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Law Student Busts Stereotypes: Harvey Specter’s ‘Bullshit’ Style Of Law Ain’t How It Is!

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By Shivani Chimnani

Being a law student, one has to face a plethora of conjectures on one’s own student life and what the profession entails, pretty much on a daily basis. The white shirts and black coats get an extremely raw deal when it comes to popular perception, and just this once I’d like to argue my case and settle this for eternity in the public court (or YKA court at least). So here they are, the top common perceptions (or misconceptions) about lawyers and their lives:

1) Is your life like ‘Suits’?

Not even remotely like ‘Suits‘. ‘Suits’ is actually pretty superficial, whereas the law isn’t. It portrays law to be an extremely casual profession where Harvey Specter merely says two extravagant legal phrases, a dash of fancy jargon, swoops in and saves the day every goddamn time and not to mention the best lawyer at the firm is a fraud.
Well, what it fails to show is the immense hard work and effort that each lawyer puts in to win his case instead of fretting over secretaries all day. Harvey Specter may stride into court with his Armani suit and badass arguments and refute everything the defense says by saying “that’s bullshit” and case closed. But in reality, “bullshit” amounts to contempt of court, and that my friends is a non-bailable offence.

harvey specter suits

2) Do you know all laws of our country? Can you tell me the law governing animals?

You may be a history student, do you know what happened in the mid-16th century in the west of Bulgaria? Similarly, no law student or lawyer for that matter knows all the law even if the person is a prodigy or an exalted genius. Everything in life is governed by law, from the roof over your head to the ground beneath your feet, it’s pretty vast you see! It is not humanely possible to know every law, hence people specialize.

3) I think you should choose corporate law over criminal law.

First, those are not the sole two areas of law which exist. It’s a wonderfully vast field including several areas such as outer space law, aviation law, environmental law, sports law, cyber law, intellectual property, military law, real estate, media law, medical law and the list is endless (Yes there are lawyers practicing aviation law, how cool is that?!). Second, a law student knows much more about the details entailing each work than the person who watches law sitcoms, so I guess he can pretty much decide for himself.

4) Oh, so you’re going to be a lawyer soon? I actually have an ongoing dispute, could you give me some advice?

Everyone will try to pawn on for free legal advice. But a law student is not a machine emitting statutes and enactments of every material thing that ever existed. No, I do not know about the legal intricacies of immigration laws or how to get you out of murder charges.

5) The lawyers who defend criminals are sadists.

No, they aren’t. First, the rule of law guarantees every person a right to representation and fair trial, even the most brutal terrorist. A lawyer is bound to defend a person accused of crime regardless of personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused. They have to have their loyalty towards the law which requires that no man (or woman) should be punished without evidence (this is a law itself). Second, one has to remember they are individuals practicing a profession like any other person in consonance with due process. If there were no counsels for defense, would you call it justice? They do so to earn a meal, not perpetuate crime in the society, so think twice before judging.

6) He argues all the time, he’ll make a good lawyer.

If he/she argues all the time, he’s/she’s just daft and self-righteous. Law isn’t about arguing profusely, it’s about intense reading and research and making sane arguments. A lot of jobs (i.e. LPO’s, corporations, consultancy firms, mediation, non-litigation departments of various firms, etc.) don’t even require arguing where it’s mainly the hardcore research or immaculate drafting or simply rendering legal advice. It’s more about effective persuasion than aimless argumentation.

7) A law degree sounds so ‘rad’, your life must be pretty cool!

Naah, we’re pretty nerdy actually. Unless you consider studying cool (which it is by the way).

8) All lawyers are greedy, all they care for is money.

If all lawyers were greedy, thousands of them wouldn’t be striving relentlessly, fighting for human rights, animal rights, environmental rights, religious freedom and sexual rights so you could have a better tomorrow. Besides even the lawyers who don’t fight for social causes in particular, indulge in a lot of pro bono work as part of their corporate social responsibility. They don’t seem very greedy now, do they?

These are few unrealistic expectations and peculiar questions that every law student encounters. But as the saying goes “appearances can be deceptive”. Whatever said and done, the legal profession still manages to be the most beautiful profession contributing to the progress and evolution of mankind every living moment. As Aristotle once said, “It is better for the law to rule than one of the citizens.”

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You must be to comment.
  1. MajorBS

    All true and agreed except that in the show Harvey Specter never goes to court, with the exception of one instance, so far all of his cases have been closed out of court.

  2. Nilay

    This may be true but the drama that SUITS can’t be matched.

    All you lawyers out there please don’t try this at work!

    1. Nilay

      This may be true but the drama that SUITS creates can’t be matched.

      All you lawyers out there please don’t try this at work!

  3. Kartik Khamesra

    You do know it’s a SITCOM right ? No one is sitting there watchin this show to learn Law or become a lawyer. Some of us just want some good quality entertainment.

    Going by your analogy, one can write an article on how vampires are defying laws of physics in Vampire Diaries. When the vampire is not real…then the argument that it is defying the laws of physics doesn’t apply here…

  4. sohan Dilip kumawat

    Thanks to youth ki awaz for such of best article on our surrounding it is platform from where changes take place in india country

  5. Punee

    Lol. Indian Law Practice and American Law Practice are entirely different. The author was speaking to an Indian law student here.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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