Libertatem Magazine

Parley with Adv. Kanishk Agarwal, Founder of CriTaxCorp

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Please tell us something about your pre-law school days. What motivated you to take up law?

I am a Delhight. My schooling was from Bal Bharti Public school, Delhi and graduation from Indraprastha University. Delhi where I did my 5 years integrated law course of B.A. LLB (H).

I hail from a family of professionals and I always wanted to do something in taxation field in earlier days but I always knew I never wanted to do CA as it will be really boring for me.  Law intruded me because of the power of deep dive into the understanding of the subjects, so when the opportunity of doing law came before me it wasn’t a hard decision at all.

Please share your law school experiences with our readers. Were you always inclined towards corporate sector?

Looking back to the college times, they seem so distant yet I can remember it vividly. I have learned a lot from my college life, as I was a very shy boy in my school days, and so got a lot of exposure in my college life. I had always been an average student but was an active volunteer in organizing moots, debates, college events and the best was, organizing the college trip for three consecutive years where I had the nightmare of handling 300 law students. However, the exposure was surely a blessing in disguise. Initially I was very focused towards taxation laws, and even though I was an average student in other subjects I was able to grasp the understanding of taxation laws very quickly, I guess that was in my DNA as my father is a Chartered Accountant.

In your opinion, should a law student focus on moots, debates, paper presentation etc. and how is it important for shaping their future in corporate as well as litigation?

As per my views, moots, debates presentations always help in shaping upon person focus, it also enhances you researching capabilities and your fear of public speaking is also taken care of, however litigation, facing judges in real time in litigation work, is very different from the moots court competitions and a person who cannot think on their feet can never do well in litigation. As for the corporate side, it doesn’t help much as moot courts presentations are more related towards shaping one into a litigating lawyer rather than a corporate lawyer.

Is there any option for law students other than Litigation or Corporate Jobs?

It depends on one’s own perspective, Taxation, IPR, Criminal and there are many other great fields which are there for any lawyer to explore, I even explored a new field for myself which came out of passion i.e. finding out the pain areas of lawyers and easing it up by combining technology with law and that is how I ideated “Indian Bare Acts Pack” mobile application which is greeted only to the law field but is not related to any particular field like taxation or litigation or corporate.

You have very rich records of experience ranging from practicing Tax Law with Mr. A.K. Batra to PwC. Did such a variegated experience give you a strategic edge over others who stuck to the same bracket?

Yes, I agree that working in different area of field gave me an edge over others because when I am pitching to a client, drafting an agreement or even formulating strategy in a litigation matter I always keep in mind these three most important fields of laws i.e Criminal, Taxation and Corporate which are applicable to nearly every transaction. However, everything has its own sweet and bitter bites and working in all three fields also sometimes confuses public at large as to which field I specializes in. To conclude I never regret my decision on jumping from taxation to criminal and criminal to corporate because I have learned about best of all three worlds and there is no monotony of work in our office because of that reason only.

You hail from a ‘non-NLU’ law school. Is there any inherent bias between students of National Law Schools and other law schools?

I personally have not faced the biasedness, I hail from a non NLU college but that still didn’t stop me from entering into one of the biggest consultancy firm in the world i.e. PwC, however I do see that kind of race or bragging when it comes to entering into corporate law firms but at litigation it never mattered and it never will.

After PwC, you started CriTaxCorp. Could you please share with our readers what motivated you to found the company and the vision behind founding CriTaxCorp.

Just to clarify I left PwC because the work in all big4 get monotonous at one point of time and I wanted to make my own name in the legal industry. Love for criminal law also pushed me into taking the plunge of leaving PwC and joining criminal law litigation, initially I learned under the tutelage of Mr. Ramesh Gupta senior advocate thereafter I worked under the office of Mr. Subhash Gulati and Mrs. Seema Gulati taking experience under criminal law and when I was getting some work from my own network I took blessings of Subhash Gulati sir and started my own law firm Critaxcorp.

(Laughingly) Our seniors always say that when you have 10 to 15 files of your own then you can start your own practice, first 6 months were really tough because you have a lot of time and less work but my networking skills paid me off and work started pouring in.   It was my father who motivated me, I got huge support from him as he never stopped me from taking my own decisions so that I can learn and take experience in different fields, he always tells me that I should always follow my heart and put my mind into it and result will be perfect! He has taught me that I should never be scared of taking any decision which I believe is right, what more can happen you might not get success but u will gain a lot of experience in your life, which matters the most.

What is your take on the legal entrepreneurship in India? Libertatem Media Group is itself a new organization founded in 2015 and similar to it there are various other organizations that started recently. Do you think there is any ample amount of growth in this legal business sector?

