Wah! Moments of a legal professional
As we keep moving through the last quarter of the year, I hope there will be some frenzied work moments for all of us and we will get to do some fantastic work for our clients and stakeholders. After all, it is indeed some of the most challenging and high-intensity work that we do for our clients which shapes our professional identity. Undoubtedly, there is no greater satisfaction than to see our work has truly helped someone who believed and trusted us with their concerns, claims and money.
Today, I would like to talk to you about my experience with client satisfaction – the Wah! moments that came and about some that did not. Deep down, professional services are connected by a common objective of client success leading to client satisfaction. I do hope that you will be able to relate to my account here with your own experience.
Wah! Moment Through some Old Fashioned Legal Research
My first experience of a Wah moment came from a refinancing transaction that I handled fairly early in my career. The refinancing had, amongst others, a critical challenge: the lenders contributing to the refinancing would join the arrangement in phases. This meant that the security package had to be re-created multiple times leading to large stamp duty. The quantum of the stamp duty proved to be a stumbling block in the way of the deal.
It took days for the team to find a solution but the solution came through a rather elegant mechanism. A couple of old case laws pointed out that a trust structure with a provision for accession by future lenders would solve the problem of paying stamp duty multiple times. The borrower and the arranger were truly pleased with such a simple but effective solution leading to huge savings.
The Wah! moments are about solving the unsolvable. However, behind the magic remains very thorough legal research and sound strategy – something that is getting scarce in the physical world with each passing day!
The two case laws came from an old-style book maintained by a senior partner who knew exactly where to look when the deal team went to have a discussion with him. How would you get access to a case book like that – arranged issue wise and smartly hand tagged?
Today’s lawyers do not carry casebooks anymore and, therefore, they ought to have far stronger digital resources at their command to whip out the exact case law in minutes which would roundly support their proposition.
Wah! Moment through Technology
I fondly recall another instance when in litigation; an application was required to be filed for an urgent stay. Given the volume of documents and scores of interviews with relevant client personnel, the client expected at least a week to file the application. It was quite clear to us that every day of delay would cost the client. A very determined team worked two nights at a stretch to produce a draft application which was moved ex-parte on the third day by a well-known senior counsel in Delhi and the client got a very favourable stay.
I knew it was one of those rare Wah! moments. What worked particularly for us, in this case, was a superb transcription software which immediately reproduced the oral interviews in written document form thus leading to critical savings in time. Frankly, I was sceptical initially about the suggestion to use the software but once I started using it there was no turning back.
A Blind Date at the Court – Missing the Wah! Moment
Let me give an example of missing a Wah moment. I was representing a well-known industrialist who had just sold his business and was seeking to recover the last instalment of the payment which sat in an escrow account. Just before the deadline of withdrawing the funds, my clients were served with several notices for recovery of indemnity amounts. We wanted to injunct the escrow agent from paying anything to the purchaser so we went before a judge of the Bombay High Court with our application. A very well- known senior counsel appeared but we were somewhat blind as to the Judge’s previous trend with respect to an injunction against contractual payment. The Judge refused and we drew a blank despite heavy expense made by the client. In the longer run, my connection with the client became weaker.
I cannot but help to think that going to court without viewing the analytics of the judge is taking such a huge gamble! After all, there is only so much that human memory can digest, process and remember on demand.
As a young lawyer, I do see how the adoption of technology can increase the Wah! moments in a professional’s daily life. In fact, I distinctly see a move by clients to retain those advisors who are skilled to combine their own experience with superior technology. That’s why in Riverus, I have sought to create solutions which I believe will directly improve the effectiveness of lawyers and professionals. I would be keen to know the areas where you believe technology could contribute to your work. Do write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week we have got a series of useful case summaries and articles with case digests.
- One case summary relates to the powers of the AO when a case is remanded for a limited and identified issue.
- Another case summary is with respect to the allowability of commission paid by pharmaceutical companies to doctors.
- The article will be on Section 14A – a place where I see a significant upsurge in litigation.
I curate the case laws personally and also review the end product. Nothing would please me more to know that these were useful to you.
Enjoy a productive week and also the Riverus experience!
Written by Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Founder @ Riverus