“Ethics and moral values are priceless. Be honest to yourself, to your work, and to the court. No legacy is as rich as honesty.” – Bharat Raichandani, Managing Partner at UBR Legal

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

Can you walk us through your journey, starting from your school days at Bombay Cambridge School to becoming a University Gold Medalist in Law from Mumbai University? How did your experiences during those formative years shape your aspirations and eventual career path in law?

I studied at Bombay Cambridge School. It was one of the finest of our times. I was always a first bencher because of my height and not due to academics. Upto class VII, I was an average student. In class VII, I failed in the History subject. My parents were upset. They never expressed it. That was the lowest point in my academic career. I promised my parents that I would never let them down. From class VIII onwards, I was amongst the top rankers throughout. I belonged to the State Board (SSC). I was a school topper in Class X. I was awarded a trophy for outstanding achievement in academics in 1996 by Shri. Udhhav Thackeray, the then President of Shiv Sena. 

My grandfather wanted me to pursue medicine as, according to him, I was academically brilliant. Destiny had other plans. I took up commerce at Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics. I participated in various debate and elocution competitions at State Level.  I was part of the organising committee of the first ever National Inter-collegiate festival “Umang”. I was a member of the Drama Committee and performed in theatre plays.

I pursued law from Mumbai University. Though we did not have formal internships in our times, I had a long term internship with Mr. Subhash Jha, Advocate from Law Global, Advocates and Mr. Anil Balani, Advocate. Under their guidance, I learnt the authentic and functional aspects of working of courts. I was actively participating in Moot court competitions. To my surprise, I even won best speaker at a few of them (though I always felt I was not even close to the other contestants). I was always eager to learn the art of advocacy. I completed the three year law course. I have been a University Gold medalist for all these years. I was awarded the Gold Medal by the then Governor of State of Maharashtra Shri. S. M. Krishna. I was even offered a scholarship for an LLM course at London University of Law. However, I felt I was not worthy of it, neither financially nor academically. I recuse myself. The same was offered to the girl who stood second. I felt she deserved it more. 

I believe these formative years are the bedrock in your career. It shapes you as a person. It instilled, in me, a mighty infrastructure of legal knowledge, critical thinking skills and commitment to ethical practice. 

As a University Gold Medalist in Law from Mumbai University, what key lessons from your academic journey do you find most valuable in your practical legal work today?

All of us must never forget that no education or training goes in vain. Every grade teaches us something new and significant. The most valuable lessons from my academic journey that I apply in my practical legal work today include Research Skills, Analytical Thinking, Effective Communication, Time Management and Ethical Awareness. 

You have been recognized with prestigious awards such as the “Young Achiever under 40” Legal Award and “TOP individual Lawyer” – Tax by Forbes Legal Power List. How do you rate this recognition?

I am humbled. These accolades serve as affirmations of my dedication, expertise and contribution to the legal profession. They are a testimony of the fact that I love this profession and everything associated with it. It is my passion and not my profession. I am in love with the courts. I, for one, honestly and firmly believe that the judiciary is the only pillar which holds our constitution together. Every judge, I must applaud them all, right from the district judiciary to the Hon’ble Supreme Court, with limited infrastructure at disposal, is doing a remarkable and phenomenal job. 

However, these awards come with supplementary responsibility. They serve as reminders of the high standards I must uphold and the expectations I must meet in my role as a legal practitioner and leader within the firm. I am keenly aware of the need to continue striving for excellence, both in terms of the quality of legal services we provide and the ethical standards we uphold. 

How do such above said accolades impact your professional journey and the responsibilities you bear as a managing partner?

As the Managing Partner of UBR Legal, I recognize that these awards not only reflect individual achievements but also the collective efforts of our entire firm. I am committed to fostering a culture of excellence, collaboration and mentorship within the firm, empowering every member of our team to reach their full potential and contribute to our shared success. I am honoured by these awards and remain dedicated to upholding the highest standards of legal practice, leadership and service to our clients and the community at large. 

You have authored articles and publications on intricate legal subjects that demonstrate a depth of understanding and a commitment to disseminating knowledge. Could you share insights into your writing process and how you select topics to address in your articles?

Certainly! Articles on intricate legal subjects require careful consideration and a structured approach. It is important to stay abreast of developments in the legal landscape and understanding the needs and interests of my target audience is paramount. One needs to conduct a thorough research of the topic which involves case law, statutory provisions, academic literature and expert opinions. 

Overall, my writing process is guided by a commitment to disseminating knowledge, fostering understanding and providing practical insights. From 2020 onwards, I have introduced a monthly newsletter “Lex Loquitur” that culls out the ratio of some important rulings from various judicial fora in the areas of Indirect tax, Direct Tax, Arbitration and Conciliation Act and Insolvency and Banking Code.

