To start at the beginning, how did you decide upon pursuing law? How would you describe your career up to this point with an adjective?
I belong to a small town, Agra in Uttar Pradesh, where we had limited options post matriculation. I wasn’t too sure of how to go about choosing a field for myself. I would often speak with a lot of people to understand the prospects that I have which can be explored. Coming from a city, where in the name of law chambers, lawyers sat on a single desk under an umbrella, Law seemed like an extremely challenging and far-fetched option for me. However, I was fortunate enough to have somebody in my family pursuing Law at that moment.
My elder brother who is also a lawyer practising in Delhi made me realise the potential of the profession and encouraged me to enlarge my ambit and understand that this profession is far greater than what we saw growing up in our city. This marked the beginning of my journey with law. I spoke with some Senior Advocates who apprised me about national law universities and how I can prepare myself for the Common Law Entrance Test. I, fortunately, got through one of the National Law Colleges and as one says “Rest is History”!
If I choose one word to describe my career till now it will be ‘ENRICHING’.
You pursued your LLM and Master’s degree from French Universities. How has your career as a litigant benefitted from the degrees? What would your advice be for law graduates aiming at pursuing an LLM abroad?
Pursuing a master’s from a foreign university has several benefits attached to it. It makes you a very fine writer (thanks to the innumerable assignments!). However, on a serious note, the education system in foreign universities in most nations is such that they teach you the law not just theoretically but also practically. I feel you catch the real essence of law when you start living it. My Professors there were also practitioners of law( like of-counsel of a firm or an international organisation) and that made a lot of difference for there was a constant exchange of ideas.
There are other benefits too like, one gets to learn different languages (I learnt French and German), you make friends with people of various nationalities and the most important it makes you self aware when you start managing yourself and there is nobody to help you with any household chores. Foreign universities have a very different process of teaching which is nurturing for the students. This helped me secure jobs right after college in foreign firms in Germany and China. Even though my area of practice is very different from the subject I pursued in my master’s, the main aim of a foreign LLM and masters is to open yourself to the world.
I would highly recommend law graduates to pursue LLM from abroad. Some advice I would like to give the aspirants. Aspirants should fill up applications way before February for September intake. Other advice will be to choose a university which is the top most in the subject you are choosing. Do not limit yourself to making 4 -5 applications, I personally made 12 applications, got selected in 9 of them and took the best available option.
Choose a university that should not burn a hole in your parent’s pocket or burden yourself with excessive student loans. The most important advice is that do not forget to be kind and cordial to other people, bear in mind that you are representative of India and our country’s reputation lies on your shoulder, and assume that responsibility when you speak with other foreign nationals. Lastly, do not forget to interact with your professors and take their help in securing internships and recommendations.
As a litigant, how was your journey in establishing your practice? What advice can you give to budding lawyers in terms of choosing specialisation and internships for them to help their litigation career ahead?
Establishing a litigation practice for a first-generation lawyer is extremely tough and a lot of resilience is required. When I look back on my journey from working as an Associate for a salary of Rs. 10,000/- per month only and to now have a team of more than 10 people with a minimum pay scale of Rs. 25,000/-. I always think and look back at that young fresher who had only aspired but never imagined that a day would come like this so soon.
As it said, Rome was not built in a day. This journey of 8 years has been no less than a roller coaster with many ups & downs, there have been several instances when I was left feeling demotivated but I never stopped putting in my 100%. The trick is to never look back and learn from your mistakes, do not let them hold you back. There is no shortcut to success and I still have a long way to go but today I am filled with gratitude for all that I have received.
For young students wanting to litigate in future, I urge them to read the Bare Acts of the subjects thoroughly, also they should intern with a litigating firm or a trial lawyer to get hold of the procedures. It is that simple, you have to fall in love with law and profession, and breathe it with every single breath of yours. For young professionals my advice will be to not leave the firm they are working for a minimum of 5 years even if the salary is marginal, the idea is to learn and gain experience. The sole of this profession is experience and I do not think I can stress that anymore. Lastly, be obedient to the Court and maintain professional ethics.
