Legally Flawless has started this drive to aware law students and young lawyers for them to achieve in the field of law through strategies from the achievers themselves.
This blog post is part of our “Gyan Series“. In this interview, we interviewed Adv. Gaurav K. Mehta who is an advocate based out in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He specializes in Corporate law, litigation, non-litigation, real estate due diligence work, and cyber law(crime), and frequently appears before the High Court of Gujarat and other city civil courts. Sir has an experience of over 17 years.
This interview was taken by Mr. Mayank Shyamsukha, Managerial & Technical Head at Legally Flawless.
To begin with, please share something about yourself and your professional journey.
I have studied in Gujarati medium. I come from a middle-class family and my father was a government officer. As a government officer, I would like to tell you one thing he was having ample chances for making more money otherwise, which means under the banner of corruption, but I’m telling proudly that he was a very honest officer. At that point in time, I was of the view that we were living a very mediocre life. So, for example, if I asked for a cycle he used to give me a second-hand cycle. If I asked for a bike, he used to give me a second-hand bike. But now, after some time, I’ve realized that this was a matter of great pride.
Although, I had a very honest father but I was an average student; hardly could I manage to secure 65% in my 10th Exam. Subsequently, I passed 12thScience and my father wanted me to go into the medical or engineering line, but I did not secure good marks. So, I selected arts and took admission to LD Arts College. I wanted to take psychology as my main subject, but one of my friends told me that in psychology class, there are eighty Girls and five boys(laughs). So, I opted for economics. I was very fascinated about studying in the English medium. However, as I said that I belonged to a middle-class family, so, even at that point in time, it was not possible to meet the expenses of English medium school. But, I took admission in an English medium in college. So, the first year, it was very difficult for me to gel up with English medium guys. But my confidence level was good from the very beginning. So, whatever I did, I did it with full confidence. Subsequently, I cleared my B.A. in economics, and then I was into business. At that point of time, I did not have any idea to come into the law faculty because at that time people were joining the law program just for time pass. Today, the scenario has completely changed.
Do you remember any specific incident that made you choose law as a career?
So, at the very beginning, I was into the business of computer graphic designing. I’ve done a lot of typing work for the thesis of management students, engineering students, presentations, and dissertations. I made PPT’s, and did some photocopy, lamination, binding work, and screen printing as well. Our office was on the ground floor near stadium circle and that building was also having a basement. Now, this is the turning point why I came into law. In that basement, one glow shine board manufacturing company was working and used to create a lot of noise which disturbed me. At that point in time, I was also doing computer Java and my office was nearer to the Old High Court campus, so many lawyers used to visit for photocopy, typing, and preparing applications, petitions, and suits. One advocate called Bharat Pandya used to visit frequently for all this drafting work. So, one day I discussed the disturbance I faced because of the glow shine manufacturing company, thereafter a suit was filed and in the third adjournment, the Civil Court granted a stay against the preparation of glue shine boards in front of the common area. So, I realized the power of law, and the lawyer practically. That, gentleman also advised me to do law. Then, I went to the DT law college and I got admission there.
Another aspect that led me to choose law as a profession is my wife. She was a brilliant student and she in this whole process of choosing my career inspired me to do something remarkably good. And then as a student, I joined the office of advocate Bharat Pandya, I used to attend his office, I closed down my all good business, and I was earning 50,000 to 75,000 a month in those days. At the time when I got enrolment from Bar Council, I was a father with a son. I requested my wife that I am not in a position to do or to contribute as far as the financial aspect is concerned for five years. However, she supported me and boosted my confidence.
I worked as a junior lawyer with Nirav K. Majumdar, and then I worked with advocate Advocate Jai Mehta and Rajni Mehta, who was a barrister. I have done a lot of work with Advocate Pinakin Raval and he trusted me to appear in the court and argue and that is the only way you can have a better experience and exposure to the court. I worked for him for around five to seven years and the court started recognizing me as a lawyer. So, now I’ve completed 16 years career as a lawyer.
What was the role of law school in shaping you? Please also share your motivations and how did they helped you in navigating your career path?
