“Every lawyer has their own trajectory, there is no competition. My only contact is God, the rest everyone I meet in the journey is a blessing.” – Esha Mazumdar, Advocate on Record at the Supreme Court of India & Founder of Curare Legal

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

As a first-generation lawyer, could you walk us through your journey? What was your motivation or inspiration for pursuing a career in law? Additionally, can you share some insights about your childhood and any experiences that shaped your path? What is something unique about you that our readers should know?  

I think not only for a first-generation lawyer but for every lawyer the journey is very unique in itself. Every lawyer has their own trajectory, there is no competition. The only difference for a first-generation lawyer is the initial years where you build your reputation, where you make a conscious choice regarding your future. The profession no doubt demands a lot of sacrifice especially if you are practising independently. For me personally, discipline and hard work are the most important things. Lot of people advice me that I should build my contacts, my only answer to them is, my only contact is God, rest everyone I meet in the journey is a blessing.

My father in fact wanted me to become a lawyer, it was he who always encouraged me to start an independent practise. He always taught me that honesty and hard work never go in vain.

My childhood has played the most important role in shaping my path. I belong to a family of Army and Air Force Officers. The discipline that has been imbibed in me because of my background has stayed with me and discipline in any field takes you a long way. My mother who has been a homemaker has always stressed on the importance of being financially independent.

Unique I’m not sure but I have come to experience, if I take up a task I do not leave it mid way, I take it to it’s logical conclusion.

You have acquired your LL.M. in International Business and Commercial Law from the University of Manchester, but as we know, dispute resolution has always been your first love. How has this international LL.M. helped shape your legal perspective and approach to dispute resolution?  

LL.M. from Manchester has given me immense exposure and on a lighter note, I can proudly say I have friends (who are lawyers) all around the world. That apart, the understanding of different cultures, the idea of seeing things through a wider lens definitely helps in litigation. Litigation is not just about the one case that you are doing, there can be various perspectives, you just have to see which one is best suited for your client.

Having studied and worked in the UK, what international legal trends do you think could be beneficially adopted in the Indian legal system and What changes or improvements would you like to see in legal education to better prepare future lawyers for the challenges of the profession?

Legal education should be more practical, industry oriented and should be focussed more on creating independent thinking.

How do you balance the varied demands of independent practice, being a founder of Curare Legal, and your past role as a Government Counsel? Please share some insights on challenges you faced since you started your firm.

Well I was a Govt. Counsel for about 4 years, I used to be quite overburdened with Govt. work, not leaving me with much time for private matters. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed my work as a Govt. counsel also, I got an opportunity to work with some of the brightest officers. It gave me an opportunity to look at things from a very different perspective. I think every independent practitioner at some point should work on some Government panel. Not to mention I was amazed to see the knowledge that the Section officers or dealing hand had about the matter. It was an amazing experience.

Independent practise only demands one thing, that is consistency. Consistency is key, be it hard work, be it not giving up after you have had a rough day in Court. The right balance between being open to ideas from your clients and filter when you present your case in Courts.

The biggest challenge of course was to break even when I started the firm,  and then increase revenue enough to expand the infrastructure and to be able to pay a respectable amount to Associates, paralegals, etc. Even now in fact every month is not the same, so revenue can be a struggle in some months.

You were the counsel in a landmark case under the new Land Acquisition Act decided by the Delhi High Court. Can you discuss the significance of this case and its impact on land acquisition laws?  

Yes, that was a case under Section 24(2) of the New Land Act, 2013. Much water has flown since then and the recent Constitution Bench Judgment in Indore Development Authority vs. Manohar Lal & Ors. has brought about some changes in so far as the interpretation of Section 24(2) is concerned. But yes, the impact is that the acquisition under the current regime is much more difficult as it requires social impact assessment etc and even the compensation is much higher that what was provided under the 1894 Act, which was more exploitative in nature.

What were some of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your tenure as Additional Standing Counsel for the Government of Delhi?

Challenging of course the entire work of a Govt. counsel is very challenging. I was handling quite a few matters every day, so waking up at 4 AM in the morning every day, going through the brief thoroughly because as Govt. counsel we mostly defend the interest of the public at large, secondly there’s always a sense of urgency in private clients regarding hearing of their matters, so it’s difficult to get an adjournment as a Govt. counsel.

Rewarding aspect, of course the grind that I went through has sharpened me to prepare more than 2 briefs for lengthy arguments in about an hour or so. Also I always measure success by the people that we win and my reward is the number of officers and various staff of Departments who are still in touch with me.

After serving as government counsel, what motivated you to return to private practice in 2021, and how has the transition been for you?   

So honestly, as a Govt. counsel I was doing only one kind of matters. Since time was still on my side, I wanted to explore a little more and do more variety. As fate had it, I was also blessed with a daughter after I left the panel and I could effectively manage both sides i.e., taking care of my daughter and the independent matters.

Your first independent matter was a PIL for increasing compensation for rail accident victims. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn from this experience? Being your first case, what was your overall experience, and how did it shape your approach to future cases?

I have done two PILs, one for increasing compensation for rail accident victims and one for free sanitary pads and education on menstrual hygiene to Govt. School girls, both are very close to my heart. There were no challenges as such but PIL requires a lot of research, so doing all of it at a time when we did not have associates or interns to help with, one of the initial cases being a PIL would mean that we were paying even our office rent from our pocket but as it is said do good and good will come to you, I guess that is what happened with us. The 1996 Rules were amended, the compensation amount payable to rail accident victims was doubled.

So far as the overall experience is concerned, I think Delhi High Court has this very unique feature of being extremely welcoming towards younger counsels. The warmth, the seriousness with which the Judges take your arguments if you are well prepared, this really helps in boosting your morale. I remember once on the Original Side, we were young, the brief had just come a day before and we were not prepared, in fact we had just gone to seek an adjournment since certain documents were yet to come. So the Judge started recording whatever we would say in the Order sheet including that we are not prepared to argue and all I said was we are very young in the profession, Lordship may kindly remove the observations, just saying that was enough and the observations were removed. So we have the most compassionate and wonderful Judges here, it’s just about having the tact and being honest to yourself and to the Court.

Given your demanding career, how do you manage work-life balance, and what tips would you offer to other legal professionals?

Ok I get asked this question a lot and I will not lie here, I have the most wonderful husband who is also a lawyer. He encouraged me to give the Advocate on record exam after we were blessed with a daughter and I qualified it in the first attempt. I think if you are married, having a supportive life partner is a real plus. 

Secondly, online hearing which is constantly being encouraged by the current CJI, is of great help to women mostly. 

Tip: I can only say keep the mental state right, as long as you are mentally fine you will sail through one additional hobby, it can be sports, photography, music, movies anything at least once a week, because the profession is very demanding, you cannot limit it to 9-5. It affects you mentally even before you know, so maintain your sanity.

For young lawyers contemplating a specialization in their legal careers, what factors should they consider, and how did you decide on your focus areas?  Please share some tips for them to excel in their field.

For younger lawyers, I think firstly please do not focus only on money. You have to know your work first, money will not be a problem thereafter.

Secondly, one should not just stick to one kind of practise initially, i.e., just criminal or only civil laws. There is a lot of scope and opportunities, give yourself some time. Try different areas before you finally know what you like.

My focus areas actually just happened to me by the kind of matters that came to me and I am still open to trying different areas. A lawyer never stops learning.

Lastly for the younger lawyers, just have faith in the process, go through the grind, you will get there gradually.

Get in touch with Esha Mazumdar-

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top