As a first-generation lawyer, you have not just extensively practised law, but have also successfully established your firm, ANG Partners- Advocates and Solicitors. What factors and skills do you believe helped you establish your own practice?
I feel that a person should possess certain qualities of being a leader. There are various factors that have contributed to my journey of becoming who I am today. First, my parents encouraged me to start my own firm. I had unhinged support from my family. I still remember when I first started my office, I was the only one who was there. I was the office boy, I was the Clerk, I was the Associate, I was the Lawyer, and I was my Firm.
That undying spirit to achieve something made me go. I didn’t have money to pay my first office boy. I worked hard just to pay his salary. So I had to put other people’s needs in front of mine. This was the driving factor, my fire to fulfil the needs of the people working for me who are dependent upon me.
Today there are more than 10 people whose homes are totally dependent upon me. The most notable attribute a person should have is that of a team player. I believe in taking the whole team forward rather than acclaiming all the success individually. I feel that I have been very lucky to have a team of such hard-working lawyers, who are at par with my pace and they keep motivating and supporting me to achieve better in my profession.
You hold the expertise of practice in Real Estate Laws and have particularly worked for the Homebuyers in helping them overcome the harassment faced by the builders and the banks. Please tell us more about this.
We are one of the top law firms in India in the Real Estate Sector, handling homebuyers’ disputes. We have been regularly appearing in Supreme Court, High Courts, Appellate Tribunals, Real Estate Authorities, and Consumer Forums to safeguard the rights of the beleaguered home buyers. We are constantly being appreciated in news and print media for the work we do for estranged homebuyers. We have managed to secure several judgments and orders of the Court in our favour and have always come forward to help and protect the interest of the homebuyers.
We are well appreciated by the community for the work we have done for the welfare of distressed homebuyers. We have helped Senior Citizens, and Army Personnel, who have put in their life savings to own a home. We have saved the homebuyers who have fallen into the loan trap laid by the Banks in collusion with the Builders. We have helped many homebuyers from criminal and debt recovery proceedings initiated by the Banks by giving false assurances and making illegal loan agreements. We have also delivered several lectures and webinars on these issues in order to help and make aware of the common man.
In practising at various Tribunals, Forums and Courts, including the Supreme Court of India, how did you develop court mannerisms and practice etiquettes? Do you believe Mock Trials and Moot Courts help in this regard?
Definitely yes! Moot Courts/ Trials are the first steps in your litigation career. However, the court mannerism and etiquettes are also learnt by observing Senior Counsels in court. You can read books but having keen observation skills and being inside the courtroom will work the best for you. So much so that there is a separate examination on Ethics in AOR Examination and if one wishes to read and learn about ethics there is a special note prepared by Ld. ASG Mr R. Venkataramani on the Supreme Court’s Website.
How did working as a trainee associate in Germany and later in Shanghai, China, help you in your career forward? Should aspiring lawyers gain experience in practising in foreign jurisdictions?
Working as a trainee in Lupp and Partners, Germany in their Mergers and Acquisitions team was an enriching experience for me. I was amazed to see their work culture. I saw how people work with so much compassion and the method of work is stupendous, even the minutest details like commas and full stops were checked about 7 times before finalising a draft. The work culture is stress-free, once I was scolded by my top boss for being in the office till 5:00 PM on a Friday! The learning I took from there is to take care of the colleagues who are working for you and they will take care of you.
When I was working in China I was working with the top arbitrator of China, Mr Tony Zhang. The knowledge I gained from there was very useful for my Alternate Dispute Resolution cases in India as our country is majorly a litigating nation. I always advise my client to go for alternate dispute resolution methods for fast redressal for I realised the importance of it.
You have also won the BW Legal World 30 under 30 Lawyers of India. Achieving such heights so early in your career, what is next in store for you?
I believe this is just the beginning and the good thing about this profession is that there is no finishing line/end. I will keep trying to grow bigger and achieve more in this profession. Although, I do have my eyes on the Forbes top 100 Litigators of India for now!
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