In conversation with Moiz K. Rafique, Managing Partner, Privy Legal Service LLP on his journey to law school and starting his own Law firm

Mr. Moiz Rafique is a graduate from Nirma University with Hons focused on Constitutional Law in the year 2014. He completed his Masters, securing first rank, in Space and Telecommunication Law in 2017 from NALSAR University of Law and his Masters in Law in Security and Defence Law in 2021, from NALSAR University of Law. He started his own firm, Privy Legal Service LLP in Ahemdabad, Gujarat in 2017.

 

He has been interviewed by Khushbu Sood, Student Campus Ambassador, Himachal Pradesh National Law University

  1. To begin with, if I may request you to please share with our readers something about yourself, your journey in the profession and your early years.

I started my career quite traditionally. I had done various internships during law school with law firms and Senior Counsels, so by the time I graduated I had a plan about how I wanted to build my profile. Firstly, I started by appearing before different subordinate courts across Gujarat. This initial investment helped me understand trial advocacy, procedural rules and gave me much needed exposure. I simultaneously also focused on learning core drafting and I started extensively reading, perusing, and practising drafting of all forms of petitions and pleadings before different courts. Once I was confident that, I had garnered some reasonable exposure and understanding of the law, I then decided to also appear before the High Court. Given that knowledge plays a key role in determining your success in the field of law, I carved my way ahead in a manner that allowed me to first focus on developing a comprehensive understanding of the law. I feel this approach gave me a valuable understanding of relevant topics and allowed me to effectively present legal arguments before courts, gain confidence of my seniors and thereby build up a reliable practice by providing practical solutions to my clients’ legal conundrum.

  1. What inclined you towards the field of legal education? Do you remember any specific incident that made you choose law as a career?

For me, the legal profession was an accidental but a happy discovery. Since my childhood, I had aspired to join the Indian Air Force, however due to some challenges I was forced to drop the said idea. When I started looking for the next best thing for me, I remembered my grandfather, who hailed from the same profession, and was inspired by the tales of his fearless stint as a Judge. I signed up for training classes, and a couple of sessions into it, felt that I had made the right decision. It also helped that few of my close friends also decided to study law.

  1. How did your law school experience shape you? Please also share your interests and motivations. How did it help you navigate your career path?

 

Since law was not my first choice, I was extremely particular about selecting my law school. I wanted my college experience to be a holistic experience, allowing me to engage in legal vocational training exercises as well as providing a competitive environment, motivating me to absorb everything that a legal student’s life has to offer. Hence, I joined Institute of Law Nirma University in 2009, which was by far the best decision that I made. I have always been an outgoing and interactive person, and that helped mein law school to reach out to different people to learn the different co-curriculars involved in a law student’s life. In school, I was more into sports and never participated in public speaking events. However, in law school, I received great support from my family, batchmates, seniors and faculty members to participate in debating and mooting competitions. With each passing competition, I became more confident and desirous of participating in more of such events. Also, we were encouraged to balance our academic knowledge along with professional experiences through internships. Looking back, law school was such a well-rounded experience that it has set the standards for everything I do in life. I have learnt to push the boundaries and overcome any obstacle I may face. Some of the best lessons of law school for me are honing my people skills, learning to manage a team to achieve results and developing a never give up attitude. They have helped me sustain in extremely tiring times.

  1. How has your experience shaped you into the professional you are today? How do you think your keen commercial sense has helped starting your own firm, Privy Legal Service LLP?

 

Any new start-up faces its own challenges and issues, it was the same for me. However, after five years of rigorous training at Nirma, giving up does not come so easily. Moreover, I am extremely blessed in having seniors who have guided me in my initial years and continue to provide valuable inputs even today. As mentioned before, I had put sufficient emphasis on legal knowledge and practical understanding of the law. My seniors have further guided me to add practical application to whatever I was reading as a value addition to my work. By and large the idea has always been to think of a practical solution which has been missing in common practice and incorporating them in your legal advice to strengthen your practice. When I started practising regularly, I felt this was value addition to each assignment can form the distinguishing basis for a fruitful practice. Thus, Privy Legal Service LLP was born.

  1. Starting your own firm is a hardworking and tiresome task, do you think it is important to have some specialisation or should there be generalist approach?

 

While starting out, it is very important to maintain a generalist approach and try your hand in different practice areas. It gives one the opportunity to sharpen their skills in different sectors and thereafter make a more informed decision of specialising in a particular area of law, if that appeals to you. I started privy legal in 2014, and it was a conscious choice to not limit the kind of work the firm should undertake. While I personally intend to develop a niche practice for myself, with the influx of new talent, who all come with their own skillset and talent, I think it is not appropriate for a firm to limit itself from dabbing into different practices. It is a principle I hope to follow till I head privy legal. While I still feel the firm is in its nascent stage and hopefully growing, I have quickly learnt to disassociate myself with words like “hardworking” and “tiresome” since I feel its hampers the process of firm building. In my opinion, firm building is all about consistency and delivery of results and every other feeling is ancillary when you see your firm taking great strides.

  1. The space and telecommunication law and security and defence law are some of the emerging legal ideas and not much is written about it. Being your masters’ subjects, what is your take on such untouched aspects of law?

