, Okay, So we know that as legal reporters you have to visit courts everyday and you know, take down notes from whatever matters are going on and report it but apart from that what was the daily schedule,What things do you use to do daily,how your office work used to be? You know, planned and all. how was that?
Mr rohit jain: So first of all, if you are in Mumbai, one has to start early. Because you know how the local transport. If you get let you will have to go through the crowd.. and say if a matter is listed at 10:30 AM or if it is listed high on the board at serial number 4 Or 5 you don’t know basically what matter will be adjourned, What will be kept back and what matter will come at what time? So the only way to ensure all of this is that to be there in time. If a board say the case is listed at serial number 3 in the morning. So you have to reach there at 10:30. So I used to take a local from Ghatkopar at that time In Mumbai, so you can understand if you want to go from that Ghatkopar to get down at dadar then change your line and then again go to CST, then walk to the high court So one has to start very early in the morning and sometimes what happens if you are not so proactive journalist even if You have been given a beat, say be in charge of tracking all the activities in the court that are located in the city of Mumbai but should not limit oneself to only that particular territory. So what I used to do is I also even today I do that so I also follow lots of cases at the supreme Court and the Delhi High Court. Because these are the courts where lot of commercial matters take up. Like especially arbitration matters if you want to track there is no other court than the Delhi high court that one should track on a daily basis. So Delhi High Court, Supreme Court, Karnataka high court,Telangana high court and the Bombay high court. These high courts are in my radar quite a lot. So sometimes if you get up early in the morning you have to also check the daily orders that these courts have given Because most of the time, for example, the IT companies based out of Bangalore and Hyderabad, so lot of them have head offices in Bangalore and Hyderabad So if it’s a large listed company that is involved in some kind of litigation, it may be that you will have to also track those cases and if you have to report on that you have to check the daily order. if there is any case that you are missing out so early in the morning when I wake up. In fact, everyday, even today I check all the daily orders of these courts and sometimes you also have to check regulators like say Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, SEBI because I also report on regulatory development. So if there is any change in the listing regulations, material change in the listing regulations I also have to do an explainer on that. So I in fact at least 3 to 4 times in the day I check the MCA website, IBBI website, SEBI website, NFRA website because lot of action is taking place on the Auditor front. You have to basically check the entire spectrum of things. sometimes I also check CIC website (Central Information Commission)and even ITAT,Lot of litigation, anything that pertains to Corporate India, you never know the more website you visit,the same thing, the more you talk,the more information you get. Similarly, the more websites you visit, the more things that you will get. So last time there were lot of changes with respect to consumer law in August and september last year So for that front I was visiting the Ministry of Consumer Affairs a lot, the website. so that how it is. at the start of the day you have to check the daily orders and check what’s the cause list. sometimes cause lists are not even updated in some of the forums. Sometimes this is not the daily thing but the cause list may not be even Updated. and based on what the cause list is you have to decide because see if you are the alone Reporter for a particular city there where there have been instances where matter came up at the same time in NCLT as well as the High court. Or sometimes even at three different forums. So at that time you don’t have any other option but to skip one of them. So you have to take your own judgement on the basis of what particular stage of case is in. like if there are just argument going on then maybe say you can skip a case and go to the other one which is more so relevant. so It all depends and sometimes You can ask people over there if I missed out on Anything so that how your day begins and so, apart from court reporting, I also do lot of features stories. Feature stories is anything other than new story. Like say If there is an amendment, if there is any new GST circular or The Competition Commission of India has passed any order. The last story I worked on was relating to GST audits. The GST Department is issuing a lot of notices and the section 65 of CGST act for GST for initiating departmental audit. Before you know So how do you come to know about all these things you have Speak with tax professional, so that’s how it works. You have to assimilate information. You have to pick out the most relevant aspect out of that and you have to take a judgement call. You have to discuss it with your editor and try to tell them that this is relevant from XYZ perspective and then frame it into a story in a simple manner that people understand. So that’s how it works.
Prasanna: So how are you working now during the pedemic? there are some courts that are open some courts are not yet completely open and working fully. So how are you working nowadays?