As an arbitrator appointed by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, what unique perspectives do you bring to alternative dispute resolution and how does it complement your litigation practice?

Being appointed as an Arbitrator by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court brings with it a unique set of perspectives and experiences that greatly enrich my approach to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). My background as a legal practitioner and litigator complements my role as an arbitrator, allowing me to apply my substantive legal knowledge and advocacy skills to the arbitration process to, mostly, a resolution to the dispute. 

As an arbitrator, I am committed to upholding the principles of impartiality and neutrality in resolving disputes. I believe the alternate dispute resolution mechanism is intended to bring a pragmatic approach, emphasizing efficiency, flexibility and procedural fairness. The same aids the litigating lawyer in me to advise and counsel clients approaching me for legal opinions. 

Reflecting on your time at Advaita Legal and Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan, what were the most significant learnings you garnered from those experiences and how have they influenced your leadership style at UBR Legal?

During my tenure at Advaita Legal and Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan, I had the privilege of working with some of the most distinguished legal minds in the industry. I worked with Mr. Sujit Ghosh, Senior Advocate at Advaita Legal. However, I am indebted, and shall always be, to Mr. V. Sridharan, Senior Advocate (Founding Partner of Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan) and Mr. R. Nambirajan, Senior Partner LKS. Whatever experience in life I have today, apart from the professional training, I received those valuable lessons from both of them. They taught me that a good man can only be a good lawyer. Ethics were embodied in me by them. 

The dedication towards research, attention to detail and commitment to delivering high-quality legal services were ingrained in every aspect of our work. This relentless pursuit of excellence has become a cornerstone of my leadership style at UBR Legal, where I strive to uphold the same standards of excellence in all our endeavors. 

I learned the importance of building strong client relationships based on trust, integrity and responsiveness. This client-centric approach guides my leadership at UBR Legal, where we prioritize client satisfaction and strive to exceed client expectations in every interaction. 

With your expertise in GST could you elaborate on how you navigate the intricacies of these areas to provide tailored solutions for your clients? 

GST is a new law. It is technology driven. It is system based. It is at a nascent stage. It would certainly evolve with passage of time. 

Navigating the complexities of GST requires a deep understanding of the ever-evolving legal and regulatory landscape. At UBR Legal, we approach this by combining our expertise in tax law with a thorough analysis of our clients’ specific needs and circumstances. We tailor solutions for our clients by:

  1. Staying updated on the latest developments in GST, budgetary changes, and service tax regulations through continuous research and training;
  2. We engage in detailed consultations with our clients to understand their business operations, financial structures, and tax obligations; and 
  3. We provide legal advice on strategic tax plans that minimize their tax liabilities, maximize available benefits and incentives and mitigate risks.

How do you foresee the future landscape of taxation evolving and how does UBR Legal adapt to these changes to best serve its clients’ interests?

Tax laws are here to stay. Only two things are certain: death and taxation. As long as people exist, laws would exist. As long as laws exist, litigation would exist. At UBR Legal, we adapt the changes by staying ahead of the curve through ongoing education, investment in technology and close monitoring of legislative and regulatory developments. This allows us to anticipate emerging trends and proactively adjust our strategies to best serve our clients’ interests. 

Beyond your professional endeavors, what personal hobbies or interests do you pursue and how do they contribute to your overall well-being and effectiveness as a legal practitioner?

I enjoy reading non-fiction and business oriented literature.  Political news also excites me. This habit assists me in my role as leader of a law firm and fuels my legal practice as well. Regular reading also provides mental stimulation and helps maintain focus. I cycle everyday for about 20 kms. I enjoy cycling. It is a natural form of exercise. A healthy body is an expression of a healthy mind. 

With your wealth of experience and achievements, what advice or suggestions would you offer to the upcoming generation of legal professionals who aspire to follow in your footsteps?

I am no preacher. I believe I am still learning. All of us are. We are all students of law. Learning never ends. However, I would like to share a few words of advice with the younger generation: 

First, there is no substitute for hard work. Not everyone is gifted with exceptional talent. However, with hardwork and average intelligence, lawyers can go places. 

Second, ethics and moral values are priceless. Be honest to yourself. Be honest to your work. Be honest to the court. Life would throw several challenges where your feet would tremble, that’s where the test lies. No legacy is as rich as honesty. 

Third, conduct, behaviour and demeanour in court is the first court craft a lawyer should learn. Never hoodwink the Judge. Relationship between the bar and the bench is based on mutual trust. Respect your opponent. Respect his/her arguments, even if you do not agree. He/she is fighting for the client, the way you are. 

Fourth, listen to your parents. Parents are the best teachers. They are the only true well wishers who want to see you succeed. Their blessings are very powerful. 

Fifth, be and stay humble. Humility is a hallmark of great men. It was pride that changed angels into devils. 

Get in touch with Bharat Raichandani-

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