Mr Joshi in this exclusive interview with Krishnendra Joshi takes us down memory lane and talks about his amazing journey as a lawyer, challenges law firms are currently grappling with, his vision for Veritas Legal and much more
Mr Joshi, it is an honour to be interviewing you and I’d like to begin by asking you to kindly take us down memory lane. Would you please share with us what inspired you to become a lawyer? Where were the seeds of this illustrious journey sown and how have you seen the industry evolve over the years?
Unfortunately, in India, students are required to select a profession at an early stage when sometimes they are not even clear as to what they are good at or what is their calling in life. Therefore, it would be wrong to say that there were some deep motivations at the age of 20 for me to choose law as a profession. Having said that, I was always inquisitive, liked logic-based solutions and was not really motivated by mathematics or science. Given the case, the law was a logical choice, and I was lucky enough to like what I chose.
My father passed away when I was very young and all our properties went into disputes. As a result, at a very young age (school days) unfortunately, I had to interact with lawyers along with my mother. It probably had a counter effect, i.e. me not wanting to take up law! So, while I studied law, I never intended to become a lawyer. After trying my hand at a few things, I realized that the unplanned training I got during my childhood, had probably made me more attuned towards the profession and ultimately I decided to pursue it as a career. There is no one in my family who has been a lawyer and I was told at that time (in the early 1990s) that this might be a serious impediment. Needless to say, I realized that if you have merit and are willing to work hard, there are no real impediments.
The profession is a completely different place now than from the time I started. However, I think it has not moved at the same pace as some other industries have. Foreign Law Firms are still not allowed and, competition, as in some of the other sectors, is yet to emerge. I think, in the next decade, we will continue to see the profession evolve.
It is often said that success is easy to achieve but difficult to sustain. What has helped you build and sustain your success over a prolonged period? Did you face any hurdles in the initial years? How did you power through the problems?
I do not perceive myself as immensely successful, there are roads yet to travel and things yet to achieve. Sustenance will come thereafter! However, the journey has been tremendously satisfying and that is success in itself.
There are difficulties that I may have faced in the years gone by, but I would not call them hurdles, as, in a career spanning over 25 years, there are going to be difficult patches. However, if one continues to concentrate on the work, a pro-active approach and a good work ethic, then over a period of time, things would follow.
You have been an inspirational figure in the legal industry. Who has been your guiding light in your journey and how? Who are the people you have admired and looked up to?
Whether people derive inspiration from me or not is for them to judge. I hope that I continue to motivate myself on a daily basis and look forward to every new day at work. I have worked and interacted with many stalwarts in the industry. Equally, I have interacted with many bright young lawyers over the years. I have derived and benefitted from each such interaction. These interactions, at times, taught me what to do and, at times, taught me what not to do. I stand to be enriched by all these interactions.
How have client expectations changed amid the global pandemic? How has your experience been with regards to virtual client servicing?
I think client expectations have remained the same and rightly so. I do not think servicing clients remotely is a problem, but the challenge is internal, in terms of keeping human resources motivated and productively engaged. Servicing of clients in clinical terms continues seamlessly. Some clients can be opportunistic and ask for a favourable fee arrangement, but most of the quality clients have been more than reasonable and understanding in these times.
Your firm was the recipient of the Pharma Law Firm of the Year Award at the inaugural BW Legal World Summit. What according to you has been the hallmark of Veritas Legal that has made the firm a leading name in the industry over the years? What does an ideal law firm in the near future look like according to you?
Ultimately, quality and availability of senior bandwidth for matters will distinguish one from the other. We have been ruthlessly disciplined about these aspects. We have sacrificed growth at the altar of quality and will continue to do so. As I have said earlier, we would like to go deeper as opposed to wider and to be true to our value system. The rest will follow.
Veritas Legal still has miles to go. We will try our very best to strive, to stay close to our beliefs and value systems and the vision we have for the firm. I do not think there is something like an ideal law firm, as it is a very subjective concept. All firms have something good about them and if they concentrate and enhance that factor, I think the firm will get better and better with time.
What will be your one message to young and aspiring lawyers looking to build a thriving career as a corporate lawyer? What are the qualities you would like to see in them?
When I started my career, someone gave me a quote which went as under:
“Don’t learn the tricks of the trade – learn the trade”. I do not think that I can summarize my advice any better.