Mr Rohit Jain: So if I can be like honest the last 4-5 months have been a bit slow in terms of newsflow out of courts but at the start of the pendamic I can tell you the exact timeframe from april to July the newsflow was quite good Because there were lot of cases with respect to force majeure and other provisions under the indian contract act etc. So lots of judgements were coming up. Post July the newsflow out of courts had somewhat slowed down so thats where you try to balance it out by doing more kind of non news story. That is the feature stories. You have to talk to people Or you have to apply your own thinking like let’s say the government, They revised the MSME threshold that is the Micro Small and Medium Industries. The government After a long time like after a span of 10 to 15 years increase the span of what Particular enterprise can be classified as micro, small and medium industry so if one is well read enough because I am from the legal side, I know that there is a provision in the MSME act that says that if a company defaults in making payments to MSME vendors beyond a particular period then the company which defaults payments will have to pay penal interest at a certain rate which is like very high. so the natural story that comes out of this is that if the revision in definition of the MSME threshold will benefit small businesses so that’s how I did a story and that was like very quick story. Thats how you try to relate things. Like if there is an amendment how does it impact corporate india how does it impact common person, how does it impact ease of doing business in India? There are lot of sites that You can pull out of Legal happening that comes up.
Prasanna: So you were saying after July the newflow reduced. any specific reason for that?
Mr Rohit Jain: So lot of newsflow you can see in the NCLT When down, because you know there was a suspension of IBC for a period of 6 months And lot of cases that we were reporting on last year. Like lot of large insolvency matters, they reached some somewhat final stage, so like I wont mention any name but most of the most important matters that were there at the IBC Final stage of resolution so near the final stage of resolution It’s just an approval process in the court so the news flow i wont say slowed down changed, but it changed like mostly in 2019, a lot of reporting was done being done with respect to SAT ( The Securities Appellate ) and NCLT. then this year the ball shifted Back to the High Court because lot of commercial cases went back to the high court earlier it was in NCLT because the entire so corporate litigation it comes out of only Companies Act or the SEBI related rules and regulations. it is either at the NCLT that we were reporting last year. But lots of commercial disputes started due to this pandemic and the ball shifted back to the high court And then after that it normalise. So there is like up and down in the legal flow. So like some people are saying that may be next year at the start of the next year court reportes will be again very much busy. Now that’s what I’m listening to from people or from lawyers because I talk to lawyers a lot so they are saying that, okay if there has been in the past few days Let’s wait for next quarter you’ll get a lot of commercial litigation at that time. It Just also Sometimes what happens is what a reader wants to read. Reader will want to read say if you’re an investor say in xyz company and if there is a court related news relating to that xyz company then youll read it so sometimes if there is no news pertaining to that company then maybe you wont report on that bit so at that time you have to pitch in the other aspect that is the non-news stories. Think about stories which are like there are different words for that but you can call it as a feature story or a long term story. So like right now the training topic are Labour laws like everyone is Affected. If you are working in a company youll also be affected, ill also be affected. Common man on the street will be affected its like for the first time in last 60 years that new labour laws has come up You can, the more you read Labour laws, the more you talk to people will understand. Okay,this has changed so lets make a story let’s make a story. Its a long process you;ve to research a lot Search a lot You have to read a lot, but it’s fun.
prasanna: okay so what skills do you think are good to have to become a legal journalist?
