With the right team, right resources and right networking we make sure that we are able to provide our expertise and handle different cases- Kanika Bhardwaj, Founder of Kanika Bhardwaj Law firm

This interview has been published by  Priyanka Karwa and The SuperLawyer Team

Can you tell us about your journey and how you ended up becoming a lawyer? What drew you to the field of law and motivated you to establish Kanika Bhardwaj Law Firm?

My journey till date has been full of ups and downs. There were several issues from time to time. Being a first generation lawyer, I have started from scratch. There was a lack of resources, there was no office ( I used to keep my files in my car and used to meet clients at canteen or CCD.) But I must say consistency is the key and then obviously one must be passionate and love what they do. If you are not passionate about this profession, I can bet you will eventually quit. So step in this profession only if you are passionate about it. 

I always wanted to be a lawyer. So this was fixed.  It is not the case of mine where I landed up in court with the flow. I knew this place was for me and I must get in. 

Moreover the idea of establishing a Law Firm was there in my mind since 5th year of mine because to be honest, I did almost 12-15 internships during my college days. I knew everything in and out about the courts and I understood that litigation can only be successful if you have clients on table. If there are no clients, no cases, no matter how good you are, your practice will be considered as “FAIL”. So I started moving towards my goal of establishing a law firm and bringing clients to the table since the day one I got my Certificate of practice. 

Kanika Bhardwaj Law Firm has been providing legal services in both litigation and the corporate sector. Could you elaborate on the types of cases, matters, disputes, and legal compliance that your firm handles on behalf of clients?

We are dealing in hard core litigation in criminal, civil, family (matrimonial) cases. 

We also handle matters in the High court & Supreme court of India which includes appeals, writs, SLP’s, Statutory appeals, Transfer petitions etc.

Plus we are on panel of companies and start-ups (national & international) and handling their legal department which includes contract/ agreement drafting, legal support in meetings, all sort of legal documentation, handling employer-employee issues, arbitration support, Data protection support and alongwith this we also as “Out-House Counsel” for  these companies who choose us to be on their panel or get associated with us.

How do you develop innovative legal strategies for your clients to ensure they are always a step ahead in each case, matter, or dispute? Can you provide an example of a successful strategy you implemented?

Every case is different just like every body and mind is different. So legal strategy always depends upon the facts of a case and also depends upon what relief does a client want. When you are in defense, you have to find loopholes in law and process, when you are for complainant or petitioner you have to make sure that a single loophole is not left. So the strategy keeps changing depending upon case to case. 

Moreover I make sure that my clients update me with each and every information and detail of the case so that I can make a winning strategy. At times the clients also give incomplete facts or they hide some crucial part of the facts. So the first thing I do is to make the client comfortable and take out every detail of the story that I need to know for the trial.

Second thing I usually do is to know about the opponents. It’s a saying that you win half of the battle if you know your opponent. 

Then I come on the laws and procedures and then finally I support my case with judgements/ precedents. 

I also make sure to go through the facts of the case again and again for the pleadings and trial. Also I focus very much on the drafting part. Drafting is very important. I have seen some lawyers randomly draft a case through a stereotyped draft. This is wrong practice. 

Drafting should be done carefully as the draft of the case is the foundation of the entire case. Whatever you have drafted, you cannot contradict or change the same till the Supreme Court of India. So draft carefully and take proper time in the drafting part. 

So this is how I go but again there are several stages in between which again depends upon the facts of a case and relief that client wants. 

To make sure that my client is one step ahead, I always keep advising my client from time to time what steps he has to take, what all evidence he has to arrange, what things he should do and shouldn’t do during the trial. At cross-examination, I make sure my client reads every detail of the file and I tell him how to answer while he is being examined. I stay connected with the client and keep him one step ahead.

Your firm strives for legal excellence while appreciating the commercial environment in which your clients operate. How do you strike a balance between personal approach and high professional standards in delivering comprehensive legal services to your clients?

I believe that a lawyer should not develop any personal sort of relationship with the clients. It should always be professional which makes it easier for a lawyer to work and clients also respect the same. If one develops a personal bond with the clients, the client will not take the lawyer and his instructions seriously after one point of time. A client should always have a professional picture of a lawyer in his mind. Personal approach should only be limited to an extent if a client wishes to express his emotional side in regard to his case or general/ basic information about any relevant issue.

Could you share some insights into the team at Kanika Bhardwaj Law Firm? How does the management and operations function within the firm, and what role do you as a founder of the firm play in the decision-making?

