“Remember the three “I” s which are essential for a fruitful career in litigation, namely Intelligence, Industry and most importantly, Integrity” – Witnessing Legal Transformation with Parvez Memon, Senior Partner at MZM Legal LLP

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

Can you share with us your journey from college to becoming a Senior Partner at MZM Legal? What motivated you to pursue a career in law and specialize in white-collar crime solutions?

At the very onset, I firmly believe that my odyssey from a naïve lad residing at Nasik, Maharashtra to donning the hat of a Senior Partner at a high-end full-service law firm cannot be left at the mercy of a sole question but I shall endeavor to provide a rather satisfactory answer to the best of my capabilities.  

I took to law because I had the privilege of being in close quarters with Mr. Majeed Memon, a noted criminal lawyer, who requires no introduction. It is pertinent to mention that his court craft coupled with his zeal to be an instrument of change in the lives of his clients prompted my conscience to emulate his persona. I still harbor memories of his colloquies which inspired confidence in me to join the Bar and fight for the cause of justice. 

I graduated from Pune University in the year 1999 and immediately joined the esteemed chambers of Mr. Memon with the intent to learn the ropes and acquire expertise of sorts in criminal litigation. Criminal Law has been a constant source of my excitement and the idea of taking on the mighty State, which is equipped with resources to the brim, has motivated me to put on my robes and march to the Court with the Constitution on my sleeves. I was fortunate enough to assist Mr. Memon in some of the most high-profile, “talk of the town” matters which helped me shape my personality, both personally and professionally. 

As they say, change is the only constant, and the world of crimes has transformed with the introduction of white-collar offenses that demand a unique modus operandi along with a position of power. Our legislature responded by introducing de novo laws in anticipation of curbing the growing tendencies amongst government officials to indulge in bribery. A couple of years down the lane, criminal litigators had to embrace anti-money laundering laws as well. A peculiar facet of a white color offense is that it is not victim specific and the repercussions of such an offense can transcend geographical boundaries. The overall economy of the country takes a toll, and the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has time and again equated financial crimes with terrorism. 

MZM Legal is widely recognized for its expertise in white-collar crime solutions. How do you see the landscape of white-collar crime evolving, and what challenges and opportunities do you anticipate in the coming years?

White Collor Crimes have evolved as an independent practice area that requires niche expertise and we take pride in being the very first flag bearer as far as the said practice area is concerned since 2005. As a White-Collar Crimes practitioner, one is expected to survey a host of documents, after having conducted detailed interviews with the client. For instance, in a mandate pertaining to corporate embezzlement, we conduct an array of interviews with the top management and the employees of the subject company, undertake forensic investigation, if required, with the object to establish the modus of the erring employee. After having done our homework, we prepare a complaint to be placed before the appropriate authority in anticipation of a thorough investigation. Further, we are also expected to subject matter experts, not only in criminal law, but also in corporate laws, securities law, etc. to advance a well-rounded strategy for our clients. A White Collor Crimes practitioner should have a commercial bent of mind and should also understand the nuances of running a business to decipher irregularities in the books of his clients. 

With the advent of technology, we are on the cusp of venturing into the unknown, as White-Collar offences become more sophisticated and challenging to say the least. However, the Investigating Agencies are also expected to keep up with this change and adopt continual training methods to ensure that their officers are abreast of relevant developments. 

MZM Legal has received numerous accolades and awards. What, in your opinion, sets MZM apart in the legal industry, and how has the firm maintained its reputation as a market leader?

For starters, we are a young law firm (18 Years old) which is well endowed with the capability to adapt to the changing demands from the industry. We are always on the lookout for fresh talent that would bring in a new perspective on the table. We expect all our lawyers to contribute to the success of a mandate and your seniority at the firm is hardly of any relevance and is curtailed to our visiting cards. It should also be noted that under the dynamic leadership of our Founding and Managing Partner, Mr. Zulfiquar Memon, we have strong relationships with leading lawyers, Senior Counsels domestically and Solicitors and KCs internationally. 

We believe in nurturing and promoting home-grown talent with the intent to bolster their growth and to ensure that they transform into market leaders of tomorrow. We encourage the philosophy of hitting first, hitting hard, hitting quick and hitting often to secure the interests of our clients. 

In the realm of international exposure, what challenges do you find most intriguing when dealing with cross-border disputes, and how do you navigate the complexities involved?

