Being a science student, and then choosing law, what was the idea behind?
Though I was doing good in science, however somehow, I was not interested in pursuing a career in science and therefore, was looking for options. During this time, my family suggested me to go for a career in law and when I started preparing for entrance exams of different law schools (as we did not have CLAT back then) – it really fascinated me. I started reading about famous lawyers in India and also visited the lower Court in my city, the idea of wearing that collar band and arguing in Court used to give me goosebumps.
At was during this time that I firmly took a call to make a career and practice law.
How challenging has it been for you so far in the legal industry?
It has been a very satisfactory journey so far. I was able to clear the entrance exam of two National Law Universities and two reputation private universities and decided to join HNLU, Raipur. I joined the third batch of HNLU, Raipur in 2004 and was fortunate to have been taught by some of the best faculties at the time. My five year stay at HNLU was both memorable and enlightening at the same time.
The strict time lines to submit projects and moot court memorials gave me an early introduction of how the legal profession going to be and worked as a solid foundation for later part of my career.
I joined an IP boutique firm ZuesIP immediately after completing my course and thereafter, my joined current firm Rahul Chaudhry & Partners in 2010.
My firm and my mentor Mr. Rahul Chaudhry, the Managing Partner of the firm have immensely helped me become the professional I am today. I started as a junior associate in the firm and slowly learned the nuances of IP and law in general. I was designed as Partner – IP Enforcement in 2021 and handles IP Enforcement before the Courts in India, Domain Name as well as Custom Authorities.
What created your interest in the IP sector? And how did you prepare yourself for everyday challenges in the same?
My initial interest in IPR started when we were taught IPR in the second and third years of our law course. The idea of knowing, protecting as well as helping the brands grow attracted me and I decided to intern with IP Firms to better understand the subject. I learned the intricacies of IP as a subject and practical aspects of implementing the same in day-to-day legal practice during these internships.
Accordingly, I opted for IPR as my honours subject in the university and got a specialization in the same.
Preparing myself to practice IPR was not a challenge for me as I had a keen interest in the subject. I used to go through all major IP judgments by the Courts to keep myself updated of the latest developments and still try to read as much as I can whenever the schedule permits.
According to you, what networking strategies should be adopted by the first generation lawyers specifically in corporate?
Being a first generation lawyer myself, I have never felt any difference in terms of treatment by law firms or corporates. If you have knowledge of the subject and good command over language – you are bound to be noticed. The age old saying that there is no substitute to hard work is absolutely correct. I am a strong supporter of making your work speaks for yourself. If you are getting reliefs for your clients and are being recommended for your work – the world will look for you.
At the same time, I would suggest one to leverage technology, join industry groups in person or through various social media like LinkedIn and also offer educational resources. Give presentations and educational lectures in various industry gatherings as well as educational institutions.
What are the most important qualities for an intellectual property lawyer?
An IP lawyer needs to keep himself updated with latest judgments and industry practices. With the creation of IP Divisions in the Courts, IP has become even more niche practice. Going through PTC on a regular basis and keeping a track of prosecution practice is also very important. I always suggest that to be a successful IP lawyer, one should have a good command over prosecution side as the same forms the foundation of one’s IP practice.
How a trade mark application is filed, the route it takes for registration and how to overcome the objections raised by the Administrative Authorities (like Trade Marks Registry) are all very important. A wrong advice to the client during prosecution and registration procedure can ruin all future prospects of protecting and enforcing the mark.
Zeeshan, do these legal tech tools have helped litigants and corporates so far in preparation of different documents or filing and what in the future would be challenges for lawyers in dealing with such tools?
The tech tools are indeed helpful and I see them playing a greater role in future. Along with saving time, the tools also minimise the chances of an error. Many corporates have started using them to keep a track of their matters pending in the Courts, checking the deadlines and even setting reminders to ensure that no deadlines are being missed. As we all know, deadlines play very important role in our profession.
The time frame provided by the statues to file pleadings/documents before Courts as well as various administrative authorities are to be strictly followed, specially in IP prosecution. Hence, I believe the tech tools are going to be a game changer in future. With respect to the challenges, I believe the new generation of lawyers will not have any difficulty in handling these tools. I suggest even law schools should start preparing the students to use these tools during their course.
As a partner of a law firm, how do you manage to balance the work-life aspect?
Work-life balance is very important to ensure a long-term efficiency in work and a satisfaction in your personal life. My day usually starts at 9 am in the office and then few hours are spent in the Court as well. Being a partner, I also try spending sometime with my team members to interact and discuss work and the general life related aspects. However, one needs to prioritise the work and maintain a discipline during the working hours.
I am a strong supporter of not carrying the work related stress to home and spend my away time playing with my daughter as well as working out. It is equally important to take care of your health and therefore, I have made it a routine to work out for atleast an hour every morning.
The same not only helps me stay strong physically but also strengths my mind and helps me to prepare myself for the day.
Lastly, any advice for our young law generation?
Legal field requires continuous study and keeping yourself updated of the latest developments. So, it is very important to make an early habit of reading latest judgments as well as precedents. Young lawyers should also visit Courts and hear established legal practitioners argue the cases in Court.
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