“Never stop questioning” – advice from leading lawyer

“Never stop questioning” – advice from leading lawyer

A leading figure in the world of legal academia inspired boys interested in pursuing a career in the Law when he returned to the School to give a talk to senior pupils. Old Elizabethan Ishan Kolhatkar (1989-1996) is Deputy Dean of Education Services at BPP, a top private university dedicated to Law, business and other professions.

After studying Law himself at BPP following a degree in Computer Science at Queen Mary, University of London, Mr Kolhatkar’s career began at the Bar, before he returned to academia to the Bar Professional Teaching Course (BPTC). In addition to writing content and validation documents for a course to help BPTC students bridge the gap between the BPTC and the pupillage, he teaches advocacy part-time and takes on pro-bono work.

He spoke to the boys of the importance of asking questions, of mastering detail and of seeing the “bigger picture”. “Asking questions is the best way of learning,” he said. “Be the ‘brave one’ and ask questions in a learning environment. You will gain from it and so will the room, but you’ll also be the one directing where the discussion goes.”

He explained that being able to see the bigger picture is what sets the best apart. “You might be an expert in a narrow part of the law, but you need to be able to understand how things fit together, and understand the overall process.”

He told the boys that he himself had been attracted to Law because he loved talking and he advised them to practice the art: “Seek out people with different opinions; be willing to debate in the knowledge that they might not change their minds. Keep focussed on the issues – don’t just resort to shouting.”

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Ishan was an inspiring and engaging guest. The boys undoubtedly gain from the opportunity to hear from leaders in their fields. He touched on many of the themes germane to our boys: inquisitiveness and curiosity, intelligent debate, the development of a rounded personality and a desire to contribute to the wider community.”

In addition to his teaching role, Mr Kolhatkar is an External Examiner in advanced criminal litigation for The Bar Standards Board. This work takes in a number of BPTC providers, including City Law School, Cardiff University and Manchester Metropolitan University. His role is to ensure that assessments are properly set and marked in accordance with the intended learning outcomes of the module and the BPTC as a whole. He also speaks regularly at Middle Temple students’ events, on topics such as examination technique on the BPTC. (Middle Court is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers.) In his spare time, Mr Kolhatkar writes a blog for aspiring lawyers.

Year 13 pupil Dhruv Kanabar attended the talk and said: “Mr Kolhatkar provided a detailed insight into becoming a successful and effective advocate. It was particularly useful to hear his views on looking at the Law in the context of a bigger picture and how different elements are inherently linked.”