“Through open communication, continuous learning, and professional development, I cultivate a culture of collaboration that drives success.” – Purvi Shah Asher, Partner at M/s. Maunsukhlal Hiralal & Co

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

Reflecting on your journey from the initial days after college to where you are now, could you share some insights into the challenges or struggles you faced when starting your career, and how you navigated through them to reach your current position as a Partner at Mansukhlal Hiralal & Co.?

When I look back at my early days, I faced several challenges, the foremost being establishing myself in a competitive legal landscape. I started working at the grassroot level and navigated the system while learning the legal skills. People believe that litigation is about drafting and arguing, but a huge part of litigation is the process that each of the courts implement.  

In hindsight, starting my career at Mansukhlal Hiralal & Co. felt daunting. Balancing the steep learning curve with client demands was challenging. It was a centenarian firm with an impeccable reputation to vouch for. But I embraced mentorship, built relationships, and developed resilience. Each obstacle became a stepping stone, fuelling my growth and leading to my current role as a Partner. The most challenging part for me was networking. As  lawyers, we are not trained to network. Personally, I had to work hard to come out of my shell to expand my network. =I focused on continuous learning, and sought mentorship from seniors and experts. I worked in different roles to develop new avenues and set a solid base for the years ahead. This act of building a strong network and fostering positive relationships within the legal community also played a pivotal role in my journey. Being able to adapt and never give up was vital. This helped me overcome hurdles and move forward in my career to the position I am in today.

Congratulations on being named ‘Woman Legal Leader of the Year’ by the Future Digital Summit 2022! Can you share with us what this recognition means to you personally and professionally? Also, given your achievements, including being part of the Asia Super 50 Disputes Lawyers, what motivates you to continue pushing boundaries and excelling in your field?

Thank you for your kind words. These recognitions are truly an honour and a testament to the hard work of not just myself, but my entire team at M/s. Mansukhlal Hiralal & Co. In fact, it is humbling as well as intimidating since now the bar is set higher and I know I need to do even more than I have been, to stay on these lists.

It was a pleasant surprise being named the ‘Woman Legal Leader of the Year’ by Future Digital Summit 2022. It is a substantial honour for me, both on a personal and professional level. Personally, it signifies that the determination and effort I have invested in my profession have been recognized and rewarded. Professionally, this accolade serves as a motivation to continue contributing to advancements in the legal sector, reinforce my commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to inspire other women to pursue leadership roles. 

Furthermore, being part of the Asia Super 50 Disputes Lawyers adds another layer of motivation. It reinforces my dedication to pushing boundaries and excelling in my field and contributing meaningfully to the legal community. It’s a constant reminder that excellence is a journey, not a destination, and one cannot get carried away with it.

As a TEDx speaker, we’re curious about your experience. What topic did you speak about, and how did sharing your insights on that platform influence your perspective on your legal practice?

My passion for empowering women extends beyond the courtroom. I recently gave a TEDx Talk titled ‘Equality Begins at Home,’ where I explored how fostering gender equality within families can be a powerful catalyst for broader societal change.

During my years of practice, I have represented several women who are ill-treated at home, be it mentally, physically, emotionally or financially. While I help them legally, I can say that in this evolving world, the term equality is used very loosely. There are so many facets of equality that need to be looked into. It is easy to understand that if you don’t grow up understanding what equality is, you will have difficulty in implementing it.

I am sharing the link as well.

During my talk, I emphasized the importance of looking into people’s mindset. It is a change that is required to bring equality in life. Equality is only spoken about superficially. It’s not just about educating a girl child or her having a successful career. It is how girls and women are treated at home and outside and breaking societal stereotypes to empower women. I shared stories of resilience, determination, and success, highlighting how only a change of mindset can have the transformative impact that empowering women can have on families, communities, and societies at large.

As a lawyer, my experience speaking on the TEDx platform influenced my perspective on my legal career. It reinforced the important role of the legal system in promoting gender equality and protecting women’s rights. It highlighted the need for lawyers to actively participate in projects that promote women’s empowerment and advocate for policies that address gender inequality.

On a personal note, my 13-year-old son was the proudest to have his mother be invited to be a TEDx speaker. He also related to the topic and understood its essence. He helped me throughout my preparation. So, for me, that itself was a big win.

As a leader heading the corporate, real estate, and dispute resolution team, how do you foster a collaborative and innovative work environment among your team members? Can you share an example of a successful collaborative effort that had a positive impact on a project or case?

As the leader heading the corporate, real estate, and dispute resolution team, fostering a collaborative and innovative work environment is critical to success. One effective way I encourage collaboration is by encouraging open communication and creating a culture where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. I believe in the power of ideas and actively seek opinions from individuals of different backgrounds and expertise. Additionally, I encourage continuous learning and professional development and motivate team members to stay abreast of industry growth and development. We hold in-house update sessions once a month where all the team members educate the other members with critical updates.

