“Preparation and patience are the key virtues for any litigation lawyer. You may not get favorable orders every day, and therefore, you should carefully weigh all factors and avoid pushing your luck.” – Arjun Mahajan, Founder and Managing Partner at Expert Legal Services

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

Reflecting on your journey, what initially drew you to pursue a career in law, and what inspired you to choose this path? Could you share some of the challenges you faced during your early days in the legal profession and how you overcame them? 

My first inspiration towards the legal profession came from my father who himself was a lawyer and practiced income-tax for a few years in Jammu and Kashmir. While my father’s initial footsteps were in law, he eventually transitioned to the family business of manufacturing high tension aluminum wires. However, he would always lovingly recount memoirs and anecdotes from his practice days and would consistently motivate me to take up law as a profession. From a very young age, I was exposed to the intricacies of the legal world through his work, experiences and stories. His influence remained a constant in my life, serving as a beacon of inspiration as I forged my own path in the legal profession. His commitment to integrity, diligence, and service instilled in me a deep respect for the law and a desire to become a lawyer.

Entering the legal profession, I encountered a range of challenges typical of any newcomer to the field. One of the most significant hurdles was navigating the transition from academic halls of college to practical application of law in Courtrooms. The theoretical knowledge gained in law school provided a solid foundation, but applying that knowledge in real-world scenarios required a different skill set altogether. Be that as it may, I guess I always had the vision and belief in myself to navigate these challenges. Even though I come from a small town, Jammu, I decided to practice in the capital of the country, which offers the best exposure to fresh law graduates. I was never attracted to practice in the comfort of my hometown. 

Another challenge was building credibility and establishing myself within the legal community. As a young lawyer, earning the trust of seniors, clients and colleagues was quintessential for success. I faced skepticism and uncertainty from some quarters, but I approached each interaction with unwavering professionalism, competence, and a commitment to excellence. Over time, through hard work and dedication, I earned a reputation for integrity and competence, gradually gaining the confidence of those around me.

Despite these challenges, the inspiration that I drew from my father’s example kept me focused and motivated. His unwavering support and blessings and belief in my abilities gave me the strength to persevere during the tough times and celebrate the victories along the way. Reflecting on my journey, I am grateful for the foundation he provided and the lessons he imparted, which continue to guide me in my career as a lawyer.

Your journey from Associate to founding your own full service law firm, i.e., Expert Legal Services is inspiring. What personal qualities or characteristics do you believe played a significant role in your career progression, and how do you nurture these traits in your team members? 

Reflecting on my journey, I believe that humility, focus, hard work, attention to detail, approachability and giving precedence to the interest of the client have been the core tenets of my practice. I cannot single out any one quality that helped in my career progression and it is always the right mix of attitude, aptitude, luck and hard work that helps you grow.

While mentoring my team members, I focus on their all-round development. I give them exposure to deal with clients independently under my supervision and to argue matters before various forums. This provides them with the much-needed exposure and also helps them in learning from their own mistakes and enables them to think on their feet. I always tell them to learn from their lows and to perform better. I am otherwise, in my peers’ view, an easy going and jovial person. This in my view helps them to perform without any stress and anxiety and to give their best in everything that they do. I also encourage open communication and constructive criticism. By fostering an environment, based on core values, we promote collaboration, respect, and continuous growth within our team.

Given your expertise in litigation, could you share a memorable anecdote that exemplifies the dynamic nature of legal advocacy and the importance of quick thinking under pressure?

I believe every day in court brings new lessons and stories. Through divine grace, I have been blessed with the opportunity to represent clients in diverse jurisdictions, providing me with first hand insight into the dynamics of these various courts across India. I believe that preparation and patience are the key virtues for any litigation lawyer. You may not get favorable orders everyday and therefore, you should carefully weigh all factors and avoid pushing your luck.  

While there are many instances in my 17 years of practice, a recent incident that vividly comes to my mind, where a case demanded urgent interim protection for our client in securing a disputed amount. The opposing party was in the process of winding up their operations in the country and therefore, swift action was imperative. We immediately approached the court  and recognizing our urgency, the court directed the party to obtain prior permission before parting with their assets in India. At the end, we had a very happy and contented client. 

Instances like these are the heartbeat of daily courtroom engagements, offering invaluable learning opportunities for legal practitioners at every level. In the realm of law, growth is perpetual, and each day brings forth new lessons to enrich our understanding.

Your clientele includes renowned fortune 500 companies spanning different industries. What are some common legal issues or trends you have observed across these sectors and how do you tailor your approach to address their specific needs? 