I hardly attended lectures when I was studying law and I cleared all examinations of law by reading publication books used for reference purposes. But as far as clearing exam is concerned, as far as the degree of law is concerned, it is an altogether different, and practical practice in the court of law is altogether different. But, I must say that classroom teaching and learning plays an important role as far as learning law is concerned. Further, after completing 15 years as a lawyer, I again had the idea to pursue LLM in corporate laws. Fortunately, there was a programme approved by Bar Council and UGC that you have an opportunity to do LLM in one year. So, I grabbed that opportunity, I took admission in GLS Faculty of Law, post-graduation course, and I completed it by attending all the lectures. I passed the course with distinction and got appreciated by the college professors as well.
Further, I would like to share that in any work we do, there is always a motivating factor. In my acquaintance, there are many successful lawyers and High Court Judges. I knew everything about the practicalities of law, however; I was a little hesitant to approach those people. I was constantly hit by the thought that I being a Xerox operator and a technical job person, how I will go and face them as they are at such a high position. On one fine day, I went to the office of Mr. Pradeep Majumdar who was a leading lawyer in the High Court, and subsequently, he became the High court judge. On that day I went to his office with my uncle and I requested him that I do Xerox and computer work so please give me some work. At that very moment, he told me Mr. Mehta why don’t you try law as a profession. So, again, I got the hint that nature wants me to do law and everything has a reason, that you are constantly receiving messages from such inspiring people around you, but the only thing is one needs to understand those hints. So, this was also one of the motivating factors that subsequently helped me in choosing law as a career.
Being a first-generation lawyer, what are the challenges and opportunities that you faced?
As a first-generation lawyer or any student who wants to pursue his career in law, the biggest challenge comes from his house and his family, if you tell your family that I want to become a lawyer, then they will initially oppose such an idea, as according to them it is a very difficult profession and the waiting period is too long and nowadays it is quite expensive to study law as well. So, this question is very obvious. When I told my father that, after giving seven-eight years into the business, I will pursue law then I faced the same reaction. He was of the opinion that you have invested so much time and energy and it is be quite difficult for you to become a lawyer and to get established in this field. But I was very firm and I convinced my father that I will study law and will face all such difficulties. So, for a student who wants to develop his career in law as a first-generation lawyer, this kind of family pressure is very obvious.
Further, I would like to tell you that one should not take this journey as a struggle as whatever you will be doing difficulties will be always there, regardless of the fact that you are a first-generation lawyer or a student having a legal background. The level of difficulty and the process remains the same. The only thing which comes into play is one’s own mindset. So, according to me, maintaining a firm mindset is the most important thing.
How has your experience shaped you into the professional you are today? How do you think your keen commercial sense has helped in starting your own firm, InLaw Inc. Law Firm?
Law as a profession has made me more mature, responsible towards the client, and of course towards society at large. In the court of law, your confidence and your preparation will make all the difference as far as your matter and the case of your client is concerned. Your client is having some hope in your capabilities, in your work, and in you, and if you don’t justify it, according to me it is not proper. It is rightly said that the role of a lawyer is important not only for the court of law but also for society at large, as a lawyer is a bridge that connects the litigation to the court in a justice delivery system. A lawyer is considered as the officer of the court and is considered at par with the hon’ble judges. They don’t stand on the lower side of the podium but at par with the judges as they assist the court to deliver a judgement based on correct principles of law. So, being a lawyer is a very responsible task and one must try his level best to justify his work.
Coming to the next question, particularly in Gujarat as far as law practice is concerned compared to Mumbai, Delhi, or any other state, the way of practice is different. Here, the majority of practice is based upon the individual’s name and goodwill. Under the law firm, one can widen the horizons by inviting more lawyers as associates if you are willing to share your power and position. So, if a person is willing to expand such boundaries then he must opt for a law firm.
Starting your own firm is a hardworking and tiresome task, do you think it is important to have some specialization or should there be a generalist approach?
While starting one’s own firm, it is very crucial to maintain a generalist approach and one should try hands over various practicing areas. Firstly, it gives a professional an opportunity to sharpen his/her skills in different sectors, and thereafter one should thrive for a more informed decision of specializing in a particular area of law if that appeals. According to me after a couple of years, specialization is preferable, because if you want to deliver good results you cannot deliver good results in every aspect, for that you have to be very specific and therefore, specialization in the law field is very important. General practice to some extent is advantageous for some years but after completing 15 years in the practice one has to be very specific and specialized.
For young lawyers how can they build their own brand and get clients?
