“Your attention is your most valuable asset, Focus on mastering corporate law and industry knowledge; it’s the cornerstone of expertise in handling complex cases.” – Tanu Priya Gupta, Advocate-on-Record at the Supreme Court of India and Founding Partner of Sarvagya Legal

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

Can you take us through your journey from college to becoming an advocate-on-record at the Supreme Court of India? What inspired you to pursue this path and take the Advocate on Record exam, and what challenges did you encounter during the initial stages of your career?

Law was not an obvious choice, and in fact, I didn’t really fully comprehend what it entails when I opted to study law at CLC, Delhi University. My friend’s father was a sitting judge in Tis Hazari Court. His encouragement to take the DU Law entrance, along with my active involvement in DU student politics, paved the way for my legal career. After this, I can say that I pursued my career in law with the utmost loyalty, and the journey has been fulfilling and enriching so far. 

College internships provided practical insights into the legal profession and a glimpse of courtroom procedures. While my peers gravitated towards the lucrative corporate world, I naturally gravitated towards traditional litigation. After completing my law degree, I joined reputed litigation firms, where I had the opportunity to work on diverse cases and regularly and independently appear before courts and tribunals. In late 2016, I decided to go on my own and continued so until last year, when I, along with two other partners, decided to join hands and form a law firm.

Regarding my decision to become an AOR, I can confidently say that almost every lawyer, including myself, aspires for the privilege to appear before the highest court of this country. As my professional trajectory advanced, I decided to become an AOR so that I could independently represent my client and do the filings in my own name.

As far as encountering challenges in the initial stages of my career, I must state that working in law firms has its own set of advantages. Consequently, apart from meeting deadlines and managing court cases with diligence and effectiveness, I encountered no typical initial challenges, especially those concerning sustainability. Having said that, there are challenges that are inherent to this profession, such as the constant need to perform, obtain relief, look out for your client’s best interests, and strive for legal excellence. These challenges are timeless, and I still face them today, every day, and in every matter. 

As a co-founder of Sarvagya Legal, what inspired you to establish your own law firm, and what unique perspective do you bring to the table?

I have come from a law firm culture and have always felt most at ease in an environment where people collaborate, a structure is in place, roles are defined, and responsibilities are shared.

After going independent and facing some initial resistance and hiccups, I was able to establish a comfortable practice. However, I still missed the camaraderie and support network that come with being part of a firm. This led to the need to look out for my comrades. Besides this, I have first-hand witnessed the difficulties that individual lawyers face when navigating legal matters. This experience, together with my personal preferences, strengthened my resolve to have a firm that unites like-minded people who prioritise legal excellence and professional ethics. Sarvagya Legal is all I really hoped for. Plus, Mr. Abhishek Birthray and Ms. Reeta Mishra, my partners, have a great deal of experience and expertise. Though Sarvagya Legal is only a year old, I believe the noteworthy standing of its partners is the reason our Firm has already gained a lot of credibility in the fraternity, and I couldn’t be prouder. 

One of the unique perspectives I bring to the table is a rational approach to legal representation. I believe that the integration of legal proficiency, client-centricity, and a practical mindset leads to successful outcomes. 

With your forte in infrastructure and construction arbitration, could you share a memorable case that taught you significant lessons about navigating such disputes?

For me, each case was memorable and had its own set of learnings and takeaways. One case taught me that in construction arbitration, which is primarily document-driven and involves admitted inordinate delays and cost overruns, a thorough cross-examination of cost overrun claims can reveal duplications and discrepancies. This, in turn, can aid in the huge reduction of overrun claim amounts.

Large-scale construction arbitrations generally involve a multitude of documents and contributory breaches by parties. There, the devil lies in the details. Thus, familiarising oneself with this multitude of documents is crucial. 

I have also realised that even though in arbitration one is able to extensively introduce and argue its case and cite innumerable documents, it is a story that sticks. Therefore, introduce your case as a story and then substantiate it with supporting documentation.

Being an advocate-on-record at the Supreme Court of India, what challenges do you face in representing clients before such a prestigious institution, and how do you overcome them?

