Exclusive G2 interview with Abhijit Joshi – Part 2by Payal Sen MBA post graduate
What is it like being Senior Partner at AZB?
As a Senior Partner, one gets juniors coming in all the time with problems related to various cases. So, one is constantly thinking about solutions and how to solve problems. Here at AZB we have an open-door policy, so any one is free to walk in and it's quite an informal environment to work in. That's good. When I started here in 2001, we had 12-15 lawyers and now we have more than 250 lawyers. I have enjoyed being part of it rather than being a partner. If you are around for long enough—about 20 years—you end up becoming a partner.
What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian legal profession?
One of the main strengths of the Indian legal profession is the Indian mind—it is very sharp and has the ability to find solutions to the most complex propositions. But the flip side of the coin is the challenge—it is not institutionalised, it has not reached economies of scale. You cannot harness talent because there are very few large law firms in the context of the population of India. A large law firm here would have 250 to 600 lawyers whereas a large firm in the UK would have 2,000 to 5,000 lawyers and the Indian population is far larger than Britain's. But we have a lot of individual lawyers. The centres of excellence, however, are few.
Do you feel that we will see foreign law firms setting up practice here?
I hope the laws will permit foreign firms to set up shop here. After all competition brings best practices and this leads to better quality, which in turn leads to excellence at work.
The Indian legal system is still dominated by paper over technology. Are efforts being made to change this? Yes, with the advancing of technology, the system is using less paper. Law libraries, for instance, are becoming more virtual. Today most of the books are on computer, unlike in the past. In today's law firms, the present generation does its research on the computer. But, of course, we will never get rid of paper.
Is professionalism growing in the legal system in India?
Professionalism is growing in the legal system through the way people conduct checks and balances. But too many systems can make it a business—there is a very fine balance. There are great Indian lawyers because the Indian mind is very fertile. We have failed in implementation, though our jurisprudence is good. Our implementation is not so good, as various factors are involved such as the population issue, the number of courts, the number of judges, disputes, remuneration and so on. It's a systemic issue. That is why I prefer out-of-court settlements. Litigation often takes years, if not decades, during which clients end up spending large sums of money. Besides, there is value to peace in life.
Will we see a distinction between management and ownership of law firms in India?
No. In India the profession is very personality oriented unlike in the West, where it is brand-centric. A distinction between management and ownership of law firms is still not on the horizon—personal skill is still very much involved. Management and ownership still needs to get depersonalised and institutionalised.
What are your goals for the future?
I do not have a destination as a goal, I have excellence as a goal. I strive for excellence in my work, my interaction with people, self-evolution—it's a way of life for me. This is something I aspire for.
Let's talk about your personal life—how do you relax?
Music relaxes me. I love Indian classical music, though I listen to a whole range of music. I believe music is a matter of mood. At parties I often MIR music—retro and jazz and rock. Music is about mood and genre and beats. The key lies in how to assimilate them. After a few drinks people want to listen to mellow music or music with a dominant beat. I always opt for Indian classical and Rashid Khan and Shujaat Khan are some of my favourite artistes. I remember listening to Indian classical throughout a nine-hour flight to London.
Do you travel a lot?
I have to travel a lot on work. I must have made about 40 trips last year, both in India and abroad. But travel does not relax me.
I like reading Graham Greene and books on management. Unfortunately, I don't read as much as I'd like because after work, which itself involves reading, I am often just too tired. I was brought up on a vegetarian diet, so I relish vegetarian fare.
We wish Abhijit every success!
Created on Dec 31st 1969 19:00. Viewed 0 times.