Can you share with us the journey that led you to pursue a career in law, and what specific experiences or influences played a role in your decision to become a lawyer?
I am a first-generation lawyer and hail from Mount Abu, the only hill station in the state of Rajasthan. While my childhood was spent playing soccer and exploring the wilderness of my town, little did I know I would be becoming a lawyer. Well, I can say the first thought ever came to my mind to become a lawyer was in 8th grade when my father, a businessman, once bought the constitutional book for his simple curiosity of reading it. No, he never wanted to become a lawyer, nor did he understand the legal text, but his choice to bring that book changed my life forever. Of course, television plays an important role in seeing court functions and, most importantly, seeing a duty on a lawyer to fight for someone he or she didn’t know. Another reason that motivated me to become a lawyer was my connection with the wilderness. When you’re close to nature, it is very obvious that you would be very philosophical, and I firmly believe that those encounters with nature were another quite solid reason for me to dream of becoming a lawyer. I was very curious, and the next thing I did was wonder how I could achieve this dream of becoming a lawyer. There was none who could guide me, but I also believe a path searched and chosen by oneself is the one where you do not get lost. I succeeded and joined a law college in Jodhpur.
Establishing a law firm at the age of 26 is quite remarkable. What motivated you to take on such a significant endeavor at such a young age, and what were some of the challenges you faced in building your own legal practice?
When you have clarity of thought and are able to take risks in life, things become achievable. Though it does not guarantee success, it warranties you, assures you to keep going, and when you feel down, it gives you hope to continue. I never followed the crowd collecting the internship certificates and academic accolades. I knew that law books are the same for everyone, and a degree from Harvard or Oxford is no guarantee of success in life. Though worthy degrees can give you placement, they can never give you a sense of satisfaction, especially when your dream is only to become a lawyer who practices law in the real sense and nothing else. Therefore, during my law school for the entire five years of my law, I joined a permanent internship with Rtd Chief Justice Rajesh Balia and majorly interned with Sr. Advocate Vikas Balia in Jodhpur. Since Jodhpur was not my hometown, I still had a choice to choose my life wisely. Bombay was next, a city that changed my life. It not only changed my life but also gave me a platform to show my merit. Immediately, shifting to Mumbai in the month of June 2017 with no background and only after a year of experience was a tough choice, which I never regretted. At the beginning, I faced very common issues like shelter, food, and survival, but God rewarded me with the risk. I was standing tall with limited earnings from individual briefs. I started my law firm, M/s Hitesh Soni & Associates, on November 27th, 2017, with no surety of covering the expenses in the future. I was always confident that if I had merit, I could do it every time. I never looked back then.
Congratulations on receiving the ‘Mahatma Gandhi Lifetime Achievement Award’ at such a young age. How did it feel to be recognized with such a prestigious honor, and how do you believe your work contributed to earning this lifetime achievement award?
Thank you. At first, it sounded like a dream and more of a fear with the title, as it is a precept to give to someone who wishes or thinks that he or she is going to retire from his or her profession, but after interaction with the award presenter, Smt. Meira Kumar, former Speaker of Lok Sabha, and noted personalities like Shri Lal Thanhawla, former Chief Minister of Mizoram, my perception proved wrong. I received the award at the age of 31, when I had just completed six years in the legal profession and five years at Hitesh Soni & Associates. I was the only young awardee in the field of law. Well, from the beginning of my practice until I received this award, I worked in a diverse field of law. This honor is more focused on how I started in a place like Mumbai, with no background, established something, and continued the same spirit, which must have contributed, and the rest are cases I worked on that I feel I should not discuss.
Your expertise covers a wide range of legal areas, including constitutional law, corporate and commercial law, international trade, customs law, immigration law, and white-collar crime. What drew you to these specific fields, and how do you manage to excel in such diverse areas of law?
These practices can never start with the practice of law, but the root is somewhere else. In my case, it is related to my law school days. I never studied for law exams only, but I interpreted the text as if I was going to deal with such cases in the future, and that’s the key. Reading is the key, and reading in a way not just for examination, is to keep in mind. Simply put, I never had any extra interest in any particular subject of law, but I was inclined and interested equally. In fact, if I can share more candidly, you have to be an expert in all subjects; what’s your next case? You never know.
Being featured in the “2023 Annual Guide to the World’s Top Lawyers” and receiving various awards like the International Achievers’s Award and the Rashtriya Gaurav Award is truly impressive. How do these accolades impact your approach to your work, and what do they mean to you personally and professionally?
Thank you. These recognitions bring a great deal of sense of maturity, integrity, and responsibility, specifically when justice in India is not always served hot. Actually, it is also another wrong perception; laymen think urgent reliefs are not justice. The legal profession is a triangle where you have only one edge, while the other edge is the opposition lawyer, and ultimately, the judicial system, which ultimately takes its time and decides finally. In the midst of this lies the other skill of a lawyer: to calm his clients and keep giving them hope, but more than simply giving them hope, you have to keep making consistent attempts for your client because, for you, it may be one of hundreds of cases, but believe me, for your client, that’s the only case and it matters a lot for them. I take it that way, and it helps me a lot. These awards remind me that when I saw a dream of nature somewhere, a prayer for my success was heard and answered. Though there is a lot to be done, it is just the beginning of a lifetime.
Your law firm, Hitesh Soni & Associates, has expanded its presence to multiple locations, including Bombay, BKC, and New Delhi. What challenges did you encounter while expanding your firm, and how do you ensure consistent quality and service across these different locations?
Mumbai was and will always remain a base for Hitesh Soni & Associates; after all, this is the place where my dream took flight. I am not so frequent, but I am a decent visitor to the Supreme Court of India. Whether it is related to our firm client or any other brief, Delhi is something you cannot avoid, not only the highest judicial body but also many other authorities, tribunals, and whatnot. We started the firm in New Delhi last year, in June 2023. The initial challenge for me was handling it without any partners there. Our firm is primarily operated and run by me and my wife, Adv. Vaishali H. Soni, and we are based in Mumbai, so it is a challenge for us to find a team of trustworthy individuals. I believe any law firm cannot go beyond the quality of minds that make it up. Thus, yes, it is challenging to look for like-minded individuals who can understand your value to the firm.
As the founder of an award-winning law firm, what role do you believe innovation and adaptability play in the legal profession, and how do you incorporate these elements into the services provided by your firm?
After international law firms came to India, good things happened, boosting innovation and adaptability for Indian law firms. Like ours, we have to keep adapting to innovation. Innovations for me are not just adopting AI and software but also matching the international industry standard for staff, juniors, and interns, who are ultimately India’s upcoming legal faces. Thus, it has a great role to play; without it, a law firm becomes outdated, and in these changing times, no one can afford to be that.
Given your extensive experience and success in the legal field, what advice would you offer to law graduates who are just starting their careers and aspiring to make a significant impact in the legal profession?
If you read my story, you would have experienced the challenges and had an idea of how I have done it, but to all fresh law graduates and aspiring lawyers, I advise you that it is immaterial how you started, where you started, and how you are going to start, but what is important is to remember that you are never going to feel down when you do not get an internship or a job; you do not get upset when you lose a case or a client backfires on you; and always remember that nothing can force a sun to set for a lifetime. Believe me, you are a sun, and the next sunshines are yours. Wait for your dawn to come. All the best.
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