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LexTalk World Talk Show with Ajinkya Kurdukar, Founder at Kurdukar & Co. Advocates.

Ajinkya has an experience of working in the legal domain since 2011. His early years offered him opportunities to work with law firms and counsels that gave him a rich and diverse exposure to Litigation & Non- Litigation. Graduating in Law, Ajinkya is also a qualified Company Secretary and has completed his Diploma in Maritime Laws, Business Laws, Private Equity and Professional Certification in Arbitration, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence from renowned institutions. He has been a visiting faculty to the University of Mumbai since 2016 sharing his experiences and insights in Arbitration, Corporate & Insolvency laws.

Ajinkya has worked on unique and challenging assignments be it Arbitration, Private Equity, Fintech, Blockchain or Corporate Law and has delivered satisfying results. He is on the panel of Advocates of various banks, domestic and international corporations. He has been a TEDx- Unplugged Speaker and was recently awarded ‘Youth Inspiration of the Year 2019’ award for excellence in legal services. He has conducted academic sessions for renowned institutions such as Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay), Chamber of Tax Consultants among others on various topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Funding processes and Transactions. Along with managing the firm in Mumbai, Ajinkya is also a fitness enthusiast, an amateur poet, boxer, and a passionate perfumer.


Host: What really brought you to the legal fraternity?

Ajinkya: Honestly there are two things here. One is my grandfather. He was a lawyer. He was a very renowned criminal lawyer; my great grandfather was a District judge. Somebody in my paternal family was also a retired Supreme Court judge. Hence at the back of my mind there was always this thing but the kick start moment is when I started watching a couple of serials, movies, that was in my school days. One thing that I sensed is my temperament was very interesting during my school and my college days. That’s when my parents and some people in my family thought that this temperament is apt for the legal profession. That was the first and probably the hardest hitting point when I started considering it. I was always inclined to technology, science, mathematics, of course I had that in my mind but considering my characteristics my temperament and the way I approach the things, my parents thought that I should consider taking up Law and after my 12th Standard, yes I was quite convinced with and I focused on it since my 11th, 12th Standard.

Host: You are not really a first generation lawyer

Ajinkya: Not technically.

Host: Being a lawyer comes with lot of cases. If you can tell us about, I guess every case is complex in its own way but if you can tell us about a recent or any complex legal issue with the complexity around it and your approach about it.

Ajinkya: That hits me like a break because I can’t really identify one single matter but ok. The one that immediately comes to my mind is a matter that we closed recently. It was ongoing for about five, five and a half years and it was a very strange situation where three of my clients were bombarded with cases from all directions before multiple courts may it be high court, may be Magistrate, may it be Civil court and so on so forth. Not in just one jurisdiction but in multiple jurisdictions and interestingly the complainant or the petitioner was one of their ‘Ex’ seniors, one of their ‘Ex’ bosses. So it was sort of offshoot of grudge or jealousy or stuff like that and these guys were new into the business. They were very young, they didn’t know how to go about it, they were just figuring out about their business and all these matters just hit them with surprise and they didn’t know where to go. It so happened that they called me one day when they got a call from the cops, they came to my office, we discussed. It was a long battle for us because we honestly fought for 5 plus years before different courts across India as I said earlier and it is just about in August that the closure happened.

They are out of each and every case across India and I think personally I take that as a personal victory as well because they came to me when I was very new in the profession. I was quite young into the profession and I was taking those matters like a challenge, like a personal challenge because I was also exploring things and by the grace of God, my seniors and many other people, I could sail through, not even one day the clients went behind bars, not even a single adverse order that was against the client it was definitely very very complex considering the nature of the complaint but more than the complexity, I think it is a landmark in my own professional journey and that’s one thing that I would like to share here. Apart from that we recently closed funding ground for a block chain company in India with a UK bases fund. That again was a big challenge. And yes, these two were the ones I can think of it.

Host: What sort of cases you really take-up or what are your key practice areas .

Ajinkya: My key practice areas are Corporate, Commercial and Transactions. That’s what I focus on, that’s what I have been very enthusiastic about because I very sincerely believe that a lawyer can’t be good at multiple things. Let alone other professions but a lawyer because we need to deep dive in to each and every case to do justice to it. I do a lot of arbitrations, so more or less I remain within this domain only, I avoid going into any other area where I don’t feel comfortable, where I don’t feel I will be able to deliver my 100%. That’s the guiding line for me.