Mr Rohit Jain: So i’ll say the core skill that one should have it all depends on what side of journalism you are going into. like basically in terms of journalism there are two broad heads that you can classify journalism into. One is print journalism and the second is video or news journalism. I can only talk about print side of it or the digital side of it or the what you call the written media mo because im more into that. For a person who wants to go into print journalism or digital journalism the most important thing is writing skills because if you’re joining as a journalist no one would is expected to teach you how to write. That you can do it during your internship but there are certain inherent skills that one should have otherwise. So the more important skill one should have is writing and when I say writing it sometimes if you’re fresh out of your law school or say if you’re a CS professional so what happens with them is that they’re good at writing what we can broadly say is that academic writing. they are good at academic writing, they are good at writing legal research papers and that’s a very important skill one should have but when it comes to legal writing and legal journalism the principle thing is that you should write and you should be able to write things that a common man understands. The purpose of legal journalism is that you have to simplify things that are very in nature. Otherwise say if there is 20 page judgement everyone can read that but why wont people read that because they won’t understand it or they don’t have the time to do that so the thing is that you have to explain it to them and that can be only achieved if you’re good in writing. So writing is the most important and if you have primary skills that one should have and equally important is because this is legal journalism. You should have an understanding of reading judgments. you should have understanding of interpreting laws because see there are and again in legal journalism there are just court reporters who report on day in and day out on courts and there are reporters like me who court matters as well as non court matters so for people who have wider area that you have to cover you also need to understand laws and for that you have to read. so one must read a judgement one should have the understanding of reading a judgement and interpreting it and its not rocket science or something. If one is good and sincere i think one for him. So two important skills are understanding the law and second is writing skills. And when I come to say writing skills, see there are certain standards that different media organisations follow. Each one has their own style like no two person can write even a small instance or small incident in a very similar manner.. Everyone has his own style of writing. Everyone has his own things that he will concentrate on. Everyone is good at that. Everyone has his own point of view towards a particular thing.The main important thing in legal writing is what I will say is that you should be able to have an Understanding how to provide a proper flow to your Story. like your Story should start, it should come to a height and then it should conclude so there should be a proper flow the Story and this all you will achieve over a period of time. It’s not like you join and in the first month itself. Your Story will be put sometimes even when I write something. When I write an article and when it gets published and the second day when I read it I can think I can think of it in a better way, so there’s no perfect Story as such. You can always better yourself so I I’ll say broadly two important skills that person aspiring to be a legal journalist should have for that legal writing and understanding and for that reading is very important. One Cannot be lazy. The more you read the more it becomes for you. And when I think reading is not just court related material, you can read articles on what other journalists write, because if you see if you read columns in newspapers and if you read long long form articles there you can see. Because what People generally telling journalist is that the attention span of people is not more than one minute when when you read on a mobile device. So if you want to retain a reader’s attention then You should be able to write in such a fluid manner that the person is tempted to Scroll down more than two or three times so that he reads your entire Story and just to make that Story, you can spend like a long time in this writing a 5 minute Story. So that’s how it goes. So you have to write, write, write, write, write. Read read read read and then some combine into the base form so that is the only thing. And a lot of people may also pose a question like do you need a mass communication degree in legal journalism. I say that will be a good thing, but if you don’t have it, it does not mean that you can’t come into journalism. because there are a lot of people I know who are from pure legal background or who don’t have a mass communication degree. Even I don’t have mass communication degree But I think I’m doing well for myself so that you can conclude very busy.
Prasanna; Yeah, right. And also one more skill which you said earlier is the listening skills. I think that we must add here.
Mr Rohit Jain: Yeah, and the listening skill is both in the courts as well as when you talk to people for getting their views. So at that time also you should not miss quote a person so generally in journalism you prefer written quotes. But sometimes experts senior counsels they’re all busy so you have to talk with them and then paraphrase what they say. So there also your listening skills are very important.
Prasanna; yeah, I was just imagining whatever are you were saying. so have you faced like some challenges while reporting such thing? Taking some bites? What were the challenges? Can you give some examples
so I remember my first day of journalism was I was reporting a case in the security appellate tribunal that case in Midway, it was it so the best thing is if you track any case right from day one, then you know which side is representing home and who is saying what that you can do very easily. But my first day of work as a journalist or as a Reporter, I went to the security appellate tribunal for Reporting on a case and I for the first 10 to 15 minutes I was just trying to understand who is representing whom. so that kind of fun happens
Prasanna; that actually happens with many people who start like the new lawyers or interns. they face a lot.
Mr Rohit Jain: and the Another aspect to that is sometimes there were lot of respondents in the particular case, so you can see a lot number of people standing. So that’s why I said like if you are tracking court case right from day one,then there is nothing better than that.
Prasanna; Yeah yeah, yeah it’s been said a lot that journalism doesn’t pay you much. How much can one expect to get paid in this field? Can you just give a general idea?
Mr Rohit Jain: I won’t go into putting any figure because see, right now the stage..
