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Creating Your Luck: A Guide for Aspiring Law Students and Young Lawyers

Herbert Hoover once said, "A fisherman must be of contemplative mind, for it is often a long time between bites. He is by nature an optimist or he would not go fishing; for we are always going to have better luck in a few minutes or tomorrow."

This optimism, this belief in the possibility of better luck, is something that applies to more than just fishing. It's a mindset that law students and young lawyers can adopt as they face the challenging and competitive world of legal practice.

In the legal profession, we often hear people attribute their success to "luck." Phrases like, "He's so lucky to get an internship in his coveted law firm," or "She's lucky to have a job offer in a Big Law," are not uncommon. But is it really luck, or have these individuals created their luck by seizing opportunities and being prepared when they come knocking?

This blog explores the idea that luck can be influenced and even created by those willing to hustle, recognize opportunities, and become unique in their approach.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, luck is defined as "a force that brings good fortune or adversity." This enigmatic force can either bless us with success or burden us with adversity. However, Seneca, a prominent Stoic philosopher of Ancient Rome, provides an alternative viewpoint: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." This definition underscores the critical role of preparation in shaping one's luck.

My journey into understanding the nuances of luck and chance began with a LinkedIn post by Sahil Bloom. This post led me to further research and eventually to the chapter of Dr. James H. Austin's book that deals with the concept of "Varieties of Chances."

Dr. James H. Austin's important work in 1978, "Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty," explored the concept of luck in medical research. He identified four different types of luck, showing how luck, chance, and unexpected discoveries are significant in our lives. This knowledge isn't only relevant to medicine; it also offers valuable lessons for young lawyers and law students who are working towards their goals.

The insight was eye-opening and got me thinking: Why can't young lawyers and law students use this wisdom to achieve their dreams instead of just blaming their luck? Aspiring lawyers and law students can use Dr. James H. Austin's advice to create opportunities and find success in their careers.

Let's explore the four different kinds of luck, and how a young lawyer or law student can harness them:

A. Chance I or Blind Luck is completely impersonal. The good luck that occurs is completely accidental. It is pure blind luck that comes with no effort on our part. No particular personality trait is in operation.

Imagine if your dad, mom, or someone in your family has a big and important job in the legal world, like being a judge or a senior lawyer. We call this "Blind Luck." It's like a fortunate accident because you didn't plan it, and it's not because of something you did. But if you decide to become a lawyer too, you might have some great opportunities given to you easily because of their important role and influence. It's like having things handed to you on a silver platter.

However, this type of luck only gives you a head start. To truly succeed in your legal career, you'll need to put in a lot of hard work. I've seen lawyers who initially benefited from their family's influence but faded away when that influence waned. They became average lawyers, not because of their skills but because they relied too much on family connections.

On the other hand, I've also seen lawyers who used this initial advantage as a stepping stone and then worked hard to establish themselves, even after their family's influence diminished.

So, if you want to make a lasting impact in the legal profession, don't rely solely on Blind Luck; explore the other three types of luck to achieve your goals.

B. Chance II or The Kettering Principle, according to Dr. Austin, favors those who have a persistent curiosity about many things coupled with an energetic willingness to experiment and explore. Chance favours those in motion. This is all about being curious and open to trying new things. It's like being in motion, exploring different ideas and activities. When you're constantly trying new stuff and moving around, you create opportunities for good luck to happen.

Dr. Austin's idea is that you can't just sit still and expect good things to come your way. You need to be proactive and keep trying new things. It's like stirring a pot of ideas, and sometimes, unexpected and lucky things can happen. It's all about staying active and open to new experiences, and the more you do this, the better your chances of stumbling upon something great.

So, Chance II involves the kind of luck Kettering, the automotive engineer, had in mind when he said, in effect, “Keep on going, and you’ll stumble on something.”

If you're a young lawyer or a law student hoping to find opportunities and boost your chances of success, it's really about staying active and involved. You can make your own luck by being proactive. That means actively taking part in things like going to seminars, workshops, and webinars, joining moot court competitions, spending time in court during your breaks, and getting internships.

The concept is to keep yourself in circulation, and consistently on the move. By doing so, you open doors to interactions with new people, exposure to diverse environments, and the chance to tackle different challenges. In this dynamic process, you draw in luck.

But, it's vital to steer clear of actions that don't lead to anything. Be sure that what you're doing has a purpose and connects with your goals. It's important to tell the difference between just doing stuff and making real progress. While you shouldn't waste your energy on things that don't help, you also shouldn't wait until you're absolutely sure you'll succeed before you start. Success often happens for those who take the initiative, so keep going and actively look for chances.

