In conversation with Vivek Shetty, Partner at AZB & Partners, on his Odyssey in the Field of Dispute Resolution

Dispute Resolution

Vivek Shetty is a Partner in the Mumbai office of AZB & Partners. He has about 14 years’ experience in manifold areas of law and specialises in dispute resolution. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Law from Government Law College, Mumbai University in the year 2008 and successfully cleared the solicitor’s exam (Bombay Incorporated Law Society) in the year 2012.

The main focus of his practice has been dispute resolution pertaining to insolvency and bankruptcy and securities law. He has been involved in complex and high value disputes in this sector.

He has been interviewed by Shambhavi Anand, EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing law from Amity Law School, Lucknow.

Q1. Please share with our readers something about yourself, your journey in the profession and your formative years.

Law was not a natural choice for me. I belong to a family involved in business and I am the first in my family to have worked in the service industry. I was decent with my academics and as hence, managed to get in Government Law College. The other option for a commerce graduate at that point in time was Chartered Accountancy, but the perception which was created for giving the CA exam was that one would end up giving attempts after attempts. Therefore, I opted for law. As my father is into politics, I was keen on doing law which would also eventually help me shape my career in politics.

That was the idea, but during my first year of law I met a relative of mine who works at a reputed law firm and he suggested that I should consider taking up internships and articleships in order to gain some practical experience. I joined DSK Legal, Mumbai as an articled clerk from where I cleared my Solicitors as well. At DSK Legal, I started working with the real estate team. However, thereafter got an opportunity to work for a litigation matter. Once I started doing litigation there was no looking back. I like litigation as the work is never monotonous and one would have an occasion to learn something new every day. Altogether, the journey has been a good roller-coaster ride and I wish the journey continues the same way.

Q2. What motivated you to pursue a career in the legal field and not in politics? Moreover, what were the difficulties and most important lessons which you came across in your journey from being a law student to a partner at AZB & Partners?

Politics require you to dedicate a lot of time. For instance, organising a blood donation camp would require you to be personally present there. After my first year in law school, I had joined DSK Legal, where the working hours would be normally long. Therefore, I barely had any time left to focus on anything else. At first I thought that I may get time to get involved in politics, but when I started my articleship I realised that I enjoy law and the applicability of mind in the ever-evolving field of law was shaping me nicely as a professional. Thus, I chose to pursue law over my ambition to pursue a career in politics.

In terms of the difficulties in my journey, as I mentioned earlier that I come from a business family background. Since childhood the idea was to get involved in the family business. Therefore, it was not easy for me to understand the professional expectations of a law firm, which involved a lot of unlearning process. Additionally, the technological challenge as I was not very good with computers and could not type fast. Therefore, when asked to draft a document, I would take assistance of a steno, which helped me in developing a skill of dictating drafts which is extremely helpful for a lawyer. As I am a first lawyer from my family, I had no contacts in the industry, which makes it more challenging than others to create a name for you in this fraternity. However, a strong will to do well has helped me to deal with the above challenges, amongst others.

Q3. What was the driving force which made you explore the field of dispute resolution and litigation? Furthermore, since you have been in this field for 14 years now, so according to you what are the set of skills which are necessary to grow in this field and what shall be the key focus areas?

I started my career with real estate and I realised that somewhere down the line it became monotonous for me. Today, I am doing matters in Small Causes Court, City Civil Court, Bombay High Court, Supreme Court, National Green Tribunal, Competition Commission of India, Securities Appellate Tribunal, Securities Exchange Board of India, etc. and am dealing with so many different areas of law. This is what excites me as every matter brings a new challenge, teaches me something new and forces me to think deep. I remember, doing matters for two different clients, where you are trying to interpret a provision of law differently for both clients. This is where litigation makes you think differently.

