Law Firm Founders

“In law, Precision is power. Precision in understanding the law, articulating arguments, and drafting documents defines the quality of a lawyer. Immersing oneself in the field and staying ahead is key for aspiring legal professionals.” – Prachi Dave, Managing Partner of Dhaval Vussonji & Associates

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

Can you take us on a journey from your college days to your current position as the Managing Partner at Dhaval Vussonji & Associates? What were the pivotal moments or experiences that shaped your professional trajectory?

Embarking on my legal career, I pivoted from a potential future in medicine to law at Government Law College, devoid of campus life but rich in opportunities. My journey began with an internship at Kanga & Co., where I was drawn to the practical aspects of law, a contrast to academic theories. This internship transitioned into a clerkship, offering me invaluable mentorship from firm partners. My stint at the National Stock Exchange revealed that my true calling wasn’t in-house but in the legal field.

Joining Dhaval Vussonji & Associates during its burgeoning phase was a pivotal moment in my career. It was a leap into the unknown, a challenge I embraced wholeheartedly. This decision not only allowed me to grow professionally but also to contribute significantly to the firm’s expansion and success.

Your career spans various sectors, from banking and finance to real estate and capital markets. What initially drew you to such a diverse legal landscape, and how do you find balance in managing these different areas of expertise?

My foray into the diverse legal landscape of banking, finance, real estate, and capital markets was not a deliberate choice as it was a natural progression shaped by curiosity, client trust, and the interconnectedness of these sectors.

Initially, my involvement in one practice area organically led to opportunities in adjoining fields. Clients, satisfied with our work in a specific domain, entrusted us with their legal needs in related areas. This expansion was less about a strategic plan and more about the evolution of client relationships and the recognition of our firm’s expertise.

My fascination with challenges and a constant thirst for knowledge have been the driving forces in my journey through these sectors. Understanding securities markets from a regulator’s perspective, and then applying that insight as an advisor, provided a unique vantage point. The legal nuances of finance and securities, once alien, gradually became my comfort zone, thanks to the dynamic environment and expertise of my colleagues.

When I transitioned into real estate law, I didn’t just see it as a new field to conquer.  Instead, I viewed it through the lens of my previous experience, blending the knowledge of real estate dynamics with the intricacies of funding and financial regulations. This approach allowed me to appreciate the laws not just as rules to be followed but as frameworks designed to protect certain values and objectives.

This holistic understanding has been crucial in managing these different areas of expertise.  By recognizing the interplay between various sectors, I’ve been able to adopt a unique approach to legislation and practice. It is about seeing the big picture – how a decision in capital markets affects real estate development, or how financial regulations influence banking operations.

Congratulations on Dhaval Vussonji & Associates being recognized as a “Recommended Firm – 2023” by ILFR (International Financial Law Review). What does this prestigious recognition mean for the firm, and how does it reflect the team’s dedication and expertise in the financial and corporate legal landscape?

Thank you. IFLR has been renowned for its discerning analysis and recognition of legal expertise in the financial realm and sets a high benchmark for law firms around the globe.  Being acknowledged by such a prestigious platform is not just an honour; it’s a confirmation of our firm’s standing in the legal community. This accolade is especially meaningful to me, as a professional deeply embedded in the financial law sector. It further intensifies the significance of our work and the impact we have made in this field.

For Dhaval Vussonji & Associates, this recognition is a reflection of the caliber of matters we handle and the substantial volumes of each case we undertake. It validates the depth of our expertise, our strategic approach to complex legal challenges, and our unwavering commitment to our clients. It is an acknowledgement of the collective effort and dedication of our entire team, whose expertise and hard work have been instrumental in achieving this level of recognition.

In addition to your legal pursuits, you’ve been involved in advising Shapoorji Pallonji on power projects in Africa. What unique challenges and opportunities did this present, and how did you navigate them?

Advising Shapoorji Pallonji on power projects in Africa presented a unique set of challenges and opportunities, reflective of the continent’s dynamic and evolving energy sector.

One of the primary challenges in African power projects is dealing with regulatory complexities. Each country has its distinct set of laws and regulations governing the energy sector, which often includes navigating bureaucratic hurdles and ensuring compliance with local and international standards. To address this, our approach involved thorough research and collaboration with local experts to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory landscape.

Another significant challenge is the infrastructure deficit. Many African countries are in the process of developing their power infrastructure, which can lead to logistical challenges in project execution. Our strategy here was to work closely with local stakeholders,

including government bodies, to understand and anticipate infrastructural limitations, and devise practical solutions.

Financing is another critical aspect. The African power sector, particularly in renewable energy, requires substantial investment. We focused on creating sustainable financial models, identifying potential investors, and facilitating partnerships that align with the project’s financial needs and objectives.

