Reflecting on your journey from ILS Law College, Pune, to your current position as a Founding Partner at Pransh Law Offices, what pivotal moments or experiences shaped your career in law and What inspired you to establish a legal practice in Chhattisgarh, and what unique approach does Pransh bring to the legal landscape?
My first encounter with Law was when I was an hour away from my higher secondary mid-term examinations at Symbiosis Junior College, Pune. I had received a call from my inconsolable mother, “Your father has been arrested”. I remember returning to my hometown Korba, Chhattisgarh after my exam and spending months going through the complex legal proceedings. It was then that I studied the law in detail and had a very many meaningful conversations with the lawyers. It took 4 months of hardships before he was discharged of all offences. I believe that’s when I found my true calling and joined ILS Law College in 2008.
At ILS, one had to be self-motivated in order to learn since the College did not mandatorily require anyone to partake in any activity other than attending lectures, which too, ended at 10 in the morning. This meant one had ample time to explore and identify one’s area of interest. I did a couple of internships in Corporate Law during the initial years, but it was my internship with a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court in my penultimate year that made me realise that litigation was what intrigued me. Therefore, after passing out of ILS, I applied to a few law firms and Senior Advocates in Delhi to begin my career in litigation, however, nothing materialised and I was forced to start my career from my hometown in Chhattisgarh.
In Chhattisgarh, I realised that although opportunities abounded, the learning curve was slow and Seniors did not take particular interest in teaching the nuances of the law to a young graduate. As such, at the advice of my peers, I left my practice in a year and joined Tech Mahindra in their litigation team in Hyderabad. Tech Mahindra had just taken over Satyam Computers at that time, which meant, being involved in several high stake litigations to deal with. I enjoyed my time at Tech Mahindra but since the goal was always to gain experience and come back to Chhattisgarh, I left that job within a year; pursued a Master’s Degree from the National University of Singapore; and founded Pransh Law Offices in Raipur in July 2016.
At Pransh, we believe in keeping things simple. We ensure that our drafts are prepared on time and there are no unnecessary adjournments in Court. We thoroughly research the legal issue involved before giving opinions. We are polite, we do not overcharge, and we keep our Clients up to date with the developments in their matters. We are a team of 11 lawyers who stand shoulder to shoulder in pursuance of holistic growth. We also often collaborate with other firms/lawyers to ensure the best possible outcome for our Clients.
Having pursued your LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from the National University of Singapore, how has your international education influenced your approach to legal practice in India?
Studying at NUS for a year taught me to meticulously draft a legal document after extensive research. It helped me develop analytical skills, since at NUS, we were given reading material a week prior to lectures – where we were supposed to share our thoughts on the reading material. Other than that, the substantive law that I read there has not really helped me yet in my legal practice in India. In fact, a Masters does not really help in litigation, other than the skills one develops, and it is advisable only if academics is one’s calling.
As a seasoned legal professional, you have extensive experience in high-value commercial disputes and advising clients in various industries. Can you share some insights into the challenges and rewards of practicing law in the domains of DDUGKY, Mining, Construction, and Infrastructure?
In commercial disputes, it is important to know the business as much as it is important to know the law. These disputes are mainly governed by a Contract in writing, and therefore, a thorough understanding of the Law of Contracts is extremely important.
Early on in my practice, I got the opportunity to work on several low-stake commercial matters. Every matter had its own complexity where I made mistakes and learnt from them. Over time, it gave me the confidence to take on high-value commercial disputes; since there is no scope for making mistakes in high-value transactions.
One of the many challenges we often face in these domains is to quantify the damages that arise out of breach of the Contract. Courts, after Kailash Nath v/s DDA, have held that even Liquidated Damages have to be proved. Often, Clients – at least in a jurisdiction such as Chhattisgarh – don’t maintain their books of accounts properly to enable lawyers to quantify damages such as loss of profits and profitability. As such, a favourable Award / Order in such circumstances is always rewarding.
Pransh Law Offices covers a range of practice areas. Which area do you find the most fascinating or challenging, and why?
As a firm, my colleagues practice extensively in criminal and civil law; however, I personally don’t have the temperament to practice criminal law. As such, I stick to commercial disputes only.
The fascinating part about commercial disputes is that they can be settled; there’s a quietus to the never ending litigation. I think lawyers have a substantial role to play when it comes to settlement, as they are the ones who initially inform their Clients of the merits involved in the matter. An honest opinion can help litigants make an informed choice whether to pursue the matter in Court or settle.
Your time with the Global Litigation and Arbitration Team at Tech Mahindra involved handling diverse cases. Can you share an interesting or unexpected challenge you encountered during that phase of your career?
We were dealing with a litigation against Tech Mahindra in the Courts at Los Angeles, California, filed by a disgruntled employee who was sent Onsite from India. During discovery, we found documents against the employee; however, the legal costs, publicity, and risks of going through a jury trial forced us to settle the matter. It was then as an in-house counsel that I realised that litigation is not just about the law or proving who is right/wrong. There are many variables and considerations, such as costs, bargaining power of the parties involved, and attitude of the Presiding Officer of the Court, among others, that are to be kept in mind while dealing with a dispute.
Beyond your legal work, you’ve volunteered as a teacher with Make A Difference. How has your experience in community engagement shaped your perspective, both personally and professionally?
During my time at Make A Difference, I was tasked with teaching English to a Class of 4 Juvenile Convicts in a Juvenile Home in Pune. Professionally, it was obviously a very enriching experience since it was hands-on learning on how the Juvenile Justice Act worked. Personally, it was an experience that made me culturally sensitive and socially aware. These Juveniles were some of the smartest 10-year-olds I met who were also grateful for the learning opportunity. It made me trust the reformative form of punishment.
You’ve been recognized for your contributions. Could you share a bit about any notable publications you’ve authored or awards you’ve received, and what those moments meant to you?
I have not had the honour of receiving any of the prestigious legal awards.
My last publication was a result of a sleepless night during COVID-19 graciously published by Bar & Bench on Access to Justice in the State of Chhattisgarh, which can be accessed here:
Although it has been a while since I have done any legal writing, I believe legal writing offers a unique avenue for the expression of creative arguments; which unfortunately, legal pleadings do not provide. Legal writing fosters a dynamic and evolving dialogue within the legal community. I regularly read articles published on “indianconlawphil” and “indiacorplaw”. I can only wish that my practice affords me time to write such enriching articles.
As someone deeply connected to Chhattisgarh, how do you perceive the evolving legal landscape in the state, and what role does Pransh play in contributing to that evolution?
We have been making representations to the Government urging them to establish more Commercial Courts in the State as well as set up other Tribunals like DRT, NGT, and NCLT but to no avail. More Tribunals would mean more opportunities for Lawyers as well as access to litigants. It would also ensure the development of a Commercial Bar in the State, which is non-existent as of date. There is still a long way to go!
Beyond the legal realm, what are your hobbies or interests that bring you joy and relaxation outside of work?
General interests in movies/music aside, I went for a 7-day trek to Har-ki-doon a couple of years ago, which got me hooked on trekking. I make it a point to go on a trek during Court vacations in summer. It allows me to be completely disconnected, reducing the mental strain associated with information overload.
What advice do you have for law students and aspiring lawyers who are navigating their way through legal education and considering a career in law?
a) Politeness is an understated skill to possess; b) Don’t be arrogant, it reflects in Court, and no one likes to deal with an arrogant person – neither the judge nor the client; c) Try and make the job of the Court easier – submit brief written arguments with case compilations, whenever possible; d) Be patient, the learning process is slow; e) Don’t be hard on yourself.
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