Mr. G.N Sahewalla, talks about his journey as lawyer to the Founder of S.G Law Plus, one of the oldest and first firms of north-east. He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Stuti Dwivedy who is currently pursuing law from NLUJAA.
- First of all, the team EBC- SCC Online extends warm welcome to Mr. G.N Sahewalla sir, before proceeding further with the interview would you please take a moment to tell our readers about yourself and your journey to the inception of S.G Law Plus?
I was in the legal profession since February 1978. I started my practice from Sivasagar, Assam wherein I practiced for one year and thereafter I started my Practice under late J.P Bhattacharya, senior advocate and thereafter I shifted to late N.M. Lahiri, senior advocate. In the year 1997, I set up my own chamber at my home and subsequently in the Year 1999, I designated as senior advocate by the Gauhati high court. In the year 2000, I had set up S.G. Law plus.
- So, what was your vision before setting up a law firm of your own and how far have you achieved it?
Since there was no registered law firm in the north east, I wanted to set up one as an example, so that some other may set up more firms. Many lawyers here have set up a combined practice by giving a name to their office. However, my vision for setting up a law firm was not only for the legal profession but I have also trained many juniors for the profession and have also done many other educational programs as moot court competition (interstate), seminars etc. for the law students.
Buckling up for a new venture has never been easy, so were there any initial setbacks, what were the major obstacles that you have faced in your journey?
Since I was in the legal profession from February 1978 and as there were some juniors in my chamber at my home, I did not face any setback or any other obstacles after setting up the firm at Surya tower, Ulubari.
- How much of these impediments have been overcome by you and how far do you think you have been able to match up the level of expectations of the people owing to the fact that you are one of the oldest law firms in the north east.
In fact my law firm in its initial days had conducted many moot court competition, seminars etc, the law firm became very popular. I also feel that one should do some work for the society and since I am doing many things for the law students and budding lawyers and in fact a number of law apprentice are always there in my law firm and my firm had trained maximum number of students. Moreover, my law firm is dealing in all types of cases so that one litigant may get all the services that one need under one roof.
- Since you started everything from the scratch, with no previous background or massive public awareness about law firms back in those times, what do you assess were your biggest fortitudes and shortcomings?
Although I had no previous background of law firm, since I was already an established lawyer, I did not face any difficulty and in fact many corporate litigants also approached the law firm and they were satisfied with the work performed by the law firm.
- Since you are a veteran now, how do you coordinate your work with the younger staff mainly the associates and interns?
I know my partners, associates capacity to take load and in what subject they can do the work properly and accordingly I allot the work subject to them and it is necessary that all the partners, associates must give me feedback regarding the progress either in drafting or any other matter.
- What do you think is the x-factor that sets SG Law Plus apart from its other contemporaries?
Since there is no registered law firm to my knowledge in this region, S.G. LAW PLUS is a name not only known to the litigants and public but also to the law students as many of them are eager of doing internships with the law firm, many of the students are from all over India.
- Since you are an already established law firm, what are the set of do’s and don’ts would you like to give the younger generation who aim to set up a law firm?
First one must know about the partners, associates and interns regarding their knowledge, capacity and subject where they can do the work and allotment of work should be made accordingly. Further everybody should be given a training on soft skills as the clients should be treated properly as otherwise they may not stick to a particular firm. Moreover, training must be given as to how to work in a law firm.
- Also what are your thoughts about personality development and continuing legal education for the existing lawyers, how far do you consider these factors as momentous for their personal growth?
Personality development and continuous legal education are very important. I always give guidance to the associates of the firm. I as a Chairman of the Bar Council of the North East held one seminar and one of the topic was “Continuous Legal Education” where several vice chancellors of the law universities of India delivered lectures and the program was inaugurated by the then President of India His Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
- Soft skills like networking and interdisciplinary skills are regarded crucial for someone who is in the legal field as they have a jam-packed schedule and they also have to balance both their personal and professional lives, how far do you personally envisage these factors are imperative to someone in the field of law?
Soft skills is very much necessary for everybody and it is very much necessary for the lawyers especially in the budding stage. In colleges, students learn technical skills or hard skills. Time management is also necessary and lawyers have to manage their schedule in such a manner that there will not be any difficulty to maintain the schedule given to the clients. Moreover, behavior with the clients and other colleagues is also essential.
- You already deal in domains of corporate law, IPR, Competition law, taxation, environment and health laws and so on, do you think post-covid era will bring about changes in the range of law that your firm currently deals with and what will be your firm’s future strategies and objectives once we resume back to the new normal post-covid lifestyle?
I don’t think there will be any major change in the law in the post-COVID era. The government may give more importance to the health sector. Epidemics will always be there in some form or the other but after a sometime this pandemic COVID-19 will go as well. People will be more conscious for cleanliness and proper sanitization.
- Lastly, would you tell our readers about your hobbies and spend your time outside law, Also could you give us a sneak peek into your life apart from your work?
My hobby is to read books outside law and to travel to different places. Moreover, i enjoy going to wildlife sanctuaries and see may places of the world including watching wildlife in the television.
- Any parting message to our readers?
To be a successful lawyer, it is necessary to do the hard work but hard work is to be applied properly and more intelligently and in an organized manner. Effective thinking is an art and it must be kept alive by constant practice and use. A good professional should reflect:
- Confidence without arrogance.
- Friendliness without being over friendly.
- Expertise without the “I know it all” attitude.
- Commitment to integrity and civility.