By the book: In a talk with Shweta Bharti, Senior Partner, Hammurabi & Solomon Partners
The legal industry in India has long been dominated by 'black coat men'. The women who earlier sat few and far between the bench and at the bar, today are setting up their own trace, and with this, we can say that change must surely be around the corner. Similarly, we have Shweta Bharti, in the driving seat at Hammurabi & Solomon Partners (H & S), a law firm acknowledged for its mettle PAN India for unique and strategic expertise in Dispute Mangement, Policy & Regulation, Risk-Crisis-Reputatuion Management legal support, Corporate & Commercial, Real Estate & Infra, International Trade, IPR and Taxation across its 6 offices across India.
Nothing could be more enchanting for the woman who is chartering unknown territories unabashedly and fearlessly. Shweta has scripted her own success story in today's new age world. "The motivation to be an entrepreneur always seeded within which guided the right path towards fulfilling my dream," Shweta speaks on how she stepped into the entrepreneurial world. With the zeal in her heart, she moved to New Delhi for her higher studies, streamlining her education towards her goal. It was with this aspiration in mind that she opted for her Post Graduate Diploma in Management in Sales & Marketing and another one in International Business as well as studied Law. Shweta currently heads the Dispute Resolution and Litigation practice at the Firm. Nurturing the firm with her litigation strategy & business practices, Shweta is known as the 'most cooperative and diligent representative, as she makes sense of the ecosystem of the problem and provides a unique solution, making complex issues look very simple.
Shweta has held numerous positions of leadership in the legal community, both within India and Internationally. Her expertise ranges from Constitutional Law, International Law and Corporate Laws & Litigation to Human Rights and International Arbitration.
How does she celebrate her journey, let's hear from the leader herself…
Did you face any unusual situation doing business in India as a Women Entrepreneur?
India is changing and there is a lot of acceptability for women now as compared to the olden times while doing business. Thus while practicing Law in Metro Cities and Towns have not been difficult, the real challenge has been the remote towns where the women lawyers still are far and few. We as a Law Firm have cases across the country even in far flung areas, wherein we have noticed the dilemma and mistrust apparent in the minds of the Judges from granting relief to women lawyers. Similarly, we have noticed Clients coming up with crucial cases to our doorstep expressing their reluctance in entrusting their matters to women lawyers and there are times when the clients have specifically requested the matters to be dealt with by a Male Lawyer.
Throw some light on H&S and its offerings.
We are a full-service Law Firm, which has been operating as an established entity in the legal advisory market since the very onset of the millennium year. We have evolved as one of the most preferred law firms in India for most challenging and strategic issues owing to our out of the box approach. The firm is structured to respond to the ever-expanding needs of its clientele. While anticipating the future needs of these clients, the firm has focused on the developing areas of law. The attorneys and support staffs have all been carefully selected to provide clients with the highest degree of professionalism as a team responsive to the client's legal problems and needs.
We tirelessly strive to attain higher standards of "Excellence, Perfection & Commitment", to serve our valued clients through the complexities of the Law, Policy & Regulatory space in India. We do more than solving legal problems; we dedicate ourselves towards providing professional advice and experienced legal counsel in strategic planning leading to but restricted to business development. Our valued Clients include top tier corporations across sectors, business and trade associations, government bodies, public sector undertakings, foreign companies from all key jurisdictions, governments of numerous countries amd multi-lateral world bodies.
If you could describe yourself in a few words what would they be?
Very focused, hard-working, dedicated and a go-getter. I do not stop until I achieve what I set my goal for. That is how I would like to describe myself.
Did you have a mentor to guide you through your professional journey?
I have had various mentors during my professional journey without whom I would not have been able to walk the path I chose for myself. There were mentors who taught me how to walk the path and there were mentors whom I learnt from merely by watching them articulate their arguments in courts. However, my first guide and true mentor has been my mother who always inspired me to focus on my goals and provided me with the right guidance and support to achieve the same.
How are entrepreneurship and working women important for India?
Entrepreneurship has a very relevant role in India. The emerging women entrepreneurs are the role models for others to follow and that is a positive sign. Entrepreneurship not only gives financial independence but also shapes the dream of women and enables them to achieve what they aspire for in life. Further we have noticed that women with financial independence are more confident, self-assured and have the ability to take their decisions on their own. It has enabled a huge change in perception regarding women being a burden on the family and has also provided more acceptability towards girl child in our society. There is a clear orientation in families of working women to promote education even among their girl child and that has had a huge impact on the female foeticide.
Define a perfect business leader. What are the qualities you think a great leader possess?
A perfect business leader is the one who empowers and takes his/her team along. The most pertinent skill of a leader is the ability to inspire since unless our team does not look up to us for inspiration, they would not accept us as a Leader. The other key skills of a good leader is to have the right communication skills, be confident of the decisions he/she takes, possess the right commitment, have a positive attitude towards life as well as in resolving issues both critical and mundane and work with honesty and sincerity.
What advice would you give to other businesswomen who want to thrive in a male-dominated industry?
Follow your instincts and just manage your business with grit, determination, belief in yourself and hard work and success shall follow you.
How does a day in your life look like?
My day starts early at around 5.30 am since I have two school going daughters who leave home by 6.45 am. It is thereafter, that I get time to be with myself, either doing yoga or a morning walk which invigorates my mind for the day and then I leave for work early. Most often the morning hours are spent in Court and my meetings are fixed in the afternoon either in one of our offices or at Clients offices which takes up till about 5 pm where after the desk work of finalising the Petitions, strategizing on the matters, preparing the matters for the next day to begin.
After 8-8.30 pm when I reach home, my children and family have my full attention. I have a passion for reading and so after the kids are asleep, I try and spend some time with my books.
Describe the most memorable incident of your professional life.
There have been many highs and lows in my professional life. Every good order has been a huge high and to pick one out of the many shall be unfair. However one matter that I argued from start to finish during the early years of my career which went on for days with the Ld. Judge making a comment in the open Court regarding the hard work and able assistance put in by me gave me a huge high. Thereafter there have been many instances of receiving such good comments but that one matter remained in my heart forever.
One word that describes you the best…
If you had one piece of advice to rising entrepreneurs just starting out, what would it be?
Follow your heart and go for what you have set your goal for.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy my profession and cannot think of any other profession which would have given me so much sense of fulfilment and happiness from within.
What are your plans on retiring?
I do not have any plans for retirement since there is no prescribed age for retirement in legal profession. I shall work till I enjoy the profession and thereafter focus more on my other aspiration, i.e., to give back to society in whatever manner I can.
How would you like people to remember you and your company?
I would like people to remember me for the good work I have done and the creative solutions and advises that I rendered which enabled them to take their businesses farther. I would similarly like people to remember my organisation as a firm which delivers even the impossible by sheer hard work, focus and dedication of our dedicated team of professionals.
Is there anything you enjoy more than being an entrepreneur?
I enjoy being in the company of my Family and I like to just spend time with them, talk, play, read books together and do everything else that brings in togetherness.
If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you're the best in the world at?
I am good at everything that I do with complete dedication, focus and attention. I am still aspiring to be best at that one thing which is still to unravel itself.
Is the glass ceiling being cracked down in the Indian Legal Industry? Is this Significant? Yes, through Shweta's endeavour, we can see this.