A cross-bounder dispute comes with its own set of unique challenges. We are expected to read up on the law of a foreign land, that might not even be a common law country to begin with. We are also expected to liaison with foreign attorneys, working on a different time zone, to expedite judicial processes. It should also be noted that what might work in India might not work in the subject country and that is where we engage local talent to assist in traversing uncharted territory.  We are also expected to be through with the law on extradition, FCPA, UK Bribery Act, MLAT, International Conventions and treaties between the countries. There is always a cross-referencing understanding between us and our international legal counterparts. Having said so, we are on their speed dial when they face any issues in India where we have exceeded their expectations in terms of delivery. 

In your 24+ years of advocacy experience, what are some key changes or trends you’ve observed in the Indian legal system, particularly in the realms of white-collar crime and dispute resolution?

Ans: As a hardcore defense attorney, I must mention that I have observed a stark departure from general tenants of criminal law when it comes to analyzing and scrutinizing the newer breed of legislation. For instance, the rigors of twin conditions under special legislations to secure bail have reduced the grant of bail to an exception. Investigating Agencies have garnered unbridled, unfettered, and unabated powers through legislative and judicial intervention wherein personal liberty of the accused goes for a toss. 

We need to account for novel, innovative and shrewd methods being deployed at the behest of the accused to commit financial crimes. As Lawyers, we are expected to be best friends with technology, not only to understand such nefarious methods but also to explain the same to a Judge.  

As far as dispute resolution is concerned, the growing demand and acceptance of Alternative Dispute Resolution is a welcome change which prevents docket explosion and is also a much faster and cost-effective means to settle disputes outside the Court. 

As a senior partner, you’ve been involved in some of India’s most complex investigations. Could you highlight a particularly challenging case and share how you and your team navigated through it successfully?

This question takes me back to my first day in Court. I had the privilege of wearing my band and my gown for the first time, on my first day at the Bar and under Mr. Memon’s instructions, I had to appear before the Court of Justice Rajana Desai at Hon’ble High Court of Bombay to pray for an adjournment on account of personal difficulty of my senior. 

We had filed for bail for our client, who was accused of attempt to murder. Fortunately, I had read the file and the Hon’ble Judge insisted that I argue the matter. I would like to bring to the knowledge of all my young readers that those were the days where the goddess of technology was yet to bless us with smartphones, equipped with multiple messaging platforms which would have facilitated instant communication with my seniors. 

I cliched my toes and initiated my arguments. After some time, Mr. Memon walked in but to my surprise, the Hon’ble Judge instructed Mr. Memon to permit me to finish my arguments. Here I was, who was not only arguing a matter when the instructions were to seek an adjournment but had the “audacity” to continue even when my senior was in attendance. To me, this was “double jeopardy”. 

By God’s grace, the Hon’ble Judge was pleased to grant me bail and also commented that she would not have granted bail to my senior, had he argued the matter. To this day, the said memory functions as an instant confidence booster for me. 

Outside of your professional life, what are your personal interests or hobbies that you find rejuvenating, especially considering the demanding nature of your work?

Well, as a litigator, I am always on duty. The nature of assignments on my work table warrants a round the clock availability. However, I enjoy working out and tend to spend more time with my family. I also enjoy travelling international as and when my schedule permits. I have a knack for exploring new cultures and meeting new people.  

Is there a particular aspect of your journey or a recent achievement that you’re especially proud of and would like to share with our readers?

I started this journey with a meager salary of INR 5,000/- in a city like Bombay. By the grace of God, blessings of my parents and well-wishes of my seniors, today I cater to national and international clients and appear before various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India on a regular basis. 

I had the privilege of appearing along with Mr. Memon for Mr. Anna Hazare’s PIL concerning Telgi Scam before the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay wherein the Hon’ble Court was pleased to order the arrest of the then Commissioner of Police, Bombay. We also appeared in the Namdeem Saifi’s extradition case where the Government of India was directed to pay One Million Pounds to our client towards Costs while refusing the request of his extradition. Do recall my answer to Q.1 where I talked of taking on the State for context. 

As an expert in litigation and alternative dispute resolution, what advice would you give to aspiring legal professionals who aim to excel in these areas, considering the evolving landscape of the legal industry?

Rome was not built in a day. Behind every overnight success there is twenty years of hard work. Also remember the three “I” s which are essential for a fruitful career in litigation, namely Intelligence, Industry and most importantly, Integrity.  

Get in touch with Parvez Memon-

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