Additionally, the socio-economic context in Africa cannot be overlooked. It’s crucial to ensure that power projects contribute positively to local communities. Our involvement extended to ensuring that projects were not only commercially viable but also socially responsible, aligning with local needs and contributing to community development. 

The opportunity to work on these projects was not only professionally enriching but also personally rewarding.

Your expertise extends to insolvency resolution, including notable cases like Binani Cements. Can you share a challenging experience from this area of practice and how it shaped your professional growth?

The Binani Cement insolvency case was indeed a landmark in my career. It was riddled with complexities, not just in the sheer volume of the debt involved but also in the multifaceted legal challenges that came with it. Juggling the interests of various stakeholders and adhering to the stringent timelines of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was a test of endurance and skill. This case honed my abilities to navigate through a high-pressure environment and underscored the importance of innovative legal solutions.  It was a vivid reminder that the law is not just about theories from textbooks; it is a living, breathing entity that often requires a blend of strategic acumen and legal expertise.

Congratulations on being named one of ALB Asia’s “40 Under 40” in 2022! How does this recognition impact your approach to leadership and the legal projects you undertake?

Being named in ALB Asia’s “40 Under 40” is an honour that extends beyond personal recognition; it signifies a broader commitment to leadership and excellence in the legal field. This recognition has profoundly impacted my approach to leadership and the management of legal projects within our firm.

One of my core beliefs is that a true leader’s role is to cultivate new leaders. This accolade has reinforced that belief and encouraged me to continue focusing on mentoring and nurturing the talent within our firm. I firmly believe that by staying focused and striving for excellence, rewards and recognition will naturally follow. It is about setting a standard, leading by example, and inspiring others to reach their full potential.

The recognition as one of Asia’s “40 Under 40” has instilled in me a greater sense of responsibility. It is a reminder that our actions and decisions can influence the trajectory of our firm and the careers of those we mentor. This has led to a more conscious approach towards leadership – one that values the development of individual capabilities and fosters a culture where everyone is encouraged to contribute their best.

Your specializations include Banking and Finance, Capital Markets, Mergers and Acquisitions, and more. Is there a specific area that you find most intriguing or challenging?

In the panorama of my legal practice, the dynamism of Capital Markets stands out. It is an arena that is both stimulating and demanding, given its constant state of flux and the intricate regulations that govern it. The thrill lies in the challenge – to demystify complex financial instruments, untangle the web of regulatory compliance, and craft strategies that not only safeguard but also advance our client’s interests.

You’ve witnessed significant changes in the legal landscape over the years. How do you see the evolution of the legal industry, especially in areas like real estate, banking, and capital markets?

The legal sector, particularly in banking, real estate, and capital markets, has seen significant shifts driven by recent regulatory changes. The real estate sector has been transformed by the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), which brought in a new era of transparency and accountability. In banking, recent amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) stringent norms on non-performing assets (NPAs) have reshaped the legal framework, focusing on stronger compliance and risk management. In capital markets, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been instrumental in implementing regulations to bolster investor protection and market integrity, including enhanced disclosure requirements and corporate governance standards. These developments have required legal professionals to adapt rapidly, specializing in the nuances of each sector to provide effective legal solutions.

As someone deeply involved in insolvency matters, what changes or improvements would you like to see in the current legal framework to make insolvency resolution processes more effective and efficient?

In India’s insolvency sphere, key enhancements are needed to boost the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code’s (IBC) efficacy. This includes enforcing stricter adherence to resolution timelines to avoid delays, clarifying the hierarchy of creditors’ claims to reduce litigation, and augmenting the infrastructure and manpower of the NCLT and NCLAT to handle cases more efficiently. Additionally, incorporating cross-border insolvency norms and

streamlining the resolution plan approval process would further enhance the system’s effectiveness. Addressing these aspects would lead to more efficient insolvency resolutions, benefiting creditors and the economy at large.

When you’re not in the midst of legal matters, how do you unwind and recharge? Any hobbies or activities that you turn to for relaxation?

When stepping away from legal duties, I recharge by spending quality time with my family and indulging in reading, which provides a peaceful escape. My commitment to social work grounds me, reminding me of the broader societal impact of our actions. Additionally, as an avid sportswoman, I engage in health and wellness activities within the community, which rejuvenates me and maintains my balanced lifestyle. These pursuits offer both relaxation and a sense of fulfillment beyond my professional life.

In your journey as a legal professional, what is one piece of advice you received early in your career that has stayed with you and proven invaluable? Additionally, what advice would you like to give to the upcoming generation who wants to excel in this legal field?

Early in my career, I was told, “In law, precision is power.” This has been the cornerstone of my practice. Precision in understanding the law, articulating arguments, and drafting documents defines the quality of a lawyer. To those aspiring to make their mark, I would say, immerse yourself in the field, stay abreast of the changes, and always think a few steps ahead. Law is as much about anticipation as it is about knowledge.

Get in touch with Prachi Dave-

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