Prasanna: no no figure is not necessary,
Mr Rohit Jain: So I’ll explain to you how things work. See Media as a sector is just like any other sector. There are some companies who have a very large operation, there are start ups,There are established names and there are names which are like on a decline. Just like any other industry. You cannot make a very broad statement that media sector is like you cannot compare. first of all, You cannot compare media with other fields because there are a lot of industry specific limitations also that media faces and this is not only in India If you see worldwide, media sector was not in a good shape for a long duration. So that may also be one of the reasons why people have this sort of understanding that media sector does not pay well, but I will disagree with that because I know a lot of people who are earning good being in the media profession. So I would say that the media sector is like any other sector. it’s not that media pays less or media pays more than any other sector. at the start There are companies who are operating in a certain, what you call, fear like some companies are established names, some trying to start up or some doing very niche things. So they take some time to become or to establish a brand of their own. your pay slip will depend upon your situation, the kind of company you join, the level of, the position that you report to, whether you join as an editor, whether you join as a camera person. So it all depends and you cannot compare media with any other field I can say that for sure. But after a span of time when you spend time in media you become an experienced professional the salary cap between any other sector and media won’t be that much, that’s for sure, because see if media has less people coming into it then it also means that there is less supply and beyond a point of time, you cannot replace experience with the number of people, so in any organisation You need to have experienced people, you need to have freshers and you need to have middle level management. So that’s how things work not only in the media sector, but in any other sector. So like, I’ll just say that media at the start maybe you will get paid less, but after a point of time, your salary gap with your colleagues or with your peers won’t be that much provided, provided that you work hard.
Prasanna: yeah, yeah that comes without saying. Okay, so how will you guide young lawyers or law students who are planning to get into legal journalism? Any tips you want to give to them? Mr Rohit Jain: this Question I get a lot on LinkedIn or Because Linkedin is a good platform. So what I would say if someone wants to get into legal journalism the first thing is that it depends on when you think of going into legal journalism. Like do you think it right from your first year if you are in a five year law course, like say or maybe at the end of your course. It all depends because see if you think of entering into the world of legal journalism by your fourth or fifth year, you’re better equipped to think about that because at that point of time you get some sort of understanding as well as maturity that is required to enter into the world of any profession, not just law. so 4th and 5th year I think are more crucial by that time you understand like where you want to go and what you want to do. If someone wants to enter the world of legal journalism, one must have the same that I said before is that you should have a genuine interest in the legal reporting and the law field as such. so it can be in the form of like having a having an interest in legal developments or in what the courts say or what the government does. So one must have a genuine interest into the world of legal journalism. Otherwise if you enter it without any particular interest or without any Particular love for it, then it becomes just that you go to the court and report. You lose interest in that so the 1st and most important thing that one should have is a genuine interest in what one is doing. And the second thing is that if you want to enter into the world of legal journalism, one should start reading and writing a lot and to get it to checked by your peers or your teacher so that it starts you can you get a sort of understand like whether people are liking your writing skills or not. And it does not matter if someone likes it or not, because ultimately in the long run you will get better each day. But if people genuinly want to get into legal journalism they should first check whether they like these kind of things and whether they are ready to not work in a law firm and or not practise individually. So because they will have to forgo one of those opportunities and they will also have to check weather they want to remain in the media field in the long run. Sometimes people come to the media field and then they may or may not like it. So one should have a long term vision of anything.
Prasanna: Yeah, and by writing, I think starting participating in research paper competitions like writing research papers and all that will help him a lot, right?
Mr Rohit Jain: Research papers or in fact these days the best platforms are undoubtedly blogs. In fact, I read. I cannot give feedback to anyone like but whatever I follow younger people More on LinkedIn because One of my earlier bosses told me and that principle I follow a lot, at least. He followed this principle. So what he said is that when you become a senior and when you hire a person, hire a person who is smarter than you.. That’s how you come to know, whom you are competing with the next generation and where you are lagging. If you can better yourself because learning is a contentious process. So in fact on LinkedIn also, I read a lot of student general submissions and everything, but I’ll see journal writing is a good thing, no doubt if you get published in a good research Journal, then there is nothing like that like say Oxford or something like a good reputed journal that adds to your CV a lot. But for legal journalism, equally important is that you write a blog of your own. You write your own comments on a particular case within the ambit that is allowed and the limits like you cannot be like very sharp in your criticism, because you know how things are. so you can do a mild analyssis of any particular judgement or any particular theme that is happening in the legal world. So that’s how you because see after a point of time journalists that are there,also write their own opinion, so that’s fine, opinion or a column in a newspaper so at that time you help have your own views. You cannot persuade Yourself by the views of others, so you should have a standpoint of your own. So if you say that A is good and B is bad then you should be able to justify why A and B is bad. at that stage you have to start early. So that’s how you should have an opinion. I know lawyers are very good at opinion. That’s how you succeed as a lawyer. if you have an opinion that this thing is bad and then its bad. and if it’s good, it’s good, so that’s how it works.