Suppose you aspire to become an arbitration lawyer. In that case, it's crucial to immerse yourself in the world of arbitration by attending seminars, seeking speaking opportunities, participating in workshops, and enrolling in relevant courses. By actively engaging in these activities and continually interacting with well-established lawyers in this field, you increase the chances of forming valuable connections. These connections might lead to mentorships, job offers, or even partnerships in your legal journey.

The opportunities that can come from your active participation in the legal world are endless. It's crucial to keep going, working hard, and growing your connections. I've hardly seen anyone succeed by just staying in their room, cut off from the world of chances that are out there. Success often happens for those who get out there, interact with people, and actively get involved in opportunities.

Dr. Austin suggests that to have this kind of luck, you should have certain personal qualities: be curious about many things, be persistent, and be open to trying new things and exploring. Try to make these qualities a part of who you are and work on developing them. Just keep moving forward, and luck will find you.

Remember: The dog that trots about finds a bone.

C. Dr. Austin introduces the concept of Chance III, also known as The Pasteur Principle. This type of luck favours individuals who possess:

A Solid Knowledge Base: Having a strong foundation of knowledge in a particular field.

Special Abilities: These include the capacity to observe, remember, recall information, and form significant new connections quickly.

Chance III, unlike Blind Luck, is less obvious and not easily noticed. It offers subtle hints of potential opportunities, which many people might miss. But those who have the unique ability to observe, imagine, and truly understand the importance of these hints can benefit from them. Louis Pasteur's famous quote, "Chance favors only the prepared mind," captures this idea. It means that being wise and perceptive to see new facts or ideas in different ways is what leads to good luck. In simple terms, it's about having the ability to make smart decisions and realize the importance of seemingly small hints or chances.

Chance III, known as The Pasteur Principle, is all about being aware. This awareness comes from your past experiences and preparedness. When you're ready, you start noticing opportunities that others might miss. You have this special ability to see and understand things before they become clear to others. This heightened awareness lets you spot and grab opportunities that others might not see right away.

Let's consider an example to highlight this concept. Imagine you're well-prepared and highly aware of the evolving legal landscape. You keep a watchful eye on the latest legal developments, including areas of law that are in high demand, emerging legal trends, and upcoming changes in the legal landscape. You take proactive steps to prepare yourself to become an expert in Data Law. Recognizing that data laws were becoming increasingly significant worldwide, you anticipated the upcoming changes in India, too. You understood that when the Data Privacy Law was passed in India, it would create numerous opportunities for legal experts in this field.

With a clear strategy and determined goals, you spent five years mastering data laws. You gained a deep understanding of this legal domain, ensuring you were well-prepared for the moment the legislation was enacted. And when the Data Privacy Law was ultimately introduced in India in 2023 you were ready and quickly became a highly sought-after lawyer.

This success is not just luck; it's a result of your readiness and astute observation. Thanks to your proactive awareness and diligent preparation, you've positioned yourself as an expert in data laws. When the legislation arrived, you were well-prepared and at the forefront of this legal field. So, you become a lawyer that everyone wants because businesses and organizations need your expert help to understand data protection laws, which can be pretty tricky.

Your preparedness, informed by your knowledge and discernment, has enabled you to seize this opportunity with both hands. In a way, you've made your own luck because big companies really want to have you on board to get advice about data protection laws. Your proactive attitude and preparation have turned you into a successful professional, with opportunities coming your way one after the other.

Let's consider another example. In 2016, the Indian Parliament passed new insolvency laws, leading to the establishment of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). Some individuals with keen awareness and foresight recognized the significance of these legal changes and the potential they held.

These proactive individuals chose to focus primarily on this evolving area of law. They didn't stop at merely studying the new regulations but actively engaged with them. They began appearing in NCLT and NCLAT proceedings, authored articles discussing the challenges and issues arising from the implementation of these new laws, and actively participated in discussions, workshops, and think tanks dedicated to insolvency law.

Their dedication and readiness didn't go unnoticed. Over a relatively short period, they established themselves as prominent figures in the field of insolvency law. Some of them even rose to become industry stalwarts. What's remarkable is that these individuals, once relatively unknown, achieved this level of success because they recognized the opportunities early and diligently prepared themselves to seize them.

This bunch of lawyers had the wisdom to spot the growing opportunities when others didn't see them. They were ready for new challenges in the insolvency field, and that's what made them successful. You could say their preparedness made them lucky. Meanwhile, those who failed to seize these opportunities remained in the background, primarily because they didn't possess the ability to observe, remember, and form innovative connections. Basically, being ready and taking action made their luck happen.

Let's think about the world of arbitration law in India. It's been around in the legal scene for a while, but now it's becoming even more important as an option instead of the usual civil court processes. Both the legislature and the judiciary have emphasized and supported arbitration. This is opening up new chances for young lawyers.