In my experience, serving a diverse clientele across various industries has exposed me to several  legal issues and trends. Every industry has its own set of issues and there is an overlapping legal trend as such. Consequently, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to addressing these diverse challenges. As a lawyer, it is our responsibility to tailor our approach to each unique situation, providing customized solutions that best align with the specific needs and circumstances of our clients.

One requires a comprehensive understanding of both the legal framework and the practical realities of the business world, to successfully cater the needs of any client. At Expert Legal Services, we try to achieve the best possible outcome for the client while ensuring compliance with legal requirements and ethical standards. Cultivating an approach that prioritizes innovation, collaboration and problem-solving, has helped our clients succeed in an ever-evolving business environment. 

Collaborating with esteemed legal professionals such as Senior Advocate Mr. Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, Senior Advocate Mr. Siddharth Luthra and Mr. Raian Karanjawala must have provided invaluable insights. Can you share a lesson or mentorship experience that significantly influenced your legal career?

Certainly, being associated with esteemed legal luminaries like Senior Advocate Mr. Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, Senior Advocate Mr. Siddharth Luthra and Mr. Raian Karanjawala has provided me with invaluable experiences that have profoundly shaped my legal career. These experiences have instilled in me values of perseverance, decision making, hardwork and efficiency. From understanding the minutiae to grasping the broader legal implications, I have learned that attention to detail is of paramount importance. Moreover, the significance of punctuality has also been deeply ingrained in me. 

One important lesson that I learnt from Mr. Chandhiok was that a good lawyer is one who is not impacted by the outcome of the case. One should always give their best and leave the rest to the judge. 

As someone deeply entrenched in the legal domain, how do you maintain a work-life balance amidst the demanding nature of the profession? Are there any mindfulness practice or routines that you find particularly beneficial in managing stress and staying focused?

Balancing work and life in the legal profession, especially in litigation, is indeed a constant juggle. While striving for equilibrium between professional demands and personal well-being, I’ve found that maintaining a structured approach to my workday helps manage this delicate balance. Each task is allocated a specific time slot, allowing for a more disciplined workflow.

However, the unpredictable nature of legal practice means that flexibility is key. Clients may require urgent assistance at any hour, whether it’s seeking bail or filing a habeas corpus writ. In such instances, attending to these immediate needs takes precedence, often disrupting planned schedules. Nonetheless, amidst the demanding nature of the profession, I make a conscious effort to carve out time for personal pursuits and family. Engaging in hobbies or spending quality time with loved ones serves as a crucial counterbalance to the intensity of legal work.

Your expertise in navigating anti-bribery and anti-corruption investigations is commendable. What proactive measures do you recommend to prevent such occurrences in businesses?

To overcome illegal practices, I always advice clients to follow best practices and confirm to ethical standards. It is also important to introduce a system of checks and balances for early detection of any such occurrences.  Swift Action can help the companies to minimize the impact and nip such instances in the bud. Though, one cannot guarantee against any possible leaks but in my view, this shall considerably safeguard the exposure to a significant extent.  

Beyond legal practice, you’re known for your philanthropic efforts. How do you integrate social responsibility into your professional life, and do you believe there’s a symbiotic relationship between community engagement and legal advocacy?

Compassion, generosity and large heartedness are again virtues that I have inherited from my parents. Their dedication and persistent desire to help others has left a profound impact on me. I was always taught to help the poor and the needy. This is an extremely relevant trait that I also wish to pass on to my daughters. I also believe that being an advocate comes with a profound responsibility to serve the less fortunate, especially within the context of the legal system. 

At our firm, we prioritize social responsibility and actively integrate it into our daily practice. We are committed to serving not only our well to do clients but also individuals and causes that may not have the means to afford legal representation. We are engaged in various pro bono matters, dedicating our time and expertise to assist marginalized communities, champion social justice causes, and address systemic inequalities. To give an example, we recently assisted a young boy who had been charged under POCSO and was languishing in jail and helped him in securing bail from the High Court.  I see a clear symbiotic relationship between community engagement and legal advocacy. Our involvement in the community fosters trust, builds meaningful relationships, and amplifies the voices of those who may otherwise go unheard. 

You’ve been instrumental in mentoring young lawyers throughout your career. What advice do you impart to aspiring lawyers entering the field today, and what qualities do you believe are essential for success in the legal profession? 

Certainly, mentoring young lawyers has been a rewarding aspect of my career, and I’m always eager to share insights with aspiring lawyers entering the field today. My advice to young lawyers is that success is not an overnight journey and requires considerable hard work, toil and burning the midnight oil. The key to success lies in developing expertise and being consistent and punctual in your work. Invest in your work and you’re bound to reap success. Also, it is important to realize that one should not get disheartened by adversities and remember that the castle of success is not built on victories  but on failure.   

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