The first and foremost challenge is that there is intense pressure to secure a favourable outcome for your client, as it is generally the last resort. Clients often have high expectations when their cases reach the Supreme Court. It’s important to manage client expectations realistically and communicate clearly about the legal process and potential outcomes.

The Supreme Court has high standards of advocacy. Every minute that the Supreme Court provides is valuable. Thus, keeping arguments persuasive and succinct is often challenging, especially considering that a case that has already travelled this far involves complex issues and a gamut of facts. 

To overcome this challenge, I ensure that I have a thorough understanding of the facts and legal principles involved, so that I can crystallise relevant issues in the simplest form possible. In addition, I attempt to mentally prepare myself to respond to difficult inquiries by practicing potential answers.

You’ve been actively involved in academia, speaking at law colleges and conducting online courses. How does this blend of academic engagement enrich your legal practice?

Maintaining a lifelong commitment to learning is critical, and being actively involved in academia helps me achieve it. Engaging with law students and professionals from non-legal backgrounds allows me to delve deeper into legal propositions from different perspectives. Moreover, these engagements allow me to contribute to the profession in my own little way.

Given your extensive experience, what advice would you offer to young lawyers aspiring to build a successful career in corporate-commercial litigation?

Your attention is your most valuable asset. So pay attention to developing a solid understanding of corporate law and industry knowledge. This foundation will serve as the basis for your expertise and confidence in handling complex cases.

Pay attention to the facts and legal principles involved in the matter. Precision and accuracy are crucial in corporate-commercial litigation, where even small errors can have significant consequences.

Pay attention to maintaining high ethical standards, and remember that trust and respect in the fraternity will be your professional legacy.

Lastly, pay less attention to the noise around you, and remember that there is no strait jacket formula for success; there is no singular definition of success. We all have different paths; what matters is whether we gave it our all.

Could you share a pivotal moment or mentor who significantly influenced your journey as an advocate-on-record?

It’s difficult to narrow down any particular pivotal moment or mentor who significantly influenced my journey. However, I have been fortunate enough to work closely with brilliant professionals and legal luminaries. Their wealth of experience, strategic insights, and dedication to the profession left a lasting impact on me. Their guidance continues to influence my journey, reminding me of the profound impact mentorship can have on one’s career in law. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I actively dedicate my time to the world of academia.

With your involvement in various government organizations and public sector units, how do you navigate the intersection between legal intricacies and bureaucratic procedures?

While representing government organisations before constitutional courts is a matter of prestige, it comes with its own set of challenges owing to bureaucracy. Therefore, navigating this intersection requires a nuanced approach that involves understanding the organisational workings and a realistic approach, keeping red tapism and bureaucratic barriers in mind. Over the years, I have come to understand that maintaining records of everything in writing, effective communication, and conducting consistent follow-ups are the most effective approaches.

Considering your role as a guest faculty member, what fundamental skills or knowledge do you believe the current generation of law students should focus on to excel in their careers?

I believe the current generation of lawyers is far more committed to the profession, which helps them hit the ground running right after their law college. I was recently extended an invitation to serve as a judge in an international moot, and the calibre of advocacy exhibited by law students was tremendously impressive. Even in my engagement with law students as a guest faculty member, I can see how their legal acumen has evolved given their access to a huge digital database. Considering the availability of such an abundance of information, my advice would be to stay inquisitive and think critically and analytically. Also, read and understand Bare Acts first before delving into the ocean of articles, blogs, research papers, reels, etc.

Beyond your professional endeavors, what personal hobbies or interests do you pursue to maintain balance and rejuvenate?

Outside of my professional endeavours, I prioritise maintaining a healthy work-life balance. As I prefer to start my day at least by 6 a.m., my constant endeavour is to finish my work by 7-8 p.m. Morning strolls, reading literature from different genres, listening to podcasts, and travelling allow me to unwind. Whether it’s a weekend getaway to a nearby destination or an international adventure, I believe that experiencing the world outside of my professional sphere enriches my overall well-being and keeps me motivated.

Get in touch with Tanu Priya Gupta–

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top