In order to excel in the field of dispute resolution and litigation (or for that matter any other branch of law) one should be hardworking, dedicated and focused. As an articled clerk, we were taught to make our own set of propositions based on our reading of the papers/proceedings, conduct research and circulate the material to every member of the team. So, if you are involved in a matter, do not wait for your senior to tell you what is to be done, instead be focused, own up the matter, inculcate the leadership skills and prepare beforehand based on what you think can be helpful for the matter. The most important mantra which I have always followed and will keep following is that “one should keep trying”. When you do that, you either win or lose, but you will never fail. Moreover, it is important that a junior focuses on his knowledge building as a priority and not think much about the monetary compensation in the formative years.

Q4. What are your cherished success stories and memorable litigation?

The most cherished moments for me are when I cleared my Solicitors, when I was first hired as an associate and when I was admitted to partnership. For me to reach here there was a lot which went into it not only from my end but also from my family’s end. In the background, lot of sacrifices were made and hence my family feels more proud of my achievements than what I do. The same is the reason why I say that these are the moments which I cherish the most because effectively it is the family’s wish which came true. There is one moment in my career which I will always remember. I was involved for a matter to advise Mr Sachin Tendulkar and we could successfully represent him, which was personally very satisfactory for me. Have always been a huge fan of the little master and to meet him personally as an advisor was probably the biggest high point of my career.

Q5. Can you please share with our readers any personal thing or trait which you enjoy about yourself?

I love playing cricket, football and in fact any games (but for indoor games) interest me a lot. One would see the same amount of passion in me when I am playing as when I am working. I never do anything half-heartedly and I think this is something which has always helped me in my life. Even if you ask me to play a sport which I have never played in my life, you will not see me going there and not giving my best. The other thing which I am obsessed about is going to the gym and working out. I need my one/two hours of exercise everyday and I do not remember the last day when I had missed my training. In terms of personal traits, I am extremely stubborn when it comes to achieving something and will give my heart and soul for it. I will always do things passionately and with all seriousness. I am confident and always believe in my abilities to do well in any situation. Moreover, I am a huge bollywood fan.

Q7. What does “exhaustion of research” mean to you and how much, according to you, is the impact of it in the field of litigation?

In my opinion there should not be any restrictions in terms of how much one can look at. As a team we will be a much improved set if we have done an exhaustive research. The reason being, we would have looked at the ratio, we would have looked at the proposition which we are targeting and also looked at the laws which are incidental to the proposition that we are targeting. Thus, in future if situation demands of you a research data which is incidental to the proposition that you were earlier researching on, then the team would be ready with the data that was researched earlier, subject of course to further research. At the end of the day, if you have done your research properly, you will have a clear mindset as to what is the proposition to target and will be able to give a clear and meticulous answer to the client. Therefore, research has to be exhaustive.

Q8. What are the key attributes and skills which AZB & Partners consider while hiring an associate and what are the most important points and activities which a law student should focus on, if he/she wants to start his/her career with a law firm?

In terms of the attributes that AZB & Partners or for that matter any other professional law firm would generally look for while hiring juniors is academics, your internship experiences and most importantly how dedicated and focused were you when you worked as an intern for a short period (normally a month). Whether you were always available when the team required you to be and could work well with the team and whether you have the urge/hunger to work and learn.

Q9. How much importance would you attach to proper legal research at an undergraduate level and the tools used for doing it? How should law students equip themselves with legal research skills?

I would say that this is one of the most important tool or weapon which you are creating for yourself when you actually go into the real world and start practising as a lawyer. Therefore, if your research skills are good, I would say that fifty per cent of your job is done. At any age, if your research skills are good you tend to work more efficiently and effectively.

From my experience, SCC Online has been immensely helpful. Even as a student, I preferred using SCC Online. I found the software to be extremely user friendly and has the best image quality, which is why even Judges prefer to read judgments printed from SCC Online. I remember, as a student, one of my priced possessions was the SCC key which I had bought around sometime in 2008-2009.

Q10. Any advice which you would like to give to our readers?

One should be true to oneself. Whether you are in the legal profession or any other profession, the focus should be more on learning than on earning, at least in your formative years. As long as you are focused on learning everything else will follow. As you grow in life, try and become more humble. Life is unpredictable, and you never know what is in store for you. Never burn your bridges with anyone. Try and work with a smile even when stressed. It surely helps is dealing better with stress. Last but not the least, always make time for exercise.

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