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Seeing Akil Hirani, little can one guess that he has been practicing law for over 20 years. In fact, Hirani himself says that when people see him for the first time, they find it difficult to believe that he is so experienced. “But when I begin talking, things change,” he smiles. This Managing Partner of his family firm, Majumdar & Co., heads the company’s transactional practice. Hirani is a leading corporate lawyer with specialisations in M&A and finance.

Though his father was an established solicitor, Hirani says that he was not influenced by this. “I was a star student but did not wish to study the sciences. I took up the liberal arts and even thought of appearing for the civil services exams,” Hirani says. He completed is Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, in 1989. Wanting to harness his analytical and communication skills in a sensible manner, he went to join law at the Government Law College, Mumbai.

Hirani is enrolled in three Bar councils – California, U.K. and India, but practices in India currently. “In 1994, I took the Bar exams in California. Then I did my legal clerkship in the courts in San Jose, CA.” Here, he learned a lot of important things. Exposed to the fast way of working in the U.S. “A trial would be completed in approximately three years, and even then there were complaints about the slow speed. I used to find it so embarrassing that it could take a lifetime to get a case tried in India courts,” he elucidates. In 1996, he worked at the London firm of Lawrence Jones.

Talking about the challenges faced by a lawyer and the judicial system, Hirani says that Indian law makers need to find mechanisms to speed up trials. According to him, India also needs more judges and special schools or programmes for training judges. This could be a separate programme for grooming judges, he adds.

Hirani has a keen interest in reforms and other legal issues and writes on key legal issues relating to banking, M&A and tax structuring in various journals. He has also been invited to speak on these issues at national and international forums.

Working with international clients, he finds a different set of challenges. The laws in India are different and the clients need to be explained the differences fully. “As many global standards are not accepted Indian standards, clients need to be advised accordingly,” says Hirani. As the venture capital activity in India has increased, he finds that Indian entrepreneurs are not focused on legal and other compliances. This creates difficulties in deals, he explains. “Law is similar to the game of chess. It needs a bigger-picture strategy and getting the details right. I like to play carefully and solving problems keeps me going.”
With his vision of helping the society through law, the Hirani Foundation was incorporated to make this vision a reality.

Through this non-profit foundation, Hirani does a lot of charitable work in the educational and social fields. “A cash scholarship for graduate law students to undertake further studies in law in the leading universities abroad has been incorporated. This is not a loan but a payout,” he clarifies. To name some of the leading universities where Hirani Foundation scholars have studied – Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge.

Then there are more activities connected to the immediate needs of the community, such as funding a garden in a municipal hospital and giving aid to needy primary and secondary school students. His vision is to give during his lifetime and to empower people to become self- sufficient.

For young aspirants or those who have just entered law, Hirani advises that they should focus on their goal. Money should not be the reason for walking into the profession. But learning the system in the formative years should be the primary objective. Once the skills are developed and mastered, the rest will follow.

We acknowledge “100 Legal Luminaries of India” by Lalit Bhasin (Lexis). The multicolour coffee table book printed on art paper in Hardbound is priced at ` 5995/- and is available at Universal Book Traders, C-27, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001.

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