I strongly believe that legal entrepreneurship is going to be a disrupted field in the field of law in coming days. I always feel pride calling myself a legapreneur (legal + entrepreneur) after ideating my law app for lawyers that is IBAP,  I am taking the same further and hopefully next month a new version will be launched, I really believe in the idea that law should be combined with technology to ease up the difficulties faced by lawyers or even litigants. The thought of addressing to one of lawyers problem of referring various sections of law but not having bare acts handy made me come up with the idea of IBAP which have our 4 most basic and important laws i.e IPC, CrPC, CP and Evidence Act and now I have also ideated a mobile app for sensitization of sexual harassment at workplace wherein I have used my legal expertise and combined it with technology, to address one of the most sensitive issues related to workplaces. So yes legal entrepreneurship is defiantly going to pave a new era of lawyers.

As it is said, in litigation, you have to struggle a lot for the first 5-10 years. As a result of which, litigation-oriented students who are not from an affluent family background or who from a middle-class family studying on education loan give up their dream of litigation as they cannot sit idle for the initial years or can’t work at a very low salary for few years. Even in law firms, graduate students are offered Rs.17,000 pm in a city like Mumbai and Rs.5,000 to 10,000 in Ahmedabad. A 12th Pass student who joins a BPO earns Rs. 20,000 pm which is more than a law student who spends around 15 lakh in 5 years only to get a job offering Rs.5,000 to Rs.17,000. What do have to say regarding this? Do you think aspiring law students will really aspire for law once they know this fact? Do you think there should be some sort of ban on private colleges who advertise during the admission period stating 100% placement or a false placement record which lure aspiring law students?

To answer the first part of the question I think if you have vision plus passion then struggling for initial 3 to 5 years is a cost which one has to pay. As to why the salary/compensation in the litigation area is very low is because the seniors are the one who are giving the exposure to the lawyers which they can never get with their own clientele also one has to keep in mind that in litigation, seniors always encourages their juniors to take up assignments on their own which helps in learning and building their own practice at the same time, that is why the pay scale in litigation is low. I learned the same way and I think that is what every lawyer need to do, you need to burn yourself for the first 3 to 5 years to cast yourself into a successful lawyer.

To answer your second part of your question the career graph of a BPO student might be better than a law student in the first five years but the increase in pay scale of a lawyer, after the first five years of experience, can be 10 to 20 times of that of a BPO employee, depending upon the skills of a lawyer and as I said in the first part of my question; Vision and Passion are two important characteristics which a person should have to attain greater heights in his/her career.

Well it has been a while since I have been out of college so do not know much about such practices.

To answer the third question, use of words like 100% placement by private organizations should be put to a check, if not banned, as a college would never be able to get placement for each and every student of the batchthere will be no batch where every law student would want a corporate job, and no college is ever able to get litigation job to every student. Law is very precise so one should use their words cautiously and law students have a knack of holding onto these words and filing PIL’s as well (laughingly).

What would be your piece of advice to aspiring law students who are preparing for CLAT and confused which law school to prefer after CLAT?

Firstly, at my time CLAT was not there, so I don’t have the first-hand experience for the same, as per me a good law college do help in strengthening your legal foundation but no matter where you did your law from it’s your capabilities which take you a long way, especially in litigation. Rest as I said earlier it never stopped me from getting a job at PwC.

What would be your advice to young law students who are confused between Corporate Job and Litigation?

The best thing to do is opt for as many internships as they can to get a better understanding and gain practical knowledge.

Firstly, they should understand the whole concept of a subject matter, for eg. Taxation, is a subject which is either liked or totally disliked by lawyers, so one needs to understand and explore to see if they have interest in the same or not.

Secondly, as for Corporate, it is a very wide field which ranges from drafting of agreements to regulatory compliances to transaction advisory. It is a field which requires round-the-clock–work, with alluring packages, so one need to understand exactly what they want, work-life balance or money, in litigation it only takes two or three internships for one to understand whether litigation is his or her cup of tea or not, some love the rage of arguing in the courts and some hate it because of sitting ideal in the court or roaming in scoring heat.  I would like to end this question by saying that you need to jump in the water to see whether you can swim or not.

What would be your advice to the budding entrepreneur of the legal sector?

From my personal experiences, I would like to tell them that in your initial days it would be hectic, I have worked round–the-clock on setting up my practice or for launching the mobile apps, but one shouldn’t be scared of working hard because the results are always fruitful. Whenever I get time I read articles for a better understanding of law or technology, but I have adapted all this as a hobby and so it is not a burden. I believe that if things are planned and one knows how to manage time, they can easily coordinate their personal and professional life. However, one needs to prioritize their field of law, interest, and goal with their time to follow a focused path to their success. I am still experimenting to know the ultimate path, but that is the fun, provided you balance the fun with risk. Have the courage to experiment and do something out of the box. My advice would be don’t just leave everything and get into legal entrepreneur but if you have any idea put efforts where your thoughts are and if it carves out well then pursue it. But never forget that you are a lawyer first and then an entrepreneur, even in the word Legapreneur, legal comes first and then the entrepreneur.

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