One outstanding example of a successful collaborative effort in our group was during a real estate transaction for the sale of two adjoining plots of land with two separate structures. The interesting part of this land holding and the structure holding was that the ownership belonged to one family, and was divided into several entities being: 

  1. Individuals,
  2. Several HUFs
  3. Private Limited Company
  4. Partnership firm and
  5. Trust

Along with this, there were several disputes inter-se between the co-owners including testamentary disputes, corporate actions, and partners-inter se, and there were several tenants in both the structures. All these land-holding structures and the disputes led to a very low valuation of the property.

For the sale of this property, my real estate team, my dispute resolution team and my corporate team not only worked together but put a joint face before the clients and all the adversaries. With such seamless collaboration, all the disputes and challenges were resolved and the client got a substantially high consideration for this property.

For aspiring lawyers and law students looking to excel in corporate law, real estate, or dispute resolution, what specific skills or areas of knowledge do you believe they should prioritize during their education and early career? Considering your diverse expertise, what types of internships or practical experiences would you recommend for students to gain a well-rounded understanding of the legal field and enhance their employability?

For aspiring lawyers in corporate law, real estate, or dispute resolution, prioritizing skills such as legal research, negotiation, and communication is crucial. I personally believe that whatever practice area you choose, one should always have hands-on experience in litigation and dispute resolution. One may be brilliant at drafting contracts and commercial documents, but execution of the agreement is not the measure of good drafting. The measure of good drafting is the test of the court. If the document does not speak for your intent in drafting in the Courts, the draft is not good enough. I strongly recommend having hands-on litigation experience early on in your career and then deciding your area of practice.  I also strongly recommend judicial internships.

Needless to say, staying updated on industry trends, and developing business acumen is essential. Practical experience through internships and networking can provide a holistic understanding of the legal profession and enhance employability. To gain a well-rounded understanding of the legal field, students should pursue internships in diverse areas, including law firms, corporate legal departments, and government organizations. Practical experiences in drafting and research contribute to a comprehensive skill set. Exposure to different legal environments helps students adapt to various scenarios, making them versatile professionals.

You hold licenses as a Solicitor in the U.K. and Wales as well as in India. How has being a member of both legal communities enriched your professional perspective, and how do you navigate the differences in legal practices between these jurisdictions in your daily work?

Being a Solicitor in the U.K. and Wales as well as in India has enriched my professional perspective. It allows me to move seamlessly between legal systems, giving clients a global perspective. Having recognized the differences between legal practices, I use the strengths of each jurisdiction to provide comprehensive solutions. It provides me broader understanding of the nuances of international law and enhance the quality of legal services.

Considering your extensive experience, are there any key changes or developments in the legal landscape of India that you find particularly noteworthy or impactful for the legal community?

The Indian economy and landscape is changing every day. The laws we have also need to be updated at the same speed. There are several noteworthy changes in the legal sphere as well. As the world takes steps into the world of Artificial Intelligence and constant digital upgradation, the challenges of privacy have increased multifold. To mitigate the same, Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDPA) is a crucial development in the Indian legal landscape.  It is the very first comprehensive data privacy law in India with focus on individual rights. It empowers individuals with rights like access, correction, and erasure of their personal data, granting them greater control over its use. It also imposes obligations on data fiduciaries i.e. businesses collecting and processing personal data with respect to data security, transparency, and accountability. It also establishes the Data Protection Authority to oversee data protection compliance and investigate potential violations.

The Indian government is actively working to update and improve its regulatory framework across various sectors. This includes initiatives like the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA)

The Indian legal system is embracing technology at an accelerating pace. Increasing use of technology in legal practice, including virtual court proceedings, has streamlined processes and increased accessibility. This shift presents both opportunities and challenges, emphasizing the need for legal professionals to adapt to the evolving landscape.

Initiatives like the eCourts Mission and the introduction of online dispute resolution (ODR) platforms are transforming how cases are filed, managed, and adjudicated.

Outside of your legal career, what are your favorite ways to unwind and relax? Do you have any hobbies or activities that you find particularly rejuvenating?

I am a big advocate for work-life balance. Outside of my legal career, spending time with my son and my family are my biggest stress busters. I also find relaxation through various activities. I love reading, it gives me a break and a new perspective. I have re-connected with Bharatnatyam and it is really fulfilling to perform again on the stage. Traveling and exploring different cultures also rejuvenates me, and gives me new perspectives that positively impact my professional life.

Get in touch with Purvi Shah Asher-

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