Host: I believe in 2019 you were rewarded as ‘Youth Inspiration of the year’, you have been TEDEX Unplugged speaker and a visiting faculty in the University of Mumbai, I guess it is all associated with Arbitration and Private Equity and Block chain?

Ajinkya: The TEDEX Unplugged Talk was pertaining to AI. I have been doing some research, reading, sharing my thoughts and views on some different platforms about AI because I am extremely bullish about AI, Block Chain and Web3 so these are the technologies I believe will be facilitators, great platforms and game changers for every profession including the legal profession which is considered to be a very traditional one and the TEDEX Unplugged Talk was pertaining to AI in legal space. And I really enjoyed taking that award because I think it gives some sort of an acknowledgement that you are on the right path. I am extremely enthusiastic about teaching, about sharing my views, about helping students because A- I enjoy doing that, B- I believe that someone who is practicing in a domain is the best teacher to explain a particular law or to explain a particular concept. Somebody who has never stepped into the Court, somebody who has never worked on a particular transaction can never teach students how a transaction works or how litigation works. So I have been fortunate that I got multiple opportunities to be associated with colleges, Universities and other educational institutions. Yes. I do take up such opportunities and I make sure that I give justice to it.

Host: You mentioned that you love to share your views, I would like to get your views on ‘Access to Justice’. How do you rate the current system on a scale of 10 about ‘Access to Justice’, towards encouraging access to justice and the follow up question is, is there a tangible movement forward in terms of time for a case to bring the case to its end. Form all those standpoints if we can have your views.

Ajinkya: Yes I think there are big challenges but I think the challenges are only in terms of the infrastructure. In terms of the merits of the legal system which is a topic in itself, I think it’s beautiful and almost flawless. However the infrastructure is what slows it down or infrastructure that takes you away from the whole objective of the legal machinery.

I am no one to sort of rate it, but it would be 6 on 10 points, 4 points cutting primarily for the reason that the infrastructure in insufficient. Six positive points because I sincerely believe that the system is very clear with its objective. It’s not running haywire, they know what they are doing, they know where they have to go and the best part is since 2017-18 the judicial system has been very active, pro-active. So we are going to see some very ambitious changes in the times to come. Additionally we are also going to some ambitious changes in terms of the perspective that the judges or the entire judicial machinery has which will be very open to the changes that are rapidly occurring in our society. We can’t be aloof, we can’t be unaware about the rapidly changing technology, situations and that’s something I am very positively looking at and I think that this thing is going to happen in next few years. I am extremely impressed with the kind of judicial machinery that we have today, the kind of orders that are being passed, the justices being delivered. I am quite impressed and I am quite happy about it.

Host: You also talked about legal technology, in that context I have a question… there were a lot of changes when the pandemic happened in India when we saw courts being moved towards more remote places so do you think this is a sustainable or a possible way to access to justice or is that an issue of infrastructure of remote courts?

Ajinkya: I think yes. It is favoring the objective of doing justice and I think it is the best way we can tackle the infrastructural bottleneck that we face today. I will give you a small example. There are multiple cases where we don’t really need multiple hearings. We just need one or two hearings and that’s sufficient. Unfortunately when we were working in the court rooms off line, that time on many occasions the matter never used to reach. It used to be listed but it never reached the board. Now what happens is, because we are working remotely, because there are virtual hearings happening, the probability of hearing has reached manifolds. Second thing is we are on 28th today, yesterday was a landmark day in the Indian history that the supreme court started airing its constitutional bench proceedings which is I think is a right of citizens to see how the judiciary works, to know what is the way the judiciary looks at things and that accessibility is going to go down as a landmark development in the history. That’s how I see it and last, the access to justice should never be denied to anybody and honestly infrastructure bottleneck should be the last reason to deny justice to anybody. So I think the way things are shaping up the whole judicial machinery is adopting the technology I think is great, it’s a very positive step and lastly we are 1.4 B and most of us are equipped with mobile phones, tablets, computers, at least one of these three devices and we know how to use it so why not make sure that this particular awareness or technology literacy as they say he possess, why not use it for the sake of justice? I think it’s a great step and I am extremely bullish about it.

Host: Yes I think according to a lot of data I guess even Government supports this. Our mobile users is the same of US entire population which is too good. Do you thinkg in terms of infrastructure, its mainly with lower courts? Do you think in terms of tier 2 and tier 3 cities the things should change rapidly? Do you think it should change upstream and not downstream? What do you think?

