In an era of specialised careers, a career in Law gives you a strong foundation of transferable skills that can be applied to so many diverse areas. The list is endless.
Sparsh Gupta, our next pathbreaker, practising lawyer in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, deals with cases wherein the rights of clients are infringed in one way or the other be it civil or criminal in nature.
Sparsh talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about taking up a wide range of cases related to NGOs, Civil, Criminal, Startups, Patent Infringement, Investigative Bureaus, Human Rights and many more that give him the opportunity to practise as a Generalist Lawyer.
For students, study Law if you would like to explore diverse opportunities based on a common set of foundational skills.
Sparsh, tell us about your background?
I am a lawyer who was born and brought up in the holy city of Kurukshetra (Haryana). My father was a lawyer in the High Court and my mother a Professor of English in Govt. College, because of which studying and going through different books became a hobby of mine at a young age. The interesting stories of different cases that my father had to deal with drove me towards the legal profession which resulted in me assisting him in his profession since the first year of my law college. The interest towards this profession grew more when I was asked to prepare case files/ briefs for clients that came to my father. Noting their points would be of a great interest for me. Earlier, my interests were in writing books on the legal enactments of our country, which eventually became a reality with inspiration from my mother who taught me the art of drafting.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
I completed B.A.LL.B (Hons) from Institute of Law, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra and LL.M. from Department of Laws, Kurukshetra University , Kurukshetra.
What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
Every single person I have met till date has been an inspiration to me and a source of learning in my life at some point or the other .
The key influencers / mentors and the main people are both my parents who made me believe that I too could fight against injustice suffered by the common man in this society and can help him/her redress his grievance at an appropriate forum .
With each case and client interaction, the passion for pursuing this profession grew much stronger. But hosting an event in Constitution Club over a topic of Women Empowerment inspired me to be a public speaker as well .
The turning point came when I realized that every profession requires time management and if I am expected to be a good lawyer, I am expected to be a good draftsman as well and thus , I authored 2 books ‘A commentary on Indian Contract Act, 1872) (2017) and ‘Cruelty Against Women’ (2018) and many articles and research papers on variety of topics, which helped me attain more knowledge and pen my knowledge into a tool of learning for others as well, thereby contributing to society in another way.
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path
I started my career on the footprints of my father and following his approach of leaving no stone unturned to seek justice for a client, took my foundational steps towards this career. The thought process was simple, but complicated in the sense that whenever there is an infringement of right , the record must be set straight and for the affected party to convey this infringement and an order from the competent court should be obtained in the party’s favour, an approach that exists till date. Every other lawyer or jurist who I have interacted with till date has been my ‘Guru’ and taught me something in every session. It is my good fortune that the teachings from them and my professors in college made my foundations and principles stronger. I graduated with a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) and post graduated with LL.M. with an expertise in Commercial Contracts and Cyber security. This profession, like every other profession, requires contacts. For instance, just like a Doctor has to maintain a relationship with Nursing Staff, Anaesthetist, Surgeons and Pharmacists, a legal professional is expected to maintain contacts for widening his scope in the profession. But all this has to be done within the guidelines of professional ethics and with total integrity . In my case, the only contacts I had in this profession were my father and my grandfather, who was also a senior lawyer in High Court and retired Sessions judge, thereby giving me all the guidance I needed in my practising years.
In the initial years of my career, I started working with NGOs in Delhi and Chandigarh to expand my knowledge regarding social work. It helped me gain my confidence. Along with that I started doing trials in CBI Courts of Punjab along with my father which gave me lots of exposure. During these trials I came to know about trap cases in which CBI catches the person red handed using traps and proves the case using the spectrography method whereby the voices recorded during the trap are proved in the court. So to help a client, I learned more about the spectrography techniques. Since I did LL.M. in Business Laws as well as in Intellectual Property Laws, I learned about helping startups seeking corporate guidance thereby expanding my field . Moreover, with the knowledge of IP Laws, I moved further into issuing and replying to copyright /trademark infringement notices , thereby giving myself a vast space of practice to learn and grow. As far as PIL (Public Interest Litigation) is concerned, I learned how to file and respond to a PIL and the importance of PIL in protection from Human Rights violation and many other factors.
I have always been taught that there is no age or stage of learning. You must be a keen observer to learn new things and once you learn it just try to expand your knowledge with passage of time and also share it with others.
How did you get your first break?
