Lokesh Bhola, Managing Partner at Legal Icons In Conversation With SuperLawyer Shares His Side On Struggles For A First Generation Lawyer

This interview has been published by Prabhjot Singh, Priyanka Karwa and The SuperLawyer Team

Was pursuing law planned for you or it all happened in a flow? Kindly share with our readers.

It was not at all planned. After completing 10+2 in commerce stream, I opted to become a Chartered Accountant. I had even took admission and deposited fee for that. During that time, five year course from I.P. University, Delhi was introduced and  my father influenced me take a plunge in the field of law. I had appeared in the common entrance test conducted by the University and was fortune to get admission in limited ‘free seat’ on basis of merits.

Initially it was more of subjective learning rather than practical and took some time to get myself adjusted in that flow. Afterwards, I had started developing my interest and scored well thorough out all semesters. Never thought that I would become first-generation lawyer in my family, however destiny has chosen so for me.

What do you think, which specific advice has helped you come thus far in law? What is that one motivation that keeps you going in life?

As a first-generation lawyer, the journey has been quite tough yet exciting. Working as the junior most associate in the Law Firm to heading a boutique Law Firm has been an overwhelming and enriching experience.

The hurdles on the path of this journey, especially as a litigation lawyer, are tough to handle. Consistency and Dedication are two stepping stones for almost every success.

Do not expect quick results especially while practicing as litigation lawyer. Change the mindset from working as employee to working like a professional. Own responsibility for every step taken by you while working on a matter. Success does not come without failures. We cannot have favourable results the way we thought every time, however we should be capable enough to be responsible for those results.

Initially many colleagues even left the profession due to various reasons like low income, great hard work with slow or no results and that had sometimes demotivated me to choose this profession, but like a pillar of strength and motivation my family stood beside me and here I am today, enthusiastically climbing the ladder with more than seventeen years of experience and having Law Firm of my own. 

Could you brief a case you were led on that substantially broadened your knowledge of the legal field?

In last seventeen years, I had the privilege to lead as well as assist my senior colleagues in various corporate commercial matters across different Courts and Tribunals. 

I fairly remember a matter dealt by me in my previous law firm, where we used to brief Late Mr. P.P. Rao, Senior Advocate in a constitutional matter being tussle between State Government and Union Government to enact law to control and supervise State Universities in the State of Himachal Pradesh.

We used to take him for hearings before High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla. In my entire career, I have not come across any other Senior Advocate like Mr. Rao, who was so thorough and clear in his understanding on the constitutional matters.

He used to throw case law citation as well as its relevant paras to us while briefing him. That matter has surely broadened my concepts on educational and constitutional matters. I think it was his hard work and good wishes that we won that matter on his birthday.

As an empanelled Arbitrator with prestigious Delhi International Arbitration Centre at High Court of Delhi, I have gained experience of deciding matters judiciously which has helped me in proving reasoned and more apt interpretation of legal issues.

Lokesh, you have over a decade of experience in legal, how do you see the legal industry coming up with new concepts and creating exciting opportunities?

India is a large country and the biggest democracy in the world. We have by far the longest constitution in the world, so the laws are accordingly quite vast. Similarly, there are host of Cases pertaining to Supreme Court and High Courts. Both these are referred regularly in the current set of cases and used immensely in the courts and by the lawyers. All this can happen only through digitization and having effective analytical tools which can help a Lawyer to quote relevant cases in the court and the corresponding Legislations and Provisions.

I can see a lawyer walking into the court with a simple Tab and referring to relevant Legislations/Cases and the Judge verifying the same through his online terminal linked to the Master Registry. No more attachments of papers/cases/book portions etc. It makes the system faster, accurate and efficient.

There is a huge role for Digital Transformation to play in the Legal Industry. We are far too behind in this area compared to our western counterparts. Undoubtedly, thanks to corona period, we have come a long way in transforming ourselves from a paper-based judicial system to a digital system. However, lot more is required to do in this field to help in surviving in faster pace.

You have been there in some really big deals, how would you educate our readers about the risks attached to the same?

Every journey has up and down graph like an ECG report. It is always fascinating to deal big ticket matters, however the same comes with many fold of challenges and expectations from client and senior colleagues. It’s true that our hard work should not depend upon the quantum of the matter dealt by us, however high stake matters involves greater effort and strategy to deal the same.

Don’t hesitate to take opinions from expert or senior colleagues in a ticklish matter. A direction is must to achieve a goal. In a litigation, experience has bigger role than the academics. One should always adapt to learn not only by reading and research, but learning from experience of others especially your senior colleagues.

A small court crafting skill can save you from multi-fold hurdles and that comes from court experience. A young lawyer should sit and watch proceedings in court rather than roaming outside courtroom waiting for his turn to come. A lawyer must not enter courtroom without reading his brief as you never know what may come from bench as a query.

What strategies do you use to ensure that your clients receive the best possible?

My preparation for a matter starts from first meeting with the client. We should make goal oriented strategy in a matter that too keeping in mind the financial implications on the client. Now a days, thanks to multiple courts and forums, we have various alternatives available to churn out results in a given matter in a most possible and economical manner. My endeavour is to pull our best suitable remedy out of bunch of options available for a given client considering his financial capabilities and timelines to get desired results.

At the same time, a lot depends upon the zeal and hunger of client to get results in a given time frame. Many clients opt not to disclose correct and complete facts on the threshold which leads to multiple hurdles and greater time to achieve the desired goal.

Workplace harassment also contributes to mental health issues that last forever, what are your views on the same? 

Work-life balance is very important to ensure a long term efficiency in work and a satisfaction in your personal life. Workplace stress can be managed by fixing short term goals and taking all possible effort to achieve the same.

Being a Partner, I try spend sometime with my team members to interact and discuss work and the general life related aspects. However, one needs to prioritise the work and maintain a discipline during the working hours.

I am a strong supporter of not carrying the work related stress to home and spend my away time playing with my daughters as well as working out. It is equally important to take care of your health and therefore, I have made it a routine not to carry work at home except in dire emergency.

Lastly, any 5 best pieces of advice for our readers?

Legal field requires continuous study and keeping yourself updated of the latest developments. So, it is very important to make an early habit of reading latest judgments as well as precedents. Young lawyers should also visit Courts and hear established legal practitioners argue the cases in Court.

There are no substitutes for hard work in law. I’ll quote J.R.R Tolkien, when he said “Shortcuts make long delays.” There are 5 P’s success formula  – Passion, Patience, Punctuality, Perfection and Politeness.

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