“Control the controllables and do not bother about what you cannot control… Hard work will never have a substitute and patience combined with dedication will never go unrewarded.” – Wasim Beg, Independent Counsel & Former Additional Advocate General (Jammu & Kashmir)

This interview has been published by Namrata Singh and The SuperLawyer Team

Could you share with us your journey to becoming a legal professional? What inspired you to pursue a career in law, and could you recount any memorable experiences from your college days or your first job that influenced your trajectory in the legal field?

My fascination with the legal world began (as I believe was common at that time in particular) by following some of the famous criminal trials. And all these controversial or ‘in the news’ criminal matters would invariably have one name in common – Ram Jethmalani. The way he would go about handling these matters certainly piqued my interest and I would pin point that to be the reason I took my first steps in the direction of pursuing a career in Law. It has been over 15 years since I started working at Mr. Jethmalani’s office (first as a long-term intern and then a brief stint as his junior) and even today, his first words (to me) echo in my ears and have inspired and shaped my professional trajectory, he said to me – ‘Remember – you may lose a case, but never lose your conscience’.

Your legal journey is quite illustrious, marked by your tenure as the Additional Advocate General for the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Could you share some memorable experiences or cases from your time in this esteemed position that left a lasting impact on you?

It would be extremely hard to lay my finger on one case. The very feeling of representing a State and the responsibility that comes with it gives you a sense of pride. This is where I learnt to really respect and value every file that I worked on. The sheer enormity of the responsibility makes you perform to the best of your ability.

Your expertise spans across various branches of law, including constitutional law, criminal law, civil law, and more. How do you manage to maintain proficiency in such diverse areas, and do you have a particular favorite among these?

I am not a huge votary of a lawyer specializing in one particular field of law, especially at the beginning of one’s career. To be a veracious reader is non-negotiable for any good lawyer. Anyone who restricts his/her knowledge to one particular field of law is at the same time closing all the options that lead to one being a ‘complete lawyer’. All the legal luminaries that we are so enamored with have vast experience and knowledge in all fields of the law, they keep reinventing themselves – that is possible only when we keep all doors open and embrace knowledge from all over. I certainly have a leaning towards Criminal and Constitutional Law.  

Given your extensive experience in litigation, arbitration, and dispute resolution, what advice would you offer to young legal professionals aspiring to excel in these fields, especially in navigating the complexities of the legal system?

Read, read and read – the right opportunity will come. I have seen youngsters who are over anxious and lose a lot of time lamenting. What is true in general, holds true while you navigate your way through the profession – control the controllables and do not bother about what you cannot control. Hard work will never have a substitute and patience combined with dedication will never go unrewarded. The problem comes-in when we lose patience and try to ‘manufacture’ success. You ‘build’ your success story, you do not ‘manufacture’ it. Keep things simple – be sincere in what you do, work hard, be patient and you will land up on your feet.

Apart from your legal career, what are some of your personal interests or hobbies that you like to indulge in during your free time?

I do like to read and write a fair bit. Like most of us, cricket does eat up a lot of my free time. I like to follow world politics and find psychology (especially criminal psychology) to be deeply fascinating and do read-ups and follow TV shows on the subject. 

Your book on the “Dishonour of Cheques” is a significant contribution to legal literature. Could you share some key insights or lessons from the book, particularly regarding the legal intricacies surrounding dishonored cheques, and how this knowledge can benefit legal practitioners and individuals navigating such matters?

The book is essentially to help any lawyer who takes up a case relating to dishonour of cheques. The book aims to cover and guide on every aspect/legal challenge that a lawyer would have to face during a proceeding of that nature. It sums-up how Courts have looked at every possible scenario in a cheque bounce case right from the inception to the culmination of the case.

Your experience at Luthra and Luthra Law Offices India has been quite extensive. What were some of the most rewarding aspects of your role, and how did it shape your approach to legal practice?

The sheer level of trust and peace of mind while at work always stood apart. The leaders and mentors at the firm like Mr. Rajiv Luthra and Mr. Vijay Sondhi were instrumental at creating that level of trust and the atmosphere where one could always hold his/her own and never be shy to share ideas, no matter who else sat at the table. I was put in a leadership role quite early and that really helped me develop and take rapid and confident strides in the profession. 

Also, I learnt very early that a youngster can only grow well if he/she is not put in any fear of making a mistake. Once you fear making a mistake, you lose your originality and your independent thought process. Once you lose those two facets of your personality, you will do no better/bring no new perspective than your predecessors – for you will always look to play safe and only tread the path previously taken.

You’ve recently transitioned into the role of an independent counsel. Could you shed some light on this new chapter of your career and what it entails? How does it differ from your previous roles, and what opportunities and challenges do you anticipate in this capacity?

I have gotten along with some like-minded colleagues and started a Law Chamber. This is certainly a far more challenging task as compared to working with a Law Firm which comes with its own set of challenges and certain comforts. The beginning of this chapter certainly comes with lesser comforts and more challenges. These exciting challenges and our collective eagerness to scale them is what brought us together. The primary difference between this and my previous role as Partner in a Law Firm is that one comes out of the ‘comfort zone.’ While a Law Firm comes with its own legacy and you can certainly contribute to it, here you get to write your own script. The challenge is that you might have to prove yourself every day, but that is the biggest motivator as well.

You’ve been recognized with numerous awards and accolades throughout your career, including the Global Lex-Falcon Award and the Money 2.0/Law 2.0 Award. Among these honors, is there one that holds particular significance for you? If so, could you share why it means so much to you?

While I shall always remain thankful to those who considered me worthy of these awards, I have never attached much attention to these. At the end of the day – what matters is that you should be satisfied with the progress made and should be looking forward to the next day at work. As long as that is the feeling – you are a winner.

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