Can you share with us how your journey in law began, and what inspired you to pursue a career in litigation and dispute resolution?
Specialization and Expertise: Commercial Litigation, Insolvency and Arbitration.
To be honest, I belong to a family of lawyers, my father and my elder brother are both lawyers, although both have worked/work in starkly different fields. One (my elder brother), being a hardcore IPR expert and the other (my father) who has seen the growth of litigation in the once colonial town of Allahabad and been actively involved in service matters before various High Courts.
As they say, you sooner or later become a victim of your surroundings. However, in my case, it worked for the best and I can turn the statement around and say, “I am a true by-product of my enriching and encouraging surroundings”!
I would often as a child accompany my father to the court or interact with his colleagues and associates at home as well as in social spheres. In my opinion (of course as lawyers we are bred in a manner to specify our opinions !) my liking and fondness towards the profession began then itself, in my formative years. Thereafter I saw my brother go to law school as well, which is when my intentions to pursue a career in law solidified and I was sure that I wanted to become a lawyer.
My decision to pursue litigation is however a result of my internships and work experiences at various law offices. The irony is that my first job offer and might I add, with a hefty pay in a big firm, was NOT in litigation but the General Corporate team. However, even then, I refused to take up that opportunity and decided to start all over with the process so long as I was given Litigation. Thus, inherently, my brain and heart were always drawn towards litigation.
With expertise in civil and commercial disputes, arbitration, intellectual property, and more, what specific aspects of law drew you in, and how did you develop such a diverse skill set over the years?
My personal favourite has always been the constitution, which is why I was driven to even appear for the Advocates-on Record examination, which I successfully cleared in the year 2022!
However, over the last couple of years, I have come to the conclusion that in the intensely dynamic environment that we live in where the laws are revolving on a constant basis, it is imperative to have at least the bare minimum knowledge of all fields of law, so as to best advise your client. Let’s say you have a client who approaches you for a simple case of corporate fraud, your advice however will start on the basic provisions of companies act in the north pole and span to filing a criminal complaint in the south pole. For the naked eye, one is a civil remedy and one is criminal, but for me, both are equally important. Thus, I feel, skill sets also develop over the years based on the kind of matters and briefs you receive or work on as well as the happenings and trivia in the legal fora, which in my view, every budding lawyer should keep pace with.
Establishing your own law firm is a significant accomplishment. What motivated you to form Aeddhaas Legal, LLP, and how has the experience of working with accomplished legal professionals influenced your approach to legal practice?
From the time I decided I wanted to pursue a career in litigation, I had my eyes on like a hawk!! on opening my own law firm and setting up my practice.
I was fortunate to have met people who I connected and bonded well with, who echoed the same feeling as mine, and thus, we all got together and created Aeddhaas.
One thing I learnt the most from all the stalwarts at the bar as well as all the accomplished legal professionals I have worked with is the golden rule of always being prepared. One thing I preach to every lawyer is that you must always read your brief to the fullest (of course over time you learn the art of swiftly navigating ) as well as prepare your draft after a detailed research to seal any/all loopholes. A good draft in my opinion is not one which runs into 100 pages but one which briefly summarizes the issue in question. At the same time, a good argument is not the one which involved showing to the court every document (in most cases pleadings exceed 10000 pages!!), but one where the advocate runs through the essentials, to touch the heart of the case.
I also learnt the benefits of team work and how to be calm and patient even in the time of an urgency to take the right decisions.
Thus, Aeddhaas for me is the final dish, of all such ingredients, hard work, team building, patience (most important virtue of a lawyer) and attentiveness!
Your experience in handling matters under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is extensive. Can you share insights into the complexities involved in such cases and the strategic considerations one needs to keep in mind?
Insolvency and Bankruptcy code is now one of the most commonly invoked statutes in our country. I have always had an affinity towards commercial laws and hence, once the code was published, I was naturally drawn towards the same.
To be frank, as it is still fairly new as a law in our country, it still keeps evolving. It’s an extensive statute with various regulations and rules made thereunder.
I would recommend that to be abreast, the best way is to read the recent judgments and monthly updates released by various legal media. Nowadays live law and bar and bench upload updates even before the judgments are released online! Life has become easy because of them. So, we must use these mediums to our benefit.
For handling matters under the IBC, strategy planning with regard to the end goal at the very initial stage, whether you are for the corporate debtor or the creditors, goes a long way.
With a focus on arbitration matters, including those related to construction contracts and commercial agreements, what role do you see arbitration playing in resolving disputes, and how has the landscape evolved during your career?
Arbitration is the need of the hour. In my opinion an arbitration clause has become as important as a confidentiality clause in any agreement/contract and there has been a paradigm shift worldwide towards arbitrating disputes viz entering into long drawn litigation battles, which in case of international commercial contracts is a nightmare, be it in the initial stages of overcoming the hurdle of jurisdiction or seeking the enforcement of a decree.
Having said this, even though the Indian Arbitration Act was enacted to be time bound, today, realistically speaking the Appellate courts are burdened with appeals and challenges to the awards passed by arbitrators, leading to a delay in execution. All in all however, the interim reliefs and ease of dispute management are unparalleled with arbitration.
Unlike courts that are often overwhelmed with a high volume of cases each day, comparatively, arbitration provides parties with more time and opportunities to present their arguments. In arbitration proceedings, parties have more flexibility in scheduling hearings and presenting evidence, which can result in a more efficient and streamlined resolution of disputes. This is because arbitration is a private and confidential process, and the parties have more control over the proceedings, including the selection of the arbitrator (who can be a specialist in case of subject matter being technical in nature). As such, arbitration can be a more attractive option for parties seeking a faster and more cost-effective resolution of their disputes.
Reflecting on your career, what would you consider as the key milestones or turning points, and how have any challenges or setbacks contributed to your growth as a legal professional?
Well I am fortunate to not come across any setbacks as yet and I hope it continues to be the same. My journey so far has been exactly the way I thought it would be. Turning point is of course setting my own practice and qualifying the Advocates-on Record examination.
The transition from working for someone else or a law firm to establishing one’s own practice presents numerous challenges beyond just completing tasks. In addition to securing new clients and meeting their expectations, there are other obstacles to overcome such as financial management, marketing, and building a reputation in the legal community. These challenges can be overwhelming, but successfully navigating them is a significant milestone for any lawyer.
As a legal professional, it is my duty to provide my clients with the most effective solution within a specific timeframe. So far, I have been doing justice to my work and that I think the actual growth one should be aiming for.
As someone with a wealth of experience, what advice would you offer to law graduates entering the field today, especially those aspiring to build a successful career in litigation and dispute resolution?
Law is a dynamic field. You could be making policies sitting in the parliament or challenging their implementation. You could be the mastermind behind a watertight contract or the person whose job is to find ways to read into the clauses. You could be the one because of whom we resonate a tick to Nike and an apple to Apple) or the one because of whom an acquisition or merger failed.
My advice is simple, whatever it is that you intend to do, be it corporate, litigation (civil or criminal), be it IPR or policy, one should begin planning their way forward the day you step foot in law school. I am sure there are days when confusion is bound to occur, however, the sooner you surpass that, you will be way ahead of many others by the time you graduate. You would get the advantage of taking up internships in the specific field and building your CV, additional courses, writing papers and attending conferences in the field of your preference. This way, by the time you graduate out of law school, you are not a ripe student looking for direction, but someone who would add value to the place which hires you.
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