Ajinkya: I get what you are trying to say and there is merit but the way I look at it, every change that happens it takes time to percolate it to the last level or the lowest level to acknowledge it and start using it but it will take time. It will take about 5 to 8 years may be! But that’s a short duration for a completely new technology to be absorbed or adopted in an industry or in machinery and the benefit that we will get out of it will be huge. Imagine somebody at a click of a button is able to get registered documents extracted from the system at the lowest level or let’s say at a tier 4 level town or a village, we need to have understanding that we need to have our e literary process at the same pace at which we are trying to use the technology in the judicial machinery. It should not happen that the technology is available at judiciary level in the tier 3 cities but people don’t know how to use it. That should not also happen. We should have parallel development and I think it will take 5 to 8 years and see we are living in an era where 2011 seems to be like just 2-3 years ago but technology wise it’s almost like a century ago. So with that increasing velocity so to say, I am sure we will cover the whole distance in the next 5-7 years.

Host: Yes. I was hearing in a podcast and they said earlier the generation gap really meant 15-20 years but now it’s only 5 years. The technology is finally coming to legal side and pandemic has worked as a sort of a catalyst for it. What are the most commonly used tools for you as a lawyer in order to support you as a lawyer?

Ajinkya: I think that’s a brilliant question and I have been very consciously using legal techs in my day to day operations, without naming the software, we use four software’s, there are two software’s which we use for case management. We have a very systematic way of doing our work. If I have completed the matters in a day, by the end of the day, each and every client gets an update along with the interim order, whatever is there right in their mail box we have dash boards created for each client.

Whenever we acquire a client, we have a dash board created for them. They can access everything pertaining to their case at a click of a button so all the documents which have been filed, everything that has happened in the court, about the conferences, notes, minutes everything is available for them at the click of a button. Second thing is we use legal tech for being informed about the upcoming cases. I very sincerely believe in planning and executing and my planning lasts for tomorrow, nest week, next two weeks and in a month and not beyond that. So the software helps me in terms of planning my day, my month and strategizing which is another hidden or unspoken element of the profession where you have to be extremely meticulous when it comes to strategizing your transactions, strategizing your litigations because if you are only going to work on the basis of one day or two day planning, you may not be able to do justice to the client, you may not be able to do justice to the matter.

And that’s the reason I think technology is going to help in the long run. Thirdly we use technology to do lot of search and gather lot of data. We are a data driven economy today and we need to assess a lot of things and we need to keep assessing a lot of things depending on the purposes. So we use technology for gathering the data about the other party from across India or to gather information about particular company’s statutory information, economic information, any pending cases of litigation against them. That’s another way of using technology to your advantage and lastly we have started using Ai in our day to day operations. AI tools help you when it comes to drafting, when it comes to assessing the health of a company based on the previous litigations, based on the pending litigations. I have been using technology from the beginning of my career and I see technology as only and only an enabler and I think there is nothing as effective and as powerful as upcoming technology and one more point is there are people in our profession who think that the upcoming technology is a sort of a competition for us but I think an I have mentioned in my earlier platforms that it’s not s competition but you should have collaboration with the technology so that you can perform well in your profession.

Host: There are lots of young lawyers or young individuals who are entering this legal fraternity. What’s your suggestion for them? In a generic sense what is the right path to choose and how to set your goals and where to achieve them and how to find your way in legal fraternity?

Ajinkya: One thing that I will very honestly say is that you utilize the five years of your law school very very consciously. Two things that you need to focus on are A- Building a strong network and B- building a strong library in your mind. You need to be very conscious on fast reading, interpreting and grasping quickly, using the right words. Your speech and your vocabulary should be very impressive. Your way of speaking, your oratory skills play a big role in the profession and that’s about it. One shouldn’t be too pressured during law school. And second thing which I would like to say is that one should be very patient in terms of your profession. If you are getting into the profession, keep a horizon of a few years and always look back and see if you have made progress every six months. The progress should be made on three levels, one in your brain or knowledge, second in your pocket and third, it should be in your network.

If there is a progress in these three levels I think you are on the right track. I think law students shouldn’t be too pressured to perform well in 4-5 years of their career because it is a slowly developing career and after 7-8 years you yourself will not believe the kind of progress you are making every six months. Then there is no stopping. So patience and consistent development is very important post your law school.

You need to have a very calm peaceful temperament and you need to be extremely excited about your profession. If you don’t love it, you get bored with it, you feel that you are doing same things again and again, then you need to change that. Every Monday you should wakeup excited even when your clients are not paying you well because the matter is what should excite you.




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