Vandana Shah and Associates: Exceptional and Personalised Legal Services

Vandana Shah, Founder, Vandana Shah and Associates | Insight Success | Business Magazine in India

The Indian Society, however progressive, still considers Divorce as a taboo. There are various myths and prejudices attached to the whole process of divorce. Life becomes even more complicated for women who are just out of wedlock. With a steely resolve, Vandana Shah along with her support group is trying to change this outlook, one divorce case at a time.
In the following Interview with Insights Success, she shares her story of fighting for herself and more like her.

  1. Brief us about yourself and your company

Vandana Shah, the award winning Divorce Lawyer, Author and Columnist, who has been fighting to get justice to numerous women across the social demographic has now been empanelled by the prestigious National Commission for Women to represent cases filed by women or against them in the state of Maharashtra – which are specifically referred by National Commission for Women.
Renowned lawyer and columnist, Vandana has a thriving law practice, and specializes in Divorce cases.  BBC has made a documentary, ‘Invisible Women of India, about her work. She is also the author of ‘Ex-Files-The Story of my divorce’ published by Penguin under the Shobhaa De imprint. Ex-Files is now part of the Judicial College syllabus. Vandana has been involved with the family court since 2001 in varying roles as a litigant then a counsellor in running India’s first support group – “360 degrees back to life”, has been lauded by Gloria Steinem, the world’s foremost feminist who has endorsed her previous book.
She has also translated a book written by the Jain Saints. Her work has been lauded both by the National as well as the International media.  She has been a panellist frequently on BBC, NDTV amongst others and at various Literary Festivals.
She is also Divorce Law Consultant for Priyanka Chopra’s new film Firebrand, directed by Arunaraje Patil, currently trending on Netflix and nominated for several Mahrati film awards.

  1. Kindly brief us about the initial journey and your contribution towards the upliftment of the of the company?

With a paltry sum of Rs. 750, I was the Daughter in Law of a respectable family out on the streets at about 2am in the night with nothing but tears in my eyes, bewilderment at the cruelty of my new found family of my husbands, yet When I walked out, I had dreams in my heart and the grit and determination to survive. I said to myself, “I must amount to something in life. No one will ever trample upon me again because I will be a ‘somebody’, and the ‘something’ that this ‘somebody’ eventually did was to not only turn my own life around full 360 degree!) but also helped thousands of other women, in similar predicaments seeking a new identity and meaning to life.
My own divorce took 10 long years, but instead of sitting and moping around looking for sympathy or being a victim, I decided to be a ‘Victor’. I set up India’s first non-judgmental divorce support group for those going through a divorce, which challenges the mores of a patriarchal middle-class society that obviously has different rules and expectations for women and then, wrote a book ‘360 degrees back to life – a litigant humorous perspective on divorce’ based on the experiences of the support group.
Each time, a new obstacle came I just learned to either jump over it or sidestep it. My father who was a fighter pilot with the Indian Air taught me how to shoot down problems as though they are the enemy and my mum taught me how to be a risk taker. So essentially, I would think that the path to be extremely empowered and successful in life is to let go of negativity and only focus on positivity.

  1. What are the distinct areas of practice of the company?

The primary focus of Vandana Shah and Associates is Family Law. We have experience of cases in Mumbai and other parts of India.
As I have recently been empanelled by the National Commission for Women to handle sexual assault cases for them my firm has also begun to handle sexual assault cases referred to us by the NCW. These cases are handled pro-bono by myself and my associates.
I have also recently branched out into consumer law. This is still an underdeveloped area of Indian law as not many Indians are aware of their rights in this area. I feel they would benefit greatly from the experience I can
In addition to litigation offered by Vandana Shah and Associates we also have an application called Divorcekart, India’s first legal app that focuses on answering legal queries regarding divorce instantly. The App is available free on both IOS and Android platform. It serves as an online help platform for those couples, who may feel that the marriage is over, and is unsure of their legal rights and process if and when they file the divorce. The app is only being a help platform to understand one’s legal rights and would not recommend or advise any person to end a marriage or continue with it.
Divorcekart is currently manned by a team of legal experts vetted and trained by myself. There is always a lawyer available around the clock 24/7 even in the night shift. The advocates at Divorcekart also carry out legal research related to Divorcekart ensuring they are up to date with all the latest legal matters.