So we have 3 juniors as of now, one office boy, one clerk and 5-6 interns which keeps changing. Whenever we get a fresh case, the juniors do the drafting, share it with me, I finalize the draft. Meanwhile the juniors do the research work, find relevant judgments on the same. Clerk is responsible for all the fillings in the court, getting the orders, keeping a record of cases and maintaining the files and other clerical work.

We do have a team for legal drafting too. But the final draft of the case or any legal document is always finalized by me personally. 

Kanika Bhardwaj Law Firm handles a wide range of practice areas, including civil litigation, labor law, arbitration, corporate law, intellectual property rights, and more. How does your firm ensure expertise in such diverse areas, and what is your approach to handling different types of cases?

With the right team, right resources and right networking we make sure that we are able to provide our expertise and handle different cases. 

The stages in all these cases are almost the same. Every Act follows the process of CPC or CrPC. And one should also thoroughly know the Evidence Act.  The exception if any and the way of challenge, appeal of an order, the jurisdiction etc. is given in the Act itself. So if you read, everything is there in the Act itself. One just has to follow it. It is not rocket science. 

According to me a lawyer should know everything, learn everything and do everything until he comes to a level where he can earn in Lacs for 1 hearing.

I always aimed to provide services in diverse areas, I never wanted to restrict myself in a particular field. A lawyer should have knowledge of everything. 

Also the expertise comes from experience. The more and different cases you will do, the more experience and expertise you will have. It is a simple funda. 

Plus, it is very important to have the right kind of networking with seniors and other important people. At times there can be a situation where you are stuck, so one must have the right connections who can help you out in such situations. We make sure that we have the resources, networking, knowledge, expertise and skills to manage different cases. But all this is not built in a day. It cannot happen in a few days or months. It took 10 years to come this far and maybe it will take a few more years to reach a certain level where I have always dreamt of.

In addition to handling cases in various courts and tribunals, your firm also offers retainership and contract-based legal services. Could you explain how these arrangements work and how your firm maintains effective communication and updates with clients?

The empanelment of law firms or lawyers in government and private companies is common. We act as an “out house counsel” for several companies (both nationally and internationally) and handle their internal and external legal matters and drafting of their documents e.g. contracts, agreements, NDA’s, Legal notices, arbitration support plus we handle their litigation in court. We also provide the companies and start-ups legal advice they need from time to time. 

For all internal issues, drafting of legal documents, legal consultation, IPR and data protection related issues we charge a monthly retainership amount depending upon the work burden of a company or start-up. And in case there is any litigation, we charge extra for court cases and the fees are pre-decided. So this is how it goes. 

Initially the issue or drafting comes to juniors, they give me a basic draft, and then I finalize it.  The court hearings are attended by me personally. 

All the communication is via mail and virtually via zoom or google meet. If required our office is always open on working days and working hours for in-person meetings. 

The legal landscape is constantly evolving. How do you stay updated with local and international legal developments that may affect the interests of your clients? How does your firm adapt its strategies to incorporate these changes?

We all stay updated with the latest judgements and rules.  Nowadays several websites online keep us updated on latest judgements, rules and amendments. Several webinars are being arranged. In fact, lawsikho is one such website that helps us stay updated. 

For judgments we have SCC and Manupatra access plus we have access to several other newsletters.

The scenario has now changed a lot. With the digitalization in the legal profession, it is very easy now to stay updated with national and international laws. 

Also we keep ourselves updated from international bar associations and their pages plus we are also connected to lawyers and researchers who are working in relevant fields internationally if we want to know any specific law/ rules or guidelines. 

As a successful lawyer and founder of Kanika Bhardwaj Law Firm, what advice would you give to fresh law graduates who are starting their careers in the legal field?

Today I have seen the law students and fresh law graduates directly in order to maybe show- off or for whatever reason directly start their internship or practice from supreme court or high profile law firms which is a major mistake. I can bet you will not understand a word there and you will end up wasting your time. 

The right way is to start from ground level. Start from district court. Learn Trial; learn basic things e.g. filling of a case, filing of summons, learn the art of cross- examination, the stages in civil or criminal case. Once you have mastered this, and then go to the High court/ Supreme Court. Then you will be able to understand the process and arguments in upper courts. 

If you start from High court or Supreme Court directly, you will not know how to conduct a proper trial or you won’t be able to handle a case individually. 

So start from the scratch, there is no short-cut. 

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