Ms Prachi Pratap counsels, advises, represents her clients on legal affairs in relation to civil and criminal, company, IBC, service, matrimonial, property and land acquisition matters, arbitration and debt recovery. She strongly believes in spreading legal awareness among the citizens and has conducted various seminars for the same. She has actively participated in promoting United Nations’ Girl Up Campaign. Her webinar on cyber law is highly recommended by High Court of Telangana for judicial officers and has also co-authored a book called Corporate Women’s Little Diary. She has also made it to the Forbes India Legal Powerlist 2021 Top 100 Individual Lawyers and is also a TEDx speaker. She has recently become a Section Member of American Bar Association.
1. What was the driving force behind choosing law as a career? Please elaborate the experience in the initial years of your journey.
I pursued a degree in History Hons., followed by an MBA, and then an LLB from Lucknow University. For me, studying law and motherhood went hand in glove. I even flew with my three-day old daughter to take my law exams. Initially, the driving force for law was to be able to understand the basics of law. I had previously worked with NGOs and also as a social entrepreneur working with locals in remote parts of the country. I have noticed a fear of system that exists in masses, a pseudo fear of being punished for false complaints, an apprehension to complain to police for any wrongs, since the general masses are still afraid of being caught in labyrinth of legal system. So eventually, I embraced it as a career, though I still do talks, lectures, podcasts, etc. to extend legal awareness to all.
2. How is law as a career for women? Being a mother, how have you been able to maintain work-life balance?
Work-life balance is hyped: there is usually a swing in one or the other direction. I enjoy what I do. Being a mother is not a job but a responsibility that I chose. Both at work and personal front, there are chaotic moments in a largely serene day, and vice versa. The most important part is how long do we let a moment linger. We learn from women around us. Approach the experienced women in any field, including your own mothers and sisters for guidance for whatever is a roadblock. Recently, my daughter had an injury and I took time off, though I had my family for support. It is always about prioritising what needs your attention most in the moment. Also, it is most important to do as much in a timely manner as possible. Both the domestic and work front need a to-do list, but in the order of priority. Also, rest is important, a little downtime goes a long way in recharging.
3. Recently, you conducted a certificate course on public interest litigation (PIL) drafting.
We conducted this certificate course which was organised by the Rotary Club and as a constant supporter of causes related to legal awareness, I devote myself to such activities.
4. Recently, you have materialised your vision of becoming Section Member of the American Bar Association. What was the course of action that you planned for the same, what were the major challenges you faced while accomplishing your goal? How has your experience been so far?
It is important to network with lawyers in India and abroad, that is why I joined the American Bar Association. It has given me access to continued professional development, which is insightful. Also, it gives the opportunity to connect with lawyers across continents.
So, for instance, you have a lead in United States for, say a corporate matter or a matrimonial case, or domestic violence, you can connect with a lawyer in the United States through the Bar Association network. This is especially good for law firms. For Indian lawyers who have not cleared Bar in United States, they can still work as foreign law consultant. Few law firms have offerings for this position also, which is limited to advising and consulting about law of your country. One needs to first procure the licence for foreign legal consultant.
As an associate with American Bar Association, it is easier to connect with fellow professionals in the United States, especially if you wish to eventually practice there or have associates there. In times of globalisation, especially in a post-Covid world, it is extremely important to be connected to co-professionals everywhere. I have few good associates in United States who handle cases in United States whether criminal, civil or corporate matters. The experience so far has been good , the only drawback might be working at odd hours.
5. You have been helping the underprivileged by taking up pro bono cases. Please provide our readers with some free legal aid tools available to the public that can be used to ensure equal justice and access to legal services.
An important aspect of my choices is to use whatever tools you have to for larger good. Two ways I can suggest for helping others is:
(i) Do free legal aid cases: Even if the aid extends to only consultation, because not everyone can afford to pay for such cases. It has two benefits. Often frivolous litigation happens when a person is misguided. Many issues can be resolved without litigation, and sometimes, people only need proper guidance. Then, there are many a times people do not approach courts since they are afraid of the labyrinth of legal system. People are not even aware of their rights. I have come across people who have felt dejected even with legal aid and have come to seek help. It is important to do “pro bono”.
(ii) Spread legal awareness: It is much needed. I have myself given free lectures & talks at many places. Even spreading awareness via videos, podcasts, articles is an amazing way to spread a word about one’s rights, basic and daily changes in law.
6. To realise the pledge at COP26, India recently made a five-point commitment in its pursuit of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030. Being a certified honouree of Climate Change International Legal Regime by United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in 2021, what’s your take on that?
It is a big commitment, especially for an economy like India. Net-zero emission is obtained when there is a balance between greenhouse gases put into atmosphere and those taken out. As per Paris Agreement, net-zero emission goal for 2030 is to reduce by 45%. So, India is up for a monumental task to achieve 100% net-zero emission goal. It is doable by shifting more towards renewable energy sources and more carbon sinks like afforestation. To begin with big fossil fuel emitting companies, which can be held more accountable by redirecting focus of CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities also towards zero carbon goals.
7. Having authored and co-authored many articles and books like “Crypto Crimes: India Needs Ammo to Counter the Rising Dock” and “The Corporate Women’s Little Diary”, according to you how important is it for law students to publish articles/books?
It is important for law students, like other professionals, to publish articles and contribute towards academia. Writing involves original thinking, and also good researching, eventually it is an ongoing part of the learning process. It is important to write not just for your resume but actually for information sharing. There are legal blogs, that encourage knowledge sharing, and not mere self-promotion.
8. You have delivered a magnificent TEDx Talk at IGDTU on “Empowering One, Empowering Million”. What advice would you like to give to the readers as a take from today’s discourse? Also, a tip that you would like to share with our budding lawyers.
Law is a lifelong commitment to learning. It gives an exposure to latest developments in all areas. To excel habit of reading and forming linkages is extremely important. From my seniors, I have learned that understanding and learning bare acts is the key to success along with inculcating a habit of reading judgments regularly.
Lastly, I would like to share this inspiring wisdom from conversation between Governor Ned Breathitt and his grandfather James Breathitt, a Lawyer, Circuit Judge and Attorney General of Kentucky who inspired Ned to become a lawyer. His grandfather while winning a Christian Circuit Court jury verdict at the age of 84 said that “Ned, you should study to be a lawyer. It is a noble profession, and you never have to retire as long as you have your wits about you and have good health.” Governor Breathitt made up his mind to become a lawyer after this.