Pankaj Mehta is the Founder and Managing Partner of Fortune Legal Advocates and Legal Consultants, Heading a full-service law firm based out of the High Court of Delhi. He graduated from NLSIU and has extensive experience in corporate and contractual matters. He is a Competent and versatile Legal Professional with vast and immense exposure to the entire gamut of commercial and corporate legal affairs. He has experience in various projects and specialization in Engineering and Construction Projects, ensuring a smooth sail through the various phases of the Project. He is an excellent team player with analytical skills and is an energy-driven motivator and optimistic individual with a strong client-focused approach with Immense zeal and enthusiasm to accept and meet challenges in the competitive environment.
Here is the transcript of the Interview with Mr Mehta.
Aparna: Your firm was incorporated in the year 2013, please tell us what made you want to start a law firm. Had you always wanted to pursue this from the beginning of your academics?
Pankaj Mehta: The inception of Fortune Legal came about because I felt that there were things which could be done differently from what was the industry standard. I always wanted to start my own firm and make a name for it. My unwavering focus was on quality deliverables instead of marketing gimmicks, I felt that a legal practise should be based around protecting the interests of ones’ clients and delivering quality, pioneering legal solution. The Firm’s motto has always been to deliver pioneering legal solutions, tailored to clients’ needs. Ever since its inception, the firm’s professional team of lawyers work tirelessly to secure justice in a time-bound and cost-effective manner. The initial years of running the firm was an arduous task as it involved a lot more than just knowing the law or possessing business acumen. It taught me a lot about sacrifice, prioritizing and resilience. It was a challenge to maintain a balance between making court appearances and also staying afloat while doing this. No big client would trust a new Firm like ours but the passion for the profession kept us going. There were times when I did not draw a salary as I had to make sure that my staff was paid and all the overheads were met but looking back at it now, it’s all worthwhile. The firm used to handle a lot of small litigations back then most of which were pro bono as the clients were not in the condition to pay but we made sure that whether the work was pro bono or paid handsomely, the quality should be exceptional and that’s what got us to where the firm stands today.
Aparna: Please share your firm’s experience of working on the case file “Shweta Singh vs Union of India” which paved your firm’s fame into the light.
Pankaj Mehta: In 2013, the firm filed a Public Interest Litigation captioned Shweta Singh Vs Union of India &Ors, WP(C) 383 of 2013, before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and got the Court to constitute a committee of 3 district judges to formulate guidelines on protection and preservation of judicial records and further direct the reconstruction of court files in a 20 years old rape case. This was the case which put the name of the firm on the map and got us on the radar of big clients. After the PIL, Clients came flooding in with varied problems and even more varied areas of litigation. This enabled the firm to learn and grow and gain expertise in several areas which were hitherto unknown to the team. This was the time which also led to the expansion of the team at the Firm. The subject concerning the PIL and the fact that justice was denied to the victim of a heinous crime of rape, the Firm ensured that the best of its resources were deployed on the case. It gives us immense pleasure that the Firm was able to obtain the orders that would ensure that the victim’s right to access to justice was effectively protected and that the Police system also changed to ensure that the justice delivery process was not tainted. The PIL has been one of the crown jewels of the Firm and we take immense pride in what we were able to accomplish what we did.
Aparna: What are the ethics and principles that your firm follows to achieve success?
Pankaj Mehta: The firm and its advocates have attained sterling testimonies from its clients for their integrity, honesty, trustworthiness and cohesion. Our firm deeply believes in the principles of ethics and integrity, and the firm has always promoted and contributed to the well-being of the society by fighting for justice by using every single legal remedy at our Client’s disposal and handling each and every matter with responsibility and accountability as if the firm has a personal interest in every case. Other undertakings of the firm which separates us from the rest are as below:
Associates are deputed to work with different teams of the firm for their all-round development so that they have the knowledge in every field.
Workshops, conferences and seminars for employees to keep them update and familiar with the legal developments and to ensure that employees should never be made to falter because their knowledge or exposure is restricted.
Work from home: Our firm makes all endeavours to increase the productivity of its people and also giving them the space to maintain a healthy personal life. This also provides for greater flexibility with work schedules and reduces the stress of juggling work and personal life.
Motivating and supporting the Employees to participate in seminars, conferences and research work.
Recognize Efforts and Reward Laudable Contributions of the Associates: At our Firm, the Associates are given the liberty to take initiative and convey their ideas and decisions to the Partners, making them feel confident and also to reward them for the initiatives taken for the betterment of the Firm. This instils in the Associates the reassurance that their thoughts and opinions are valued and appreciated, making them all the more likely to work for the Firm as its own.