Arbitration can now cover a wide array of civil disputes. Recent judicial practices have shown a more lenient stance in upholding arbitration clauses. When contracts specify arbitration as the dispute resolution mechanism, courts are increasingly directing parties to arbitration.

The changing legal scene in arbitration is a great chance for young pros and law students to make their own luck. Whether it's in your own country or in the international arena, arbitration is becoming a big deal in the legal world. If you're looking to start a career in law, this is an opportunity you should grab.

Additionally, upcoming areas like mediation laws, cyber laws, and GST laws also hold substantial promise for young lawyers.

To make the most of the third type of luck, you have to develop a personality that's all about having a strong knowledge base and the skills to notice, remember, and quickly make new connections. In other words, being ready and able to adjust can put you in a good spot to take advantage of these legal changes.

D. Let's delve into Chance IV, known as The Disraeli Principle. This form of luck is inclined toward individuals who possess unique and, at times, even eccentric hobbies, personal lifestyles, and behavioural traits. It's all about favouring personalized actions and embracing one's distinctiveness.

Certainly, fortunate events often occur when you embrace your individual qualities and act in a way that's true to who you are. In the case of Chance IV, good luck is the result of your personalized actions. This type of luck happens when you take actions that are uniquely yours, with your own personal style.

For lawyers, this kind of luck comes from your uniqueness or your expertise in a specific area of law. It's a bit like what the English Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, meant when he said, "We make our fortunes and we call them fate."

Chance IV is the kind of luck that naturally comes your way, not because you went looking for it, but because of your identity and how you do things. Disraeli understood that a lot of the seemingly unpredictable turns in life happen because of the decisions we make and the special things that make us who we are.

In the legal world, this means that your unique skills, quirks, or specialized knowledge can make you stand out and lead to unexpected opportunities and achievements. By being yourself and staying true to what makes you special, you can create a path to a successful and rewarding legal career. Keep in mind, what might seem like luck often comes from your choices and who you are.

Here's an example: When you establish yourself as a unique or highly regarded expert in a specific area of law, you don't have to actively search for work. Instead, companies and organizations seek you out for advice, invite you to deliver lectures, conduct workshops, or participate in TV or podcast discussions regarding that particular area of law. This recognition and demand come your way because you've positioned yourself as an authority in that field. This kind of luck and opportunity arises once you've distinguished yourself and become truly exceptional in your chosen legal domain.

Remember, the era of being a generalist has passed. In today's world, it's all about being a specialist. Focus on one or two specific fields of law. The days of being a "Jack of All Trades" are over; instead, strive to become a master in one area. By doing so, you will quickly gain recognition in that field, and people will actively seek your expertise. This specialization will bring you good luck.

If your goal is to join prestigious law firms, having expertise or in-depth knowledge in a particular field will significantly increase your chances. The truth is, that many CVs submitted to top law firms for internships or full-time positions share similar backgrounds. Set yourself apart. Make your CV stand out. It will be unique if you possess knowledge in a specific area that distinguishes you from others.

For instance, if you're an expert in evaluating damages resulting from a terminated contract or if you have specialized knowledge of Indian laws, people may reach out to you for your expertise. They might seek your assistance in arbitration or court cases to assess the damages incurred due to contract terminations or call you as a witness to testify on Indian laws. This is how good luck comes your way. Your expertise opens doors and opportunities you might not have had otherwise.

In the present legal landscape, large law firms have specialized teams for various aspects of general litigation or dispute resolution. They maintain separate divisions for areas like insolvency, arbitration, white-collar crimes, employment laws, labour laws, and more. If you establish your reputation by writing articles and participating in workshops, discussions, webinars, seminars, and so on, these firms may take notice and seek your expertise.

Suppose you're interested in corporate law. In that case, you can focus on gaining proficiency in areas like mergers and acquisitions (M&A), security laws, or competition laws. This specialization can provide you with an initial foothold in the legal industry and, over time, transform you into a highly sought-after expert in your chosen field.

To harness this kind of luck, focus on having unique hobbies, personal interests, and activities that are specific to you as a person, even if they don't seem directly related to your professional goals. These individual aspects of your life can lead to unexpected opportunities.

Conclusion: To put it simply, your discoveries and successes often rely on chance events. Occasionally, when you use both courage and skill, you can take advantage of the lucky opportunities that come your way. However, skill by itself is not sufficient. Many creative and innovative ideas only come about when you dare to take risks and embrace uncertainty.

Just like a turtle, we can make progress only if we first stick our necks out to look around, explore, and take risks. We must take the chance.

Remember: Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day. So, instead of wishing you Good Luck, I will advise you to Seek Luck!


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