Mr. Tushar Agarwal completed his LL.B. from the Amity Law School, Amity University, Noida in the year 2015, and enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi. He also successfully completed a diploma course in “Criminal Justice” from Harvard University, United States. Mr. Agarwal is a first generation lawyer and after working with few renowned Supreme Court judges and Senior Advocates in Delhi, he started his independent practice across various courts and tribunals in Delhi. His practice primarily focuses on criminal law, constitutional law and commercial arbitration.
Mr. Agarwal was one of the assisting counsels representing Dr. Shashi Tharoor in the famous Sunanda Pushkar death case and has previously also made appearances in few pro bono cases along with Senior Counsels of the Indian Supreme Court. Such cases include representing the Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy and the Association of Victims of the Meerut Fire Tragedy. Mr. Agarwal is also empaneled as a young practitioner at the Asia International Arbitration Centre, the International Council for Commercial Arbitration and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. He was also awarded the ‘Top 100 Lex Falcon Award” in Lex Talk World Global Conference in Dubai for his contributions in legal industry.
In this interview to Bar and Bench, Mr. Agarwal, talks about the considerations that prompted him to pursue as career in law, the challenges he faced (and how he overcame such challenges) when starting his independent practice, his views on how the practice of criminal law has undergone a paradigm change and advice to students interested in pursuing a career in criminal laws.
1. What inspired you to join the legal profession and what qualities do you think young lawyers need to inculcate to thrive in this profession?
Law is considered to be one of the noblest profession. A lawyer is the only professional who is addressed as “Learned”. So with the knowledge of law, it is expected from a lawyer that he or she will use that knowledge in making people aware about their legal rights and also litigate on their behalf before a court of law for protecting those rights. So, being a participant in the fight for protection of legal rights of people of one’s country, was the biggest motivation for me to practice this profession.
As far as second the question is concerned, in my opinion 3 basic principles will always help young lawyers thrive in the profession. These qualities being: a) hard work; b) consistency and dedication; and c) patience. The legal profession does not have any short cuts. One has to spend a considerable time in this profession for gaining adequate experience to become successful. One has to positively believe that he or she is capable enough to face all the hardships and successfully sail through all challenges that this profession throws. It is very important for a lawyer to be dynamic and accommodating of new developments in order to keep pace with changing times. To ensure success one has to keep in mind that he is not required to do different things but he is required to do things differently.
2. What major challenges did you face when starting your independent practice and how did you overcome those challenges?
Initially the biggest challenge is to build your face value in the fraternity and to convince clients about your quality of services in order to retain them. It is very difficult to get the desired relief for your clients from the courts. So in these initial years, your work experience gained at internships play a key role.
I religiously follow all the ethical and professional practices learnt from my seniors and continue to work hard with utmost dedication. I spend good amount of time in reading judgments and doing legal research to keep myself updated with the latest legal developments. This habit has helped me gain both legal awareness and retain many clients.
3. How you are coping with this unprecedented time and what creative ways have you adopted to deal with it?
The pandemic, has had a severe impact on my practice. Being a litigating lawyer, I am in the habit of going to courts daily and with the courts closed, it has been frustrating to sit at home. However, this pandemic has also pushed lawyers to understand and appreciate the role of technology in law. Appearing and arguing before the court through video conferencing was altogether a new challenge as well as a different experience.
Therefor in order to sustain through this difficult period, I began to invest my time in learning and understanding the application of technology in the field of law. First of all I myself learnt the procedure for e-filing and arguments through video conferencing and then I got my staff and associates trained for the same. My chamber has been in continuous touch with our clients through various e-modes including emails, video conferencing etc.
I joined few online business and professional networking groups in order to increase my visibility and invested time in reading literature and writing articles. I started collaborating with some of my friends having independent practice for handling variety of cases. So during the pandemic I steered my entire focus to keeping myself engaged at all times and in this way kept depressive and negative thoughts from demoralising me.
4. What paradigm shift have you seen in the area of criminal law from how it was practiced in earlier times?
In olden times, the practice of criminal law was majorly restricted to offences punishable under Indian Penal Code. But with the passage of time, the scope of practice on criminal side has widened. The increasing white collar crimes and economic offences have provided a varied portfolio of criminal cases under special statutes like Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, Companies Act 2013, Goods and Services Act 2017, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, Negotiable Instrument Act 2018 and others. These variety of criminal cases provide a good opportunity to advocates to establish their practice by doing specialisation in certain kind of matters.
5. What are some of the important skills one must possess if they wish to pursue a career in criminal law?
In order to excel in criminal law practice, firstly one should learn to have complete grasp on the facts of the case. In criminal law, an advocate can get major reliefs for the client by simplifying and mastering the facts of the case. Secondly an advocate must focus on learning the procedural law by working in district courts for some time. Comprehensive and intensive understanding of procedural aspects helps a lot in cracking a criminal law case. A thorough grip on facts and procedure is a good combination to help succeed in the area of criminal law.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers looking for jobs in the current scenario?
In my opinion, this pandemic is a temporary phase which will end very soon. Therefore my sincere advice to all aspiring lawyers is that instead of getting disappointed, they should use this time to enhance their legal knowledge either by reading legal books, judgments or writing articles or pursuing online internships etc. They should specifically focus on exploring new areas like artificial intelligence in law etc.
Further whenever you join any chamber as an Associate, you should spend good amount of time in that office without making any haste to start your own independent practice. You should focus on learning the art of legal drafting, court craft, style of arguments, case management etc. from your senior because none of these arts can be learned by reading books. I still remember the exact words of my senior and mentor. He said, “you cannot become Ram Jethmalani in 2 or 3 years of practice. You have to be patient and give adequate time to this profession if you want achieve success.”
This interview was conducted by Campus Ambassador, Shubham Gupta.