Independence: At our firm, every individual is allowed to take some independent decisions in the case/task allotted to them. This enables them to take ownership of their work and also increases accountability for the effects of their own decisions. Through empowerment, the individual is capacitated or warranted to conceive, function, perform, and control work and determine the course of events independently
The firm deeply believes in the Latin maxim servimus, which means simply ‘We serve’. Our lawyers are compulsive about client service, and at any stage never compromise with the quality of client satisfaction. The vision of the firm that is deeply imbibed in the undertakings and functioning of the firm and from the Partner level to the Associate level, is to ensure efficient, sincere and unhindered delivery of top-notch legal services to the clients. The firm strives to provide for all our clients’ legal needs and ensure so at reasonable costs. The firm also believes in giving back to society and helping those in need. Assisting start-ups right from their incorporation to their functioning and compliances, the firm does it all and at extremely reasonable costs so as to make sure that these new companies can grow and contribute to the economy, not just in taxes, but also by creating employment. The firm’s mission is to ensure that every individual has access to justice, that the fear of approaching a court of law wanes away gradually and people can approach courts as a matter of right and not because of desperation and helplessness.
Aparna: In 2019 the firm was qualified amongst the “Top 3 Criminal Law Firms of the year” at the Asia Legal Business Awards. What are some of the very important but underrated aspects of working on Criminal Cases?
Pankaj Mehta: The most important aspect, that is strangely overlooked, is the effort that has to go into a criminal case. Criminal litigation, on either side, has the life and liberty of an individual at stake and such a scenario requires the highest degree of dedication and integrity to ensure that justice is delivered effectively.
The research and diligence that goes into preparing for a criminal case are greater than other cases to some extent because there stands no room for error. It is imbibed in the Firm’s policy to ensure that representation should be to the greatest possible quality and no room for error should exist in extending our services to the Clients.
Aparna: What would be your word of advice for the budding entrepreneurs who wish to start a law firm of their own?
Pankaj Mehta: Focus on the quality of work and ensure you do justify your professional commitment. The money will follow for sure for those deserving and ensuring timely and quality services.
Aparna: Marital rape is an exception to Rape under IPC, but the Domestic Violence Act comes to the rescue of victims through protection orders or orders to stop the violence. Do you think Marital Rape should not be an exception and should be added in Section 375 of the IPC?
Pankaj Mehta: Rape is an offence, irrespective of the relationship in which the rape is committed and marriage should not be an exception or excuse to permit rape. Such is the sentiment of the Hon’ble Courts as well as witnessed by observations in a catena of judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and various High Courts in the country. That being said, there has to be a balance between the rights of the victims and the accused so as to ensure that the laws and the justice delivery system are not abused to the detriment of any individual.
Aparna: Due to the current pandemic, there’s a chaos of functions. How do you manage to bring unity and cooperation among your teammates in this period?
Pankaj Mehta: The team has been able to pull together and ahead during the predicament of the current situation because they have been groomed to take ownership of their job and the work they do. Once an individual sees the work as their own, they tend to ensure that nothing comes in the way of the completion of work. The small hiccups that did present themselves before the team, I ensured that they did not get between the team bonding they shared before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Aparna: What qualities do you search for in an intern while recruiting them into your firm?
Pankaj Mehta: The Firm looks for interns who have a hunger for learning and a vision with their career in the profession. Law is a profession unlike others and that is the reason I feel that recruitment or hiring processes that are a matter of general practice do not effectively translate to recruitment/hiring in the legal profession. There are a ton of soft skills that make a good lawyer which results do not even recognise, leave alone measure it.
It is extremely simple to get an internship with the Firm if one has a passion for the profession, is punctual and hungry to learn everything they can. These three qualities are what we look for in interns.
Aparna: Lastly, your firm has achieved many accomplishments for its hard work and authenticity. The competition among the legal firms is getting compact and also there’s an increase in the number of firms, so please tell us how do you ensure the stability and growth of your firm?
Pankaj Mehta: The competition shall always be ever-increasing. With the passage of time, the competition today would have increased exponentially. We try to ensure that our focus is on delivery of quality in every aspect of the Firm’s functioning along with being dynamic to adjust with the changing environment we exist in. The advantage of focussing on ensuring a high quality of deliverables is that it helps with client retention and establishes the quality we ensure as the key aspect of the Firm’s brand. This ensures stability and growth because the focus is directed at the Clients.
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