Who has helped you along the way and what have you done to pay that help forward?
I’m grateful for the many senior attorneys who have guided and encouraged me throughout my career. Some gave me responsibilities as a young lawyer that they easily could have handled themselves or delegated to someone with more experience than me. Some went out of their way to increase my profile both inside and outside the firm. All of those experiences allowed me to develop important skills and build confidence in myself.
I find it particularly fulfilling to pay it forward by mentoring aspiring and current law students and junior lawyers. I have been involved in a number of pipeline and mentorship programs, and also regularly advise students and lawyers interested in pursuing careers in my practice area.
What are some challenges you've faced in your legal career as a Man of color? (Why do you think these challenges are unique to men of color?)
I’m proud of my South Asian heritage and my parents, who came to this country with few resources and worked hard to give me opportunities they never had. As the first in my family to join the legal profession—like many attorneys of color—I did not have family or social ties to the legal field, early access to mentors, or the information and informal networks that often accelerate career development. For many attorneys of color, this knowledge and resource gap can inhibit professional growth and produce feelings of alienation or isolation. These challenges, in turn, contribute to the disproportionate levels of attrition among minority attorneys.
What advice do you have for other men of color in their first five years of practice?
- It goes without saying that working hard and consistently delivering excellent work is the most important element of success. You will encounter challenges along the way, but should view them as drivers of success rather than obstacles to growth.
- Be proactive and take charge of your career. Develop clear and concrete goals, and seek advice from mentors and other sources of support as you pursue those goals. Keep in mind that the best mentors may not always look like you.
- Being a smart and hardworking lawyer is not enough. It is important to cultivate relationships both inside and outside your organization. Actively pursue ways, beyond your client work, to contribute to your organization and to the broader community.
- Practice self-care and try to find balance. Practicing law is often demanding, unpredictable, and stressful. Find your own ways of managing the pressure, spending time with your family and friends, and pursuing your passions outside the law.
Tell us about some of your hobbies outside of practicing law.
I have been trained in a number of Indian traditional musical instruments, which I hope to resume playing regularly soon. I’m also an avid sports fan and, more recently, have started to enjoy cooking shows (and am working on developing my own abilities in that area).
What are some personal experiences you've had along the way that have helped you in your career?
In commemoration of the 10th Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono this month, I’d like to highlight the impact pro bono work has had on my career. As noted above, pro bono work is part of our duty as lawyers and, more fundamentally, is the right thing to do. I’ve had the privilege of working on a number of pro bono civil, criminal, immigration, and family law matters over the years. Being able to help individuals fighting for their physical safety, their livelihoods, and their families’ wellbeing has been immensely meaningful to me, personally and professionally. Pro bono work has also had a collateral benefit on my professional growth, as it afforded me early opportunities to examine witnesses, argue in court, and develop other important advocacy skills. I encourage young lawyers to take advantage of available pro bono opportunities from the outset of their careers.