  1. Share with us challenges faced by law firms in India?
    i) The judicial system being clogged up means cases take too long to resolve.
    ii) Since cases take long to resolve clients become impatient and frustrated often losing faith in the legal system.
  2. Please share with us the firm’s view on the gap between Law Formulation and Law Enforcement

As we put on our best face forward for India’s Independence Day celebrations, I experienced a chest-thumping kind of pride for our values reflected in the Constitution and Fundamental Rights guaranteed to every citizen of Free India. Several brave judgements by the judiciary—ranging from the 12 June 1975 verdict of the Allahabad High Court convicting then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices and debarring her from holding any elected post, to the Supreme Court in March 2015 striking down Section 66A of the IT Act which allowed unjustified arrests for “objectionable” content online—have been hailed as reflecting the kind of freedoms that only a mature society would allow an individual. A free and progressive judiciary determines whether a country’s fabric is healthy and robust or if it’s a combustible country like North Korea and certain nations in Africa and the Middle East which have little or no judicial system to speak of.
Did you know we are entitled to free drinking water even in coffee shops? Or that there is recourse to being refused a ride by an auto driver?
The judiciary in India can’t be bought, contrary to what some may have felt in the cases of powerful stars such as Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt. After all, for every one of these there is a Subrata Roy who despite being one of the wealthiest industrialists in the country has spent time in jail (of course writing books from there), or a Chhagan Bhujbal who in spite of being the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in cooling his heels in prison.
However, what dilutes the impact of these path-breaking judicial decisions is the complete ignorance displayed by a majority of people when it comes to law. And if and when they do become entangled in legal matters they are at a complete loss. How can we not build awareness of the law when it is one of the strongest pillars of society and a country? It’s like living in a swanky high rise without knowing whether there is a safe and strong foundation. Our role has to go beyond uninterested and cynical to involved and pro-active to form well-informed opinions. Perhaps then it won’t be as easy to be dismissive of the law and believe and act on what is rightfully granted to us. The law is not a lofty ideal encased in a gilded vault with the keys with only a fortunate few—rather, it is enmeshed in our daily lives. Did you know we are entitled to free drinking water even in coffee shops, which often force us to buy overpriced bottled water, claiming that the regular stuff is not available? Or that there is recourse to being refused a ride by an auto driver (I am sure that everyone, especially those in Delhi, are jumping to find out what that is!)?
Perhaps it’s time to pull out our phones and start googling “Fundamental Rights in India”, rather than going through the rest of our lives blindly. Also remember this, ignorance of law is not an excuse for having committed a crime and you’ll have to serve time. So if in doubt it’s better to check to see if you’re running afoul or not!
Now that our nation has been free for seven decades, let us also free ourselves from ignorance of the law to rightfully claim our place in the sunrise of India.

  1. What should be your advice for budding start-ups and entrepreneurs in the industry?

The most important thing is to have a clear business plan before setting out. I had a very clear idea for Divorcekart which was to democratise legal solutions and give the power back to the litigant by shedding light and transparency on a hidden area of law. You must chalk out a plan to get to your desired destination and along the way keep customizing it to achieve your goal.
Secondly be prepared to learn constantly. As my start up is in the I.T sphere I am constantly adapting and learning concerning that industry. Not adapting to the circumstances just leads to futile hard work instead of productive smart work.
Thirdly remember there’s no failure but changed opportunities is what our mindset should be. No guts, no glory. Remember if you never take a risk you will never prosper.

  1. Brief us about your company’s future prospects

Divorcekart and Vandana Shah and Associates will become a global one stop solution for all legal issues. We are creative, original and hardworking so to be leaders in the noble profession of law is our destiny

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