“When we speak of white-collar crime and criminal law, I firmly believe that everyone deserves a chance to be represented vigorously and fairly”- Vaibhavi Sharma, Associate Partner, Prosoll Law

This Interview has been published by Pragya Chandni and The SuperLawyer Team

Can you share what inspired you to pursue a career in law, particularly focusing on criminal law and white-collar crime?

I would be honest to confess that law was not my first choice. Initially, I did not aspire to become a lawyer, considering the inherent expectations that come with being a second-generation lawyer. For all the years I was growing up, I had observed my Father from close quarters, putting his soul into the profession and it seemed overwhelming at that time. I also deeply admired all my teachers in school and realized the power of academics in shaping an individual’s life. Therefore, I was inclined towards being an educator and I started pursuing Bachelors in Commerce from Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi, thinking that would be my path. The course got me deeper insights into the ecosystem of commerce, and some of the subjects including contracts, commercial law, and taxation piqued my interest. With this new-found interest, law as a subject started pulling me towards it and after a discussion at home, I finally took the plunge to pursue law. You can say it was a ‘what you seek is also seeking you’ moment for me!

During my tenure in law school, I developed a profound affinity for criminal law, a passion that led me to delve deeper into its various facets. The background in commerce had anyway sharpened my faculties in the field of economics and financial matters, which finally led to my focus gravitating towards white-collar crime. This was also the field where I could get the best mentor in my father who is renowned for his impeccable body of work in this area. I couldn’t have asked for more. So here I am, not where I thought I would be, but definitely where I am meant to be. Turns out, the unexpected detour into law was exactly what I needed.

With such a diverse range of clients, including high-ranking officials and business ventures, could you elaborate on how you navigate the complexities of representing such varied interests in the legal realm?

Building and maintaining trust across such a broad spectrum of clients requires more than just legal expertise; it demands a holistic understanding of their background, career trajectory, growth challenges, aspirations, and most importantly the circumstances in which they approach you. The law and its applicability will remain the same, what is differentiating factor in any particular case is the legal strategy, the court craft and the merit in your advocacy when you’re representing a client in the court of law. For me, each client mandate deserves its due attention because while we may be dealing with many clients, for clients we are the only one they have chosen over other service providers. Empathy, prioritization of clients’ needs and giving them an experience that addresses their concerns are the other important aspects that go beyond legal acumen. Effective communication and ethical integrity are other two areas where I would never compromise. All my clients are personally informed by me even for the smallest of updates. This is my way of showing them my respect and that they are not one more ‘case’ in our file. Ethical integrity comes from the moral compass that guides my decisions and actions.

Your experience spans various aspects of litigation, from arguing cases to drafting legal documents. Could you highlight a particularly challenging case you’ve worked on and the strategies you employed to achieve a favourable outcome?

I strongly believe that each and every case has its own unique challenges and nuances. However, in a significant case I handled alongside my team at Prosoll Law, a major challenge revolved around an alleged incriminating telephonic conversation crucial to the prosecution’s case. Recognizing the pivotal role of this evidence, we strategically devised a unique approach.

We formulated a legal strategy focused on elevating crucial issues of law, particularly centered on the contested telephonic exchange. Anticipating the importance of the original call details, we proactively filed Criminal Miscellaneous Petitions before the High Court of Delhi after our initial application was rejected by the Trial Court.

This helped us in identifying and capitalising on key opportunities. By framing the legal discourse around the need for the original call details, we not only highlighted the criticality of this evidence but also emphasised its potential impact on the case’s outcome.

This matter always serves as a reminder to me of the importance of employing innovative and effective strategies to overcome challenges in crucial times.

You’ve been recognized by several esteemed legal publications and platforms for your work in white-collar crime and criminal law. What do you believe sets your approach apart in this field?

When we speak of white-collar crime and criminal law, I firmly believe that everyone deserves a chance to be represented vigorously and fairly. I approach each case with a deep-understanding of the facts of the case along with the fundamental principle in it. By doing so, I can effectively navigate the substantive as well as procedural aspects, while ensuring that my client’s interests are safeguarded. Our distinction lies in our consistent client base. As lawyers, our commitment is rooted in strong legal knowledge, staying updated with precedents, and honing courtroom skills. When our reputation spreads through word of mouth, our consistent clients truly set us apart.

As an Associate Partner at Prosoll Law, you appear in matters before various judicial and quasi-judicial forums. Can you shed light on the differences in strategy when presenting cases before different courts or tribunals?

Ultimately, successful litigation demands a dynamic and adaptable approach. When appearing before an appellate, a more formal and precedent-focused approach is often effective. In contrast, when appearing before quasi-judicial forums or specialized courts, a more technical and specialized strategy is required. These forums often deal with specific areas of law, such as tax, environmental, or administrative law, and demand an in-depth understanding of the subject matter. Curating arguments that align with the technicalities of the court’s jurisdiction and expertise can significantly enhance the case’s prospects.

Given your involvement in high-profile cases, such as representing a former Chief Minister, could you discuss the unique challenges and responsibilities that come with representing public figures in legal matters?

Representing public figures in legal matters, especially in high-profile cases, presents a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. While dealing with such cases, one has to maintain a fine balance between legal intricacies and public perception, like in the case you have mentioned about.

One of the foremost challenges lies in mitigating reputational risks for our clients. Public figures often face intense scrutiny and media attention, which can potentially impact the free and fair investigation and may also adversely impact their public image. My philosophy has always been to primarily prioritize shielding our clients from sensationalism while concurrently formulating a robust defence strategy. This dual focus ensures that the legal proceedings remain the focal point, safeguarding our clients’ reputations from undue damage and media trial.

In such cases, upholding fairness and justice becomes paramount. I recognize the importance of ensuring that our clients receive a fair trial and are not unduly influenced by external factors, be it media or public discourse

You’ve co-authored articles on topics such as telephonic surveillance and the Prevention of Corruption Act. How do you balance your legal practice with scholarly pursuits, and how do these academic contributions inform your work?

Balancing my legal practice with scholarly pursuits is a deliberate and symbiotic process. This dual commitment is not a mere juggling act; rather, it is a synergy that enhances both facets of my professional life. Writing and research are fundamental to a lawyer’s life. They not only sharpen the analytical bent of mind, but also help one in keeping their finger on the pulse of what’s happening. In legal practice, staying ahead requires more than courtroom acumen—it demands a continuous pursuit of knowledge. Writing articles allows me to delve deep into legal research and the evolution of law and its application that takes shape every day in our courts. This ensures that my understanding of the law and evolving jurisprudence remains not only current but also finely nuanced. Similarly, the daily rigours of my legal practice make my writing relevant, real and transfused with experience. Real-world experiences provide insights that add a practical point of view to theoretical frameworks. This infusion of my academic contributions with tangible and practical relevance adds weight to my writing. 

Finally, what advice would you offer to law students or recent graduates who are embarking on their legal careers, particularly those interested in criminal law and litigation?

In the realm of legal careers, particularly for those venturing into criminal law and litigation, my foremost advice would be to understand that – there are no shortcuts. Perseverance coupled with merit is the key. The second important aspect is to break the barriers, myths and stereotypes like ‘criminal law is not for women’, As I reflect on my own journey, resilience and grit became my compass as I chose the less trodden path of criminal law. To aspiring students, I emphasize the importance of listening to their true calling. Only when you make your field your primary interest, will you be able to focus on the path to mastery.. With the end-goal in mind, every action becomes a calculated step towards success. 

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