I think for starting one’s own law firm, it is quite important to build two aspects. One is your brand and the other is your image in the profession as there are possibilities that if you have a good brand, but not a good image then it would not be a fruitful venture. So I would rather focus on image than brand. Brand reflects some glamorous touch to the profession and image reflects a very particular sense of responsibility and your contribution after giving so many years to the profession. The image doesn’t build in one day; it takes years and a long time of dedication and hard work. For building a good image, you have to keep a continuous watch on your conduct, on your behavioural aspect, in society, in your family, in the courtroom, everywhere you go you have to keep a constant watch on your behavioural part So, building that image is very important.
What according to you has changed/modified in law both in statutes or in society?
Law as a subject goes by time and tide and the evolution in law tends to be a necessity and the same can be seen by the trending legislations which have been brought forward by way of statutes. As such these legislations have the capability to impact the mindset and behavioural approach of the people towards society at large. Due to its dynamic nature, it has to be changed along with the time as we are into an era, where every single day there is a development be it in medical science, technological industry and what not And along with such developments, law is required to be changed. Further, it can be observed that the practise of law before fifteen years and practice after fifteen years has a huge difference and it would surely be changing for all time to come.
How do you think the pandemic has affected the working of law and what challenges are currently being faced by the judicial system?
The Covid era was in itself unexpected and the court of law functioned in a Virtual mode. Nobody even dreamt of the court rooms going virtual but it has happened and the internet and zoom has made it happen. While sitting in your office, you can able to argue the matter in any court of the country. So that is a miracle and I’m of the view that such an initiative shall be continued and welcomed by all, as it not only saves the time of the court and the practitioners but also helps in bridging the gap between the clients all across the country. They can also watch the proceedings in their matter which further helps in creating a transparent environment. More than the practitioners, Judges too have shown their initiative to adopt such technological changes. I practice mostly before the Gujarat High Court, which at present has adopted the live streaming of court proceedings on Youtube hence it can be fairly said that the judiciary has acceded up by ensuring expeditious delivery of justice even during pandemic.
What is your opinion about the live streaming of High Court proceedings?
According to me, this is an excellent step towards transparency of judicial process. In a democracy, people have the right to know how various institutions work and practice. As we are aware that Parliamentary proceedings are already being telecasted. Now people know how the Parliament functions. Live-streaming of the proceedings of the Supreme Court can definitely help in demystifying the working of the apex court and would bring more transparency to the justice delivery system. There are many aspects with regards to working in a court of which people, in general, are not aware. Now, a person sitting in a remote area by way of live streaming on YouTube is able to watch all the proceedings of the court. So it’s a great initiative of the High court and I think every court be it family court, consumer court, or others too should strive for the same.
What advice would you like to give to the law students who are anxious about choosing career paths?
Law students, particularly in their five years of integrated courses, are concerned, I have experienced that students coming from National Law University have a different perception of law as a field and they are of the opinion that litigation is a tiresome job so they prefer corporate jobs rather than practising in courts. Studying law on theoretical basis is in itself different from practical practice. So my message to law students is that if they are pursuing a 5 year integrated course and that too after spending a lot of amount they have second thought to go into a corporate job, it’s not a good idea altogether. I would sincerely advice and rather request all the students to consider litigation as a practice rather than a job as the diversity you would be getting in this stream would be totally lacking in the area of the Corporate Sector.
Apart from that one thing I would like to share with the readers is that being a lawyer is in itself a blessing as far as a community is concerned. A lawyer has power, command, knowledge, and confidence of clients so one has to act and fulfill all these duties by virtue of our conduct and behaviour. One should not misuse this confidence, power, and knowledge in any negative way. In this area of practice, one has to be very humble and polite. As it is rightly said that with power there comes greater responsibility coupled with risks as well, so it is the duty of a lawyer to contribute something good to the society at large. You have to treat your colleagues and teammates very nicely as they are the part of the legal fraternity and are contributing equally to the growth of the team and the industry at large.
As a student, you need all the advice you can get when choosing a career. Law as a profession in itself is a very diverse field, and there is a lot of uncertainty about which career path will suit you the best. My advice to law students is to try your level best to explore the diverse field of law in your academics as it will provide you with various options from which you can select the specific areas of your interest. Further, I would like to add that take procedural laws like C.P.C, Cr.P.C. and Evidence very seriously and be well versed with their applicability at the ground level. Since physical restraints are no longer valid due to live streaming of the Court proceedings, one should make good use of such online hearing platforms and should listen to the arguments put forth by counsels before Court. Observing the senior counsel arguing before the court on the latest developments in law is always the best way to understand the contemporary issues of the law.