Lawyered in conversation with Adv. Tushar Kumar where he shoots the breeze of his journey from his Law school to mark the beginning of Chambers of Tushar.
Please introduce yourself to our readers
I am an Advocate based in New Delhi practising across various Courts/Tribunals/Commissions including but not limited to the Supreme Court of India, High Court of Delhi, National Company Law Tribunal, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Delhi District Courts, etc.
My areas of practice include Commercial Litigation, Arbitration, Restructuring and Insolvency, Real Estate, Employment and Compensation. Industries to which I have catered to include Consumer Goods & Retail; Energy, Mining, and Infrastructure; Financial Institutions; Healthcare; Hotels, Resorts and Tourism; Industries, Manufacturing and Transportation; Private Equity; Real Estate; Technology, Media, and Telecommunications. I have been fortunate enough to have made extensive appearances in the Indian Courts at all levels, and in international arbitration/commercial matters for and against MSME's, Real Estate Developers, Multinational Hospitals, Fortune 500 companies, leading household names etc.
What considerations guided you towards carving out a niche for yourself in arbitration, negotiation and IPR?
Both ADR and IPR have intrigued me ever since I stepped into the field of law. Both add tremendous value to society. Court battles, even those which last a short period, are exceedingly expensive. Resolving any conflicts via this method can cause serious financial loss, especially if the issue is complex. To give you an idea of how much you can save, ADR-based mediation of a dispute at Chevron cost $25,000, whereas going to court would have cost as much as $2.5 million over three to five years! Similarly, Intellectual property protection is critical to fostering innovation. Without the protection of ideas, businesses and individuals would not reap the full benefits of their inventions and would focus less on research and development.
What is the relevance of an Internship in a Law student’s career?
Law students and internships tend to go hand in hand. Interning is not just specific or important to law students exclusively, either. An internship of any sort offers students an introduction to what can be a very competitive workforce for many potential careers; in many cases, they may be interning in large firms or corporations and have access to mentoring from key players. Interns are usually given special projects to complete during what may be a short amount of time while they are out of school for vacations or the summer.
The classroom experience is further solidified during the internship through actual work experience, along with exposure to a variety of different people in the workplace and clients—some of whom may not always be easy to deal with! And while law school may be tough, and the schedule demanding, working in a law firm during an internship can be doubly so—offering a taste of the discipline that will be required later, along with teaching new skills that interns can share on their resumes.
Since you are a first-generation lawyer, how would you guide the new advocates especially the struggle they face to get their foot through the door in a litigation career, especially where they have no support or “contacts”
Being a first-generation lawyer, I learned that in an industry that is brimming with competition, the biggest challenge and priority is client satisfaction. The paramount strategy to retain quality clients for an independent first-generation lawyer is delivering results in a manner as cost-effective as possible. A result-oriented approach always goes a long way in every professional’s life. Personally, my practice is based upon three vital pillars which are honesty, integrity and dedication. Another thing I learned is that it is pertinent to always remember that there is no substitute whatsoever for hard work. Lastly, a mindset to never settle is what young lawyers must adapt to.
What according to you are the 3 skills that are essential for any advocate to learn?
A) Good communication skills
Lawyers must be orally articulate, have good written communication skills and also be good listeners. To argue convincingly in the courtroom before juries and judges, good public speaking skills are essential. Communication and speaking skills can be developed during your studies by taking part in activities such as mooting or general public speaking. Lawyers must also be able to write, persuasively and concisely, as they must produce a variety of legal documents. But it’s not all about projection. To be able to analyse what clients tell them or follow a complex testimony, a lawyer must have good listening skills.
The ability to draw reasonable, logical conclusions or assumptions from limited information is essential as a lawyer. You must also be able to consider these judgements critically so that you can anticipate potential areas of weakness in your argument that must be fortified against. Similarly, you must be able to spot points of weakness in an opposition's argument. Decisiveness is also a part of the judgement. There will be a lot of important judgement calls to make and little time for sitting on the fence.
C) Analytical skills
Both the study and practice of law involve absorbing large quantities of information, then having to distil it into something manageable and logical. At times, there will be more than one reasonable conclusion, or more than one precedent applicable to resolving a situation. A lawyer must therefore have the evaluative skills to choose which is the most suitable.
Any advice, for the law students who are at the inceptive part of their journey?
a) Never doubt yourself! Of course, you should ask questions when you have them, but you should also have faith in your education and intellect. You have the training, you passed the bar, and you are just as much an attorney as a partner who is 30 years in practice. Own it!
b) Prioritize self-care. Ensure that you have developed positive coping mechanisms. Take intentional time for yourself every day—be it hitting the gym, meditation, yoga or a walk outside the office.
c) Take ownership. Act like you are the only person responsible for the project and treat it as if you are preparing the final product for submission. If you take ownership of your assignments, you will succeed. You’re going to spend the rest of your life trying to convince people they should take your word for things. It’s easier to convince people you’re right if they’ve learned you will admit it when you’re wrong.
e) Never burn your bridges! People leave workplaces all the time—and encounter each other at different stages of their careers.
f) Find what works for you. Remember that the mountains of advice everyone are eager to give you is filtered through the lens of their own experience. Identify what brings you joy in the workplace, and work with your seniors and mentors to build on those experiences.