My first break as a lawyer was given to me in the form of a case to be presented before Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh. The day I got this was the first day I entered into the profession acquiring the necessary licenses. The case was of seeking a direction by the Hon’ble High Court to a Government subsidiary for doing work in a stipulated time frame. I was nervous but my father believed in me and provided me the case brief to argue the same without any help from any other person so as to make me stand as an independent legal professional on the very first day of my career, which turned out to be the best gift a son could get from his father. As a result of his belief, the case turned out in our favour and the trust reposed by my father in me made me scale the heights with all vigor and spirit.
What were the challenges? How did you address them?
Although I consider every single day of life as a challenge as we are faced with new situations, problems and scenarios but I would like to break it down into 3 most significant challenges that I have faced.
Challenge No.1- How to be disciplined?
Although, I belong to a disciplined family whereby the members are either in legal profession or academicians, at individual level, the profession which I am practising requires discipline. If a client has approached you with a work , he is supposed to have some expectations from a lawyer being a patient listener, time bound , fair and reasonably interactive and many other traits and most of all, DISCIPLINE. Since the advocate has to deal with many clients and one cannot prioritize one client over another and thus, a lot of strenuous training is required to master the art of discipline. That is a challenge which I am still facing in the current scenario.
Challenge No.2 – How to achieve command over drafting skills?
Nowadays, even students at primary level are so good at drafting and composition that people in professions like me are given tough competition by their skills. In the legal profession, you are expected to draft the cases for your clients in the best possible manner so as to provide clarity to judges as to what the client intends to say and the justice he desires from the court. So , even if we go through the latest books, keep ourselves updated with the latest laws and precedents, we still require to take all the knowledge and put it on a piece of paper in the most fitting manner. And I face this challenge every day which can never be put to rest.
Challenge No.3- How to come on top from this growing competition?
For the past few years now, the enrolment of law graduates in litigation practice is at a record high and irrespective of gender, people are entering into this profession with various skill sets that we had not acquired in our time, thereby, the newcomers gain so much advantage over their predecessors in this field that it is hard to hold the ground for a longer period in this profession unless you are equipped with latest technology, the expertise, their research methods etc. So this challenge is the most tough one to manage and keep at bay and is being faced by every person in every profession.
Where do you work now? Tell us about your work
I work as a practising lawyer in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh. I deal with cases wherein the rights of clients are infringed in one way or the other be it civil or criminal in nature.
As mentioned earlier, the continuous ability to learn and prosper with time is the most important skill . I have also learned this skill from my seniors , my professors and most importantly my parents and trying to sharpen this skill with every passing day.
A typical day in my life starts with reading articles in the morning and not touching the phone for at least 1-2 hours after waking up . It continues with usual studies
The best thing about this work that I do is going to sleep every night without any medication but with a satisfaction that my knowledge and hard work have proven useful for other people and it is helping them get their lives better.
How does your work benefit society?
My work is mainly focussed on delving into society and uprooting the basic problems that are diminishing the integrity of society, with my knowledge and professional skills. Moreover, I was enrolled with the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India to work as a ‘Pro Bono Lawyer’ in 2018 for providing free legal aid to needy people, thereby lending a free hand to poor people who cannot afford some fee structures. Moreover, with my work , I provide legal education to incoming law interns and help them learn the basics of ethics and integrity and due respect towards their colleagues, seniors, society members and even their juniors, thereby helping shape the new generation as a more cohesive generation of lawyers and jurists . I lend my work to NGOs for social purposes like eradication of social evils like dowry, child marriage and women cruelty and advise them on a zero fees policy basis so as to help them.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
My most memorable work was a case whereby the client was falsely involved in a criminal case by his competitors out of a misunderstanding for which he was dismissed from his service and had no means to make both ends meet for his bread and butter . When I started appearing for his case , it was on zero fees policy and I still remember the day, when the order was being pronounced by the Hon’ble Court after a very lengthy argument , the client had tears in his eyes and praise for my work while we came out of the court and that was the time when I felt that I have entered the profession for a reason, giving helpless people a hope and reason to be happy .
Your advice to students based on your experience?
The sole advice to students based on my experience is to keep their goals high and have a clear picture in their minds of a teacher or a parent as their leader till they reach the zenith in their life where a role of prominence is awarded to them by their family and society .
The future plan is just to hold my ground and perform my duties as a lawyer with all due devotion and integrity and learn more and grow more with time.