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An estimated 4-minute read

Transition: from Corporate law to Litigation

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"Don't try to become someone; instead try doing something", says Fali S. Nariman in his autobiography and these words have had a profound impact on me.

In January 2009 I realized that the Fifth Year was at its fag end, and i had to prepare for the future, so i started applying to different law firms. However i got dinged by almost all of them, and few did not bother replying. My spirit did not weaken and I started preparing for my final semester. Soon after the final paper, I applied to a firm, which I had neglected the first time around thinking that they would never choose a Law grad from a regional school.

I was surprised when the Mumbai Partner called me up for a telephonic interview; he also asked me to come to Mumbai for a face to face interview. I reached Mumbai on a Monday morning and soon was ready to catch the train which took me to Nariman Point. Although born in Mumbai, I studied in a small town; and therefore detested the local trains.

The Interview started with the life in my town and the places I loved to visit, never did the partner looked at my credentials nor any moot court achievements. We spoke about the places near my town and some law subjects. The next day i had my offer letter mailed to me. :-)

Within five days I was an associate at one of the Law Firms featured in the Legal 500. The Story should technically end here, and i should have been lost in the working class anonymity, taking a huge pay cheque every month. But things were meant to be different.

Few months into the job and I had a very cushy bank balance and also developed an enormous ego. Mumbai and the Corporate Life had changed this little kid from a small town. I started spending more than I should have, and did not bother me as i knew the next month my account will be refilled by the generous retainer fee.

Seasons changed, Mumbai was dry now, the rain gods had gone in their slumber, but a little advocate awakened in me. I was tired of writing opinions and researching English precedents. I had the Tag of a Big Firm, but i realized my knowledge about the entire process of Law was NIL. I started wondering how can I change things around for me, I did not want to be just some Email-ID which generated opinions.

I don't know if it was courage or stupidity, I left my Job and came back to my home. Days turned into Months and I still did not Know what i was meant to do.

One fine day my Father came to me for some legal opinion he required for his organization. I felt great as finally i was at least going to do something. I wrote a ten page opinion on the matter, and my father said, "why don't you practice ? " . I looked up at him, and thought to myself oh yeah i shud atleast give it a shot.

All my five years of law college i wanted to get into a corporate law firm, and wear crisp shirts and savvy suits. But i dint quite understand why i did not consider practice as an option.

So i got my first brief. The matter was a writ petition in HC in which a small MCA for dispersing money was to be argued. I had never argued in any court ever (except Moot Court), but then i said to myself if I let fear set in it won't work out. So i read the brief, researched case laws, and went and presented the facts and law to the judge. Judge felt he needed to hear both parties at length and therefore adjourned the matter. As soon as i stepped out of the court room, few of my college friends started asking me in whose chamber i was deviling. When i told them no-one, they seemed quite impressed and complemented me on my brief presentation. I started thinking what was so great in that, i merely "told" the judge in "simple language" what the case was about.(Now i realize that is the most difficult part)

So one thing let to another and i started appearing for my Dad's organization(its a social org, but not like an NGO). Today a year has passed and i have argued against Big Corporations, against Big Senior Counsels, and against the State Government. I started my own practice and realised that this is what i was meant to do. This was my destiny, and this was where my talent lies.

Trust me, there is nothing more pleasing than a judge's smile when he agrees to your proposition. Sometimes i did feel i should have joined a Senior, but then looking at my other colleagues at the Bar, i dint want to hold files and seek adjournments. I would say that one learns much more by doing it himself, then watching his Senior play the cards. Though this should not be taken as a Rule.

The matters a junior counsel like me argues may not be huge and awesome, like my law firm friends get to work on. However, the satisfaction i get when my client goes home with the relief is un comparable. As Shri Ashok Desai, SC said in one of his interviews ,"It is much better to argue a small case than be a second fiddle in a large case".

So that was how the transition took place, purely by fate. The journey has now begun, and destiny plays the cards, i am just helping destiny do its job.




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