 

These are surely less explored sectors of law but even otherwise there is much development that is taking place in these areas. With change in policies, the private sector has been allowed to participate in these sectors and have subsequently opened doors for independent policymakers and for regulatory litigation also. Considering the futuristic opportunities, one should always stay prepared as these sectors are technologically driven and, in the future, these sectors shall largely decide many facets of day-to-day human activities. We have already seen the impact on society and the kind of opportunities the growth of the telecommunication sector has presented. There are very few private entities who are already working towards the integration of their outer space technology and telecommunication business and other permutations based on their capabilities, which will also have a relative spillover of opportunities for such professionals. With the kind of interest and development in these sectors, these are the next big things to keep an eye out for.

  1. Since your recent achievement, please share your experience of being awarded 40 under 40 Rising Star Awards 2021 hosted by Legal Era-Legal Media Group.

I am really happy to have received the Legal Era Award; sincerely it would not have been possible without having support from my team and family. After graduating there are very less opportunities for litigating lawyers to test their capabilities beyond the courts, therefore receiving such an award is not just thrilling but is also very motivating to never let our guard down and excel again. While it is exciting to be recognised by externals, I would like to humbly say these awards gives an additional edge to measure professional success only to a very limited extent.

  1. What, according to you, has changed/modified in law, both in statutes and in the society?

 

Law goes by time and tide, evolution in law has been a necessity and the same has not stopped at just statutes but has extended its reach into impacting the mindset and attitude of societies as well. Law in modern times is steered through a government holding majoritarian support; and in present times it has been quite obvious that the Government has been making exceptional changes in almost all walks of society. From its social dynamics to its economic functionalities the present Government has achieved various landmarks by not limiting itself to the definition of law, but widely interpreting it and making it inclusive of the precedents as rendered by judicial outcomes and also consequently through judicial activism as well. In the last couple of years Supreme Court has rendered catena of judgments altering many social practices, norms and traditions; bringing a fair sense of understanding that in a democratic set up everything has its own space but will be subservient to the rule of law and nothing can stand taller than the law of the land. There have been several amendments to statutory provisions which have helped to ensure proper operation and execution of “due process of law”. With legal activism resulting in change/formation of new laws and policies, India has transcended into the league of developed economies and has realigned its legal functionalities accordingly.

  1. How do you think that the pandemic has affected the working of law and what challenges are, currently, being faced by the judiciary?

Indian judiciary has performed exceptionally well in the given circumstances, the kind of immediate changes made in terms of filing and carrying out procedural hearings has shown the civic society that “judicial administration” and “judicial process” will be carried out to serve the society at large, no matter what the situation. More than the advocates, our Judges have shown their keenness to adopt the technological changes and have rolled out a series of procedures which make it far easier for not just the litigants but also the advocates to participate in an ongoing judicial process. I practice mostly before the Gujarat High Court, which in present times has shown remarkable adaptive strength by introducing various reforms like integrating additional technological platforms with the available ones, new e-stamping mechanism and the very recent virtual justice clock. Hence it can be fairly said that the judiciary has owned up and has ensured expeditious delivery of justice even during pandemic.

  1. Not many people are familiar with the concept “exhaustion of a search”. What are your views on it?

“Exhaustion of a search” is fair statement made by which any search or quest to achieve a desired result based on a test or a hypothesis is put to an end. Its technically an academic term which is mostly used as a stereotypical connotation to make the final address while summing an exercise of search. Whereas the said statement would bear different sense of understanding for research methodologies as adopted by legal practitioners then that as commonly exercised by academicians; as a legal practitioner would ensure to be more crisp and precise with the most relevant data to share by far through legal precedents and would only extend research to other sources considering subject implications and limitation of material precedents, on the other hand a legal academician would be desirous to extensively access all relevant resources on hand to assess material question of research. Its also pertinent to note that the said statement “exhaustion of a search” is made with a higher responsibility bearing in mind that presentation of end result would stand as an estoppel without further verifications.

  1. What advice would you like to give students of law in a post-COVID era where students are anxious about choosing career paths?

COVID has forced us to challenge our understanding of traditional legal practices and quickly adapt with the changing world. The post-COVID era may very well end up being a hybrid world, where this dependence on technology can end up being a boon for students and young legal practitioners. Since physical/geographical restraints may no longer be valid, students should make use of the online hearing platforms and listen in to arguments put forth by counsels before different courts/tribunals. Observing seniors at the bar argue the latest developments in law is always the best way to understand the pressing issues of the day. One can also make the most out of online lectures offered by different universities and associations and invest time in writing and publishing papers. It is important to remember that everyone’s success in this field is ultimately based on their legal knowledge and the way it is applied to resolve disputes. Hence, no matter the restrictions, one must focus more on learning opportunities rather than be bogged down by peer pressure or competition. As it is famously said, opportunity comes to those who are prepared.

  1. Any advice you would like to give to the readers of SCC Blog? Apart from this is there anything else that you would like to share with the readers of SCC Online?

 

I want to share a piece of advice for all those who wish to step into litigation, that one should stay as flexible as possible during their initial years and adapt and learn about both civil and criminal proceedings and laws as much as possible. It is with time that you will be able to identify your niche, but till then one must be open to every opportunity that comes to you. By nurturing such an inclusive temperament, one would be able to connect with the profession and with seniors in a manner which will boost your overall development in the field of law and allow you to make informed decisions about your practice strengths.

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