Vishwang Desai: A Trailblazer in Indian Corporate and Finance Law

Vishwang Desai | Managing Partner | Desai & Diwanji
Vishwang Desai | Managing Partner | Desai & Diwanji

In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of Indian law, one name shines bright as a beacon of excellence: Vishwang Desai, the Managing Partner of Desai & Diwanji, a revered legal institution known for its stellar reputation and unwavering commitment to providing exceptional counsel.

His expertise lies in the field of corporate and finance law, with a specialization in various aspects such as mergers and acquisitions, private equity, buy-outs, spin-offs, de-mergers, divestitures, project and structured finance, infrastructure and energy project development, cross-border transactions, FDI, corporate governance, competition, and regulatory matters. He has played a crucial role in intricate restructurings and buy-outs involving both public and private corporations of significant size.

Vishwang has effectively represented governments, government corporations, large public and private corporations, global private equity and hedge funds, lenders, and multilateral agencies in complex transactions spanning diverse sectors. His exceptional legal acumen has earned him recognition as a leading lawyer in numerous global publications, and he has consistently received several awards, including esteemed accolades like ‘lawyer of the year’ from various organizations.

A Shift in Objectives

Vishwang comes from a lineage deeply rooted in the legal profession. His father, grandfather, great-grand-uncle, and even his maternal grandfather all pursued careers as lawyers. Interestingly, despite his family background, Vishwang initially aspired to become a medical doctor. However, his plans took an unexpected turn when he faced difficulty gaining admission to his preferred medical school in Mumbai. While he had the opportunity to enrol in other medical schools across India, he made a deliberate decision to abandon his pursuit of medical science and instead pursue a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. This choice served as a realization of his limited interest in the field of medicine.

As he completed his undergraduate studies, Vishwang’s inclination towards studying law became increasingly evident, leading him to embark on a legal career.

Journey of Transformation and Expansion

Vishwang regards his most significant accomplishment as his instrumental role in transforming a family-oriented law practice into a prominent law firm that caters to a wide range of clients, including major domestic corporations, multinational companies, global funds, governments, and lenders. This achievement represents the successful expansion and evolution of the firm’s services, enabling it to handle complex legal matters for diverse entities on a significant scale. Vishwang takes great pride in the growth and development of the firm, which now stands as a prominent player in the legal industry, serving a diverse clientele at both national and international levels.

Passion for Legal Learning

Vishwang is an avid reader and dedicates considerable time to staying informed about the latest legal advancements. During weekends, he frequently visits various global legal websites, focusing on both technology and information platforms, to delve into new developments in the field. He values continuous learning and actively engages in regular meetings with his partners and junior colleagues, where they discuss and analyze the implications of recent legal developments. This collaborative environment allows them to explore how these developments can be effectively incorporated into their own practice.

Additionally, Vishwang is part of a select group comprising senior lawyers from different law firms. Within this forum, they engage in insightful discussions covering a wide range of topics, including emerging trends and innovative developments in the legal sphere.

Navigating the Challenges Faced by the Legal Industry in India

Vishwang identifies two primary challenges faced by the legal industry in India – people and cost management. Firstly, cost management remains a persistent challenge for law firms, irrespective of the economic climate. It is crucial to manage costs effectively without compromising on the firm’s requirements or the quality of services offered. Secondly, the quality, availability, and expectations of lawyers present an unfavorable blend, making it challenging to strike a balance between them. Finding the right talent, retaining them, and meeting client expectations while adhering to legal ethics and standards is a complex undertaking.

The dynamic nature of the legal profession demands a constant need for improvement and growth. Vishwang acknowledges that these challenges require proactive measures and a continuous effort to adapt to new developments and remain competitive.

The Key to Setting Lawyers Apart

Vishwang holds the belief that qualities such as skill, education, and commercial awareness, although valuable, may not necessarily distinguish one lawyer from their peers. He recognizes that many lawyers within a particular peer group often possess similar attributes and accomplishments. Instead, he emphasizes the significance of certain fundamental human qualities that can set a smaller group of lawyers apart.

These qualities include a genuine commitment to client interests, displaying respect towards clients and colleagues, and fostering a sense of accountability. Vishwang values these basic yet essential qualities that can sometimes be overlooked as individuals progress in their careers. By prioritizing these qualities, he aims to differentiate himself within the legal profession and create a distinct identity based on fundamental principles that serve the best interests of clients and contribute to a positive professional environment.

Building a Legacy

Vishwang’s long-standing goals revolve around building a top-quality law firm that garners the respect and loyalty of its clients. He doesn’t aspire to make Desai & Diwanji the biggest or a full-service law firm, as he sees several issues with that model without any significant benefits. Instead, he prioritizes being highly regarded in the firm’s chosen practice areas and providing exceptional legal services to clients.

By focusing on specific areas of practice, the firm can maintain a high level of expertise and deliver tailored solutions to clients’ legal needs. Vishwang believes that earning the trust and loyalty of clients is vital for building a successful and sustainable law firm. By sticking to these goals, he aims to create a legacy for Desai & Diwanji and establish the firm as a respected player in the legal industry.

The Artistic Odyssey

In a time when Indian art had few enthusiasts beyond the wealthy princely states, Vishwang’s father embarked on a remarkable mission. Driven by an unwavering passion for modern Indian art, he sought out hidden gems in the art world.

Discovering artists like Souza, Tyeb, Husain, Raza, Sabavala, Manjit, Ram Kumar, and others, his father became an early patron, despite their struggle for recognition. With time, these artists transformed into luminaries, earning acclaim and coveted spots in global and Indian auctions.

Within Vishwang’s family, a treasure trove emerged—a testament to his father’s discerning eye. Their collection showcased the brilliance of Tyeb, Souza, Husain, Manjit Bawa, and Sabavala, solidifying their artistic legacy.

Carrying forward his father’s love for art, Vishwang has spent 25 years nurturing and expanding their collection.

As a guardian of artistic expression, Vishwang cherishes every stroke and manifestation of creativity. It is believed by some that Vishwang’s family has some of the best works of these artists in a private collection. His collection is not just a gathering of valuable artworks but a testament to the enduring power of art itself. The world eagerly anticipates the unveiling of new masterpieces, woven by the hands of modern Indian artists, as Vishwang’s journey continues to captivate hearts and transcend boundaries.

Embracing Technology

Vishwang acknowledges that technology has become an indispensable part of the legal industry. He believes that just like any other industry, the legal industry must embrace technology to stay competitive. The legal profession uses a variety of software similar to its global counterparts for various purposes, such as accounting, billing, time management, operations, client and file management, and client tracking. Vishwang emphasizes that his firm is continuously exploring new technology and evaluating its potential benefits to improve its business operations.

A Prominent Perspective on Aspiring Leaders

Vishwang advises aspiring leaders who want to enter the legal industry to be aware of the challenges they may face. These challenges can range from personal attributes, such as lacking the necessary skills or business acumen, to structural challenges, like the cost of running a practice and the courts in which they can practice. He suggests that individuals carefully analyze the legal practice area that aligns with their personality and commercial and intellectual ambitions. This will help them in choosing the right sector of legal practice that suits their skill set.

Vishwang believes that despite the challenges, the legal industry presents great opportunities and can provide immense satisfaction if one is willing to work hard and overcome obstacles. He encourages aspiring leaders to develop a strong work ethic and build a solid network within the legal community. Additionally, he emphasizes that it is essential to stay updated on legal developments and trends to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive. With the right mindset and approach, one can build a successful career and make a meaningful impact in the legal industry.