New Delhi: Hitesh C Soni, a lawyer by profession, gets the Mahatma Gandhi Lifetime Achievement Award 2023 at 31 and is believed to be the youngest to get this award at such an early age. The award was conferred upon him by Smt. Miera Kumar, Former Speaker of Lok Sabha at a seminar on Economic Growth & National Integration held at India International Center in the national capital organized by India International Friendship Society. During a glittering ceremony held at India International Centre, New Delhi in the presence of a galaxy of noted personalities like Shri Lal Thanhawla, Former Chief Minister of Mizoram; and Smt. Khushbu Sundar, Charge Member, National Commission for Women, and other Ministers were present.
Hitesh C Soni received this award for his legal services and achievements. received the International Achiever’s Award 2023 in Dubai, Rashtriya Gaurav Award 2022 and was named the “Most Prestigious & Trusted Legal Leader in 2022” by the editor. The Global Lex-Falcon Awards Dubai 2022 and the Indian Achievers' Award 2021 were also given to him.
He started M/s Hitesh Soni and Associates, a Bombay law firm, in 2017. A first-generation lawyer opening a Bombay practice at 26 is rare in the profession of law.
Story of Hitesh C Soni
Mr. Soni’s family has a business background and hails from the scenic town of Mt. Abu. Though law or litigation had little to do with his surroundings, he found an avid fan of the field in his father, he fondly recalls how his father would read the Indian Constitution or eagerly watch courtroom dramas. Like father like son, Mr. Soni too, fell in love with the field the more he learned about it. However, unlike the tempestuous passion of a young person, his love for law was more mature and deep. It stemmed from a place of admiration and respect. A thirteen-year-old Mr. Soni would be often found reading books of law meant for people much older than him. His father provided him with any and all books he could find on the subject. A voracious reader, he never had to join a preparation center for his law entrance exams as he kept up his habit of devouring books and study material. Therefore, it comes as little surprise when he joined a law college in Jodhpur, what a change it must have been from cool and calm Mt. Abu to the hot and bustling Jodhpur!
While colleges are a difficult transition to make in a person’s life, a law school for a first-generation lawyer is a whole new level. Imagine co-existing with children of other well-established advocates, wondering how to go about an assignment while they have their whole careers charted out. Unfortunately, this gets worse in law schools and further deteriorates as one climbs up the ranks. Without a clue about where he was going to intern or what subjects he was going to prioritize, Mr. Soni landed a coveted internship under Late. Justice Rajesh Balia, former Chief Justice of Patna High Court. Two months in law school, he candidly approached Late Justice Balia and expressed an ardent desire to learn from him. For the first two months, Mr. Soni was given no work. While most would have considered this a waste of time and left for other opportunities, he viewed it from a different perspective. With immense patience and work ethic, Mr. Soni developed a faith in Justice Balia who began giving him more and more assignments as time went by. During his time there, he is said to have read over 2000 odd files and learned the practical application of the law. Whenever he struggled to understand advanced concepts, he would read the concerned bare acts, whether or not it had been covered in his syllabus.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that he began practicing the very next day he enrolled as a counsel. In a short period, he had over thirty matters he was dealing with at the High Court of Jodhpur. As in any great story, things go awry the moment circumstances become happy. So did Mr. Soni. One fine day he decided to leave his established practice in Jodhpur for the Bombay high court. He is said to have locked his rooms, packed a few clothes, and moved to Bombay with no plan or any idea of what he was going to do, other than a desire to practice law at a bigger and better platform
While life had never been easy for him, Mr. Soni suddenly found himself in a strange conundrum. No clients, no cases, no contacts, and neither a ‘god-father’. Life in Mumbai as a fresh-out-of-law-school lawyer can get excruciatingly difficult without these. In times like these, anybody would have jumped at the offer Mr. Soni rejected. An offer to join a tier one law firm as a part of its Associate-body. And the reason for rejection makes Mr. Soni all the more respectable to any admirer of law. He did not want any restrictions on what clients he could take on and his strategy for the case. It was on a matter of principle that Mr. Soni let go of an offer and continued to count on himself. This big risk, big reward behavior did not always fetch a reward. Mr. Soni – with an undercurrent of pain – recalls this one client who approached him just when Mr. Soni was running out of money and options. After begging him to help his imprisoned brother out of jail, without a guarantee for payment, the client vanishes. Of course, not before Mr. Soni spent the last of his money on paper-work. Things looked grim, hope was little and I wish one could survive on ambition.
They say the night’s darkest hour is right before the dawn breaks. Synonymous with this is how things went down for Mr. Soni. One other client approached him. This person had over fifteen cases pending which involved the highest authorities of the land. The disputed sum ranged approximately to One Hundred Twenty-Four Crores! In dispute since 2012, the client had left all hopes of a resolution. It was within weeks that Mr. Soni argued in the court of Bombay High Court and resolved the matter after a few hearings. I wonder what motivated him to take on another client after one had duped him of his money. How much faith did a fresh graduate have to have in his abilities to argue a dead-locked matter in the high court and resolve in a single hearing what could not be resolved for years. Of course, it is tempting to owe this all to ‘fortune’ or ‘luck’ or the ‘grace of the all-mighty’. However, his life and more aptly his career is evident as to how Mr. Soni creates his own fortune, carves his own luck, and remains forever humbled and grateful for the almighty God.
Since then, has never looked back and has been successfully practicing in the High Court of Bombay, with two offices in the city of Mumbai, and one office in New Delhi juggling over a thousand clients of international repute, and doing it all with his head held high with love, support and companionship of his better half – Mrs. Vaishali H. Soni. The moral we derive from his story is to count yourself as your life depends on it, because it literally does. Also to be patient and have faith, all things worth having take time.
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