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All about how to be your own lawyer

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October 14, 2008

Law runs deep in his blood. What else can you say about Ankoosh Mehta, a solicitor belonging to the fourth generation of a family of solicitors.

What's more the solicitor has now turned author with his debut book Learn To Be Your Own Lawyer In 30 Days: A Complete Guide For Everybody. This book, says 30-year-old Mehta, will NOT make a layperson into a lawyer.

"However, it attempts to throw light and give an insight into more than 70 different laws applicable in our country," he says.

After passing out from Government Law College, Mumbai, in 2000, when he was 22, Ankoosh appeared for the solicitors examination, an exam so tough that only 5 out of 100 actually clear it. Given his background and grip on matters related to law he cleared the exam in a breeze. Later he did his Masters in Commercial Law from Bombay University and at 30 he is an author of a book that took four years of rigorous research to complete.

In an e-mail interview with Prasanna D Zore, Ankoosh speaks about his family, his inspiration, his book and how lucrative a field law has become for young graduates.

Tell us something about yourself.

I belong to the fourth generation of a family of solicitors who run a century-old firm, Dikshit Maneklal & Co, Advocates and Solicitors, in Mumbai. Our firm advises leading banks, financial institutions and multinational companies in the country on property matters, arbitration, litigation, banking etc. In my personal capacity I am associated with KJ Somaiya Medical College, Mumbai as part of their Ethics Committee and HR College of Commerce & Economics, Mumbai.

I also hold a black belt degree in Taekwondo (WTF, South Korea).

What inspired you to write this book?

Newspapers have repeatedly reported that about 24 million cases and about 3.5 million cases are pending in the subordinate courts and High Courts of various states respectively. Delay and costs of litigation are stifling the common man. The basic problem one finds on closer scrutiny is that people do not wish to rush to seek legal advice but first want to know the basic importance of a legal matter and the consequences that follow.

People today want to know whom to approach in case they want to enforce their rights as consumers, sellers of property, buyers of property, etc. Another instance would be property law. A sizeable amount of properties today are trapped in court battles. Property owners, land owners today like to be more aware of the laws and precautions that are to be taken when dealing with property. So also, as far as marriage and divorce is concerned, parties to the marriage want to be fully aware of their rights etc. To add, it has taken me nearly four years of rigorous research to complete the book.

How helpful is this book to a layperson?

This book is not to make a non-lawyer into a lawyer. However, it attempts to throw light and give an insight into more than 70 different laws applicable in our country. Topics in the book are supplemented with examples and hypothetical situations to make understanding simpler.

Wherever, possible, I have added formats of agreements / specimens such as in the topic on partnerships in Partnership Deed and Sale Deed in the topic dealing with sale. Mortgage Deed is covered under mortgages. In the chapter on Wills, a sample of a will has been provided. According to the publishers � JAICO -- this book is the first of its kind in India.

How do you think your book can change the way law or related matters are viewed in India?

The book gives a basic understanding on the topics it covers. One should know the basic importance of a legal matter and the consequences which flow.

The book covers more than 70 topics on diverse laws. It deals with the law of sale and mortgage of property, contracts, partnership, law for the consumer protection and Trusts. It throws light on law relating to Equality of Opportunities for persons with disability etc. and talks about the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

For the corporates, I have briefly discussed the formation and incorporation of a company; issue of shares, liability of directors etc.

Businessmen will find a discussion on the rights and obligations of parties to a contract and dishonour of cheques interesting.

On the criminal side I have dealt with serious offences warranting rigorous imprisonment and also topics like relating to exploitation of women, etc.

A mediaperson, a filmmaker and people in diverse walks of life be a business person or a simple investor will also find some useful information on a particular topic for immediate clarification.

What kind of advance did you get for this book? What kind of royalty are you expecting from this book?

The publishers have followed the market practice as far as advance and royalty are concerned. My publishers have been extremely supportive and backed me on this project. As an author, they have given me a free hand to work on the book.

Tell us something about your childhood days and your family background�

I grew up in a nuclear family. I went to St Mary's School (ISC), Mumbai. I did my Class XI and XII from HR College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai and then pursued law. My father is a solicitor and a senior Supreme Court Advocate. My mother is a doctor (MBBS, MS) and teaches at D Y Patil, a reputed medical college in New Mumbai.

What will be your advice to those who want to pursue law as a career?

Today the field is far open than what it was less than 10 years ago. On the educational side, institutions offer diplomas in various fields such as information technology law, intellectual property rights laws etc. Law graduates can choose from a variety of options available to them. One can join a law firm, a legal department of a company, or start her / his own practice. Also, Indian legal outsourcing firms are offering good opportunities to young law school graduates as legal outsourcing business is gaining momentum.

As for numbers as many as 1,500 graduates pass out from Law colleges in Mumbai out of which half get absorbed in companies that deal in intellectual property rights (IPRs), debt recovery tribunals (DRTs), banking and real estate firms.

Depending on a person's calibre the monthly income of law school graduates range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,00,000 per month.

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