Prasanna: OK so would you recommend any courses or books for you know, young law students who are planning for a career in legal journalism?
Mr Rohit Jain: so there are a lot of courses on writing or one can just start reading an article. There are no specific courses that come up to my mind because I’m myself from and non mass communications background. So I particularly don’t know about if there is any or if there is even even any need to do a mass communication course. Although it’s recommended and it’s good because most of the best journalists from the journalism fraternity have Mass communication background. there are a lot of courses on coursera that give you a very basic understanding of how to write, and it’s not just legal journalism but how the write in general. So how journalism works? What’s the history of journalism? How do you write things? And mostly what ill say is self learning. so you have to basically you can do these learning courses that are available on coursera or even LinkedIn. Linkedin has some good courses on writing, but mostly it’s the skill that is inherent in you. You should Start writing and take feedback. Nothing is better than that, so you can do end number of courses, but ultimately it comes up to you because that’s a personal skill. Writing is a personal skill, So what I say is the best way to start on a very limited scale is that if you are in the college discuss the topic on any particular day and ask it like if you are a group of three to four like minded people Discuss the topic and Say that lets write a One page of document on that. Second day what you can do is peer review kind of thing like you will review someone else’s work, someone else will review your work and then take the feedback. and all of the four friend are part of the same group and you have a good understanding between yourself then understand where you were lagging. And the most important thing is one should learn to respect others views. if you are not good at that and if You cannot take a critic so there is a difference between vague criticism and criticism , but taking feedback on your work is equally.
Prasanna: right, OK, so moving on to the last question we have always in a podcast episode is that can you share any incident from your career which is very memorable?
Mr Rohit Jain: That’s I remember i started out as a like I told that at start of the career, in a view that i have a very zigzag career. So I started out initially in a private limited bank so it was a private bank I was working in a rural branch and it was my second day of work. It was literally my second day of work and this was back in 2012. So it was like 8 years back. So, its 2012, it’s my second day and our circle head thats the person who is head of entire state. So our circle head visits our branch at that time our branch was not doing that well when it comes to certain parameters. So at that time it was a normat briefing that you have, like if any of your seniors visits the branch office especially in banks. so they access the branch on particular parameters. so each and every employee had to basically explain what he has done over a particular span of time. So because it was my second day so I had to basically say something you cannot be silent. I was under pressure because it was my first job in my life and someone stranger comes up. He was like reporting directly to the CEO at that time. So it was that senior in the system when it came up I just told him that I know this won’t be a proper answer, but i was just trying to learn because this is my second day at job. And then I told him something I don’t remember but i told him something. So everything was done. they were happy chatting with everyone and then the person went away. Then my branch manager or my boss called me in the office and then he said Like what did you do? I was quite worried because that was my second day at job and did I do something wrong because fresh out of college you don’t know how to speak. So i was afraid. To add to the funny aspect of that two of my collegue were called. It was a small branch of 4-5 people and they were trying to say ultimately they were trying to say You did a good job. This is how you should address your senior, but for a moment brief moment I was a bit afraid. that stayed with me because that was my first job and that was a brief stint. I left that job for some other reason but that was a memorable one because it was a banking rural and you Really learn a lot when you go in a bank in a rural area. That kind of Adversities people face And there were lot of issues and i was in a area which was like got kind of area. So that 6-7 months that I was there in that private banks. That was a memorable one for me and this incident stays with me a lot.
Prasanna: yeah, nice one. Okay Rohit, thanks a lot for this wonderful conversation and sharing your experience with us.