Mr. Aditya Chopra is the Founder and Managing Partner of Victoriam Legalis, a law firm that specializes in multi-jurisdictional practice stationed in Mumbai, India. Previously, he co-founded PSL Advocates and Solicitors and SanAd Legal and were later merged.
Mr. Chopra has served as Legal Consultant to Mr. Seemanto Roy at Sahara India Pariwar. He has been named as the “Rising Star Under 40, 2020” by LegalEra. With great experience in mooting and an outstanding academic record, Mr. Aditya, in this interview discusses his journey from law school to developing his own style and name in the field.
Kanika Goswamy: How was your journey as a law student? How were you able to strike a balance in extracurricular activities and academics and how important do you feel it is to be a part of extra-curricular activities?
Aditya Chopra: Spending five years in law school just after coming out from high school obviously shapes one’s identity and has indeed influenced my personality as well. It was like a leap of faith for me to join Institute of Law, Nirma University and it prepared me not only for the multi-faceted profession of law but also gave me one of the most enjoyable and memorable years of my life.
Everything at college was a challenge, as we were the pilot batch and therefore, we were always the subjects of the experiments conducted by the Institute on a trial-and-error basis. Life at college was all about discipline with the most stringent rules of attendance. We were regularly assessed like any other good law school, not only on the basis of mid-sems and end-semester examinations, but in between, we also used to be bombarded with projects, term assignments, quizzes, research papers and moot courts etc. with strictest deadlines. This not only sharpened my research skills, but I also got trained to find the right information at the right place in the limited time and helped to enhance my multi-tasking skills.
I always liked to maintain a balance between academics and extra-curricular activities. Honestly, when I look back, I really don’t how I was able to manage my time as I used to be really active in all the activities taking place at the Institute by being the part of the different committees in all the semesters like Moot Court Committee, Debating Committee, Organizing Committee, Cultural Committee etc.
That’s the advantage of being part of the very first batch of the Institute, though we lacked experience in terms of strong alumni, we hardly cared. We never had to follow any settled irrational norms of the existing colleges. We were constantly exploring, always on our toes, growing as an Institute. From collecting funds to managing huge sponsorships from the market for organizing a moot court competition to orienting juniors with mooting skills – to organize cultural events, I took interest in all. And I give huge credit to our Director Mrs Purvi Pokhariyal and her team to push us to every corner possible. They all mentored and supported us well during our initial times and then gave us the freedom to question and be part of the norms set by the college.
I think it’s really significant to work or be a part of at least some of the student committees, as it really teaches how to work in a team with the people coming from different backgrounds with different thought-processes to reach an amicable solution and if not much, it really teaches you to be tolerant to the people you may not like otherwise.
Kanika Goswamy: In the light of the pandemic, the Companies Act has been amended in 2020. Certain amendments include a reduction in penalties to the extent of paying only 50% of fine for certain offences, excluding companies from the category of “listed companies”, etc. However, many people believe that offences, whether minor or major, should not have reduced penalties because it allows the companies to work in the way they desire. What are your views on the amendment and do you think the reduction in penalties in a way allowing companies to flout rules and get away with it?
Aditya Chopra: It is wrong to say that the Companies Act, 2013 was amended in light of the pandemic. In fact, a committee consisting of representatives from the ministry, industry chambers, professional institutes and legal fraternity was constituted on the 18th September 2019, to give recommendations to decriminalize some provisions of the Act so as to provide ease of business in the country. This committee submitted its recommendations on 14th November 2019 and thereafter the bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on 17th March 2020 i.e., before the lockdown. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 19th September 2020 and by Rajya Sabha on 22nd September 2020 and finally, assent was given by the President on 28th September 2020.
I think that the move by the government is to support the investments and economic activity whilst improving the ease of business in the Country. The reduction in the penalties was much required as the Companies Act, 2013 put a lot of stress and burden on Companies who would have to spend a lot of their resources for complying under the various sections of the Act. This step towards the reduction of penalty, omission of imprisonment, direct listing in the overseas market will only contribute and aid existing business and startups and hence is a welcoming one although we will have to wait and see with time as to how well it is perceived by the public at large
Kanika Goswamy: You have interned at several major legal firms in India and have also founded two of them. With great experience like yours, what is the advice that you would give to students that they should keep in mind while choosing places to intern at? What elements do you think are very important while choosing?
Aditya Chopra: Internships are extremely instrumental in shaping one’s legal career. It provides an opportunity to get practical exposure of work, the application of different laws which are freshly taught in the law schools. The best part about internships is you get to interact with interns from different law schools which help in growing your network in the longer run.
I always believed that it is extremely important for one to understand as to where he/she sees/imagines themselves after 7-8 years of practice. It is then a person should choose his/her goals. The most basic elements while choosing any internship are:
- The sector of work/Area of work
- Access to Mentors
- Kind of work/Meaningful work
- Skillset improvement
- Work Environment
Kanika Goswamy: You define your “lawyering style” as a non-traditional one. What essentially does your style constitute? How do you approach a problem?
Aditya Chopra: As I have stated in one of my earlier interviews, a lawyer needs to be a jack of all trades. In this competitive world, where law profession is no more a family business, a budding lawyer needs to be a jack of all trades – at least in the initial five-ten years, one needs to have a multiplicity of experience to become a master of one.
I do not believe in a stereotypical way of ‘lawyering’.I look at a problem from a multi-dimensional angle and like to explore and test all the possibilities and alternatives for my client. I am a firm believer of the ideology that one must infuse the law with the same passion and persistence that one brings to his business.
In fact, the thought behind my new venture, VictoriamLegalis, was to be disruptive and ground-breaking while providing clear, concise and practical advice. The reason why we do everything differently is that we do have regard for the old rule book, but we question every aspect before following it and see whether we can change it for the better.
Kanika Goswamy: Lastly, what advice would you give to the up and coming lawyers for helping them stand out and that can help them devise their strategy to deal with different legal problems?
Aditya Chopra: There isn’t a sure shot way to success in the legal profession. Everyone has his/her own unique story of success. Believe in yourself – something will surely come to you. No point in comparison and ultimately losing your heart. All you need is patience and hard work. Nothing in life comes for free hence be a go-getter.
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