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Will is a document that ensures your wishes with respect to your assets and property are followed after your death. Problems and complications arise when a person dies interstate i.e. without leaving a Will behind.

Do not thus put off writing a Will since it can put the survivors behind you in great predicament after you.


A Will is defined as “The legal declaration of the intention of the testator, with respect to his property, which he desires to be carried into effect after his death.” In other words, a Will or a Testament means a document made by a person whereby he disposes of his property, but such disposal comes into effect only after the death of the testator.

Codicil is an instrument made in relation to a Will, explaining, altering or adding to its dispositions and is deemed to be a part of the Will.

Executor is the legal representative for all purposes of a deceased person and all the property of a testator vests in him.

Legatee/Beneficiary is a person who inherits the property under a Will.

Probate is a copy of the Will, duly certified under the Seal of a competent Court.

Testator is a person making a Will and executing it.

Essential features:
The documents purporting to be a Will or a testament must be executed by a person legally competent to make it;

Every person, capable of making a Will must be:

o not a minor;
o of sound mind;
o free from fraud, coercion or undue influence;

The declaration should relate to disposition of the property of the person making the Will;

The declaration as regards the disposal of the property must be intended to take effect after his death;

The Will must be properly signed and witnessed;

It must be initialled by the testator at the end of every page and next to any correction/alteration;

There are no language restrictions on writing of a Will. A Will can be written in any language, the words, however, should be clear and unambiguous so that the intention of the testator is reflected in his Will.

Stamp Duty
No Stamp duty is required to be paid for execution of a Will or a Codicil.

Attestation and Registration:
A Will must be attested by two witnesses, who must witness the testator executing the Will. The witnesses should sign in the presence of each other and in the presence of the testator;

It is not mandatory for a Will to be registered.
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Stare Decisis and Techniques of Legal Reasoning and Legal Argument

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Set up a Law Firm — Entrepreneur India

Set up a Law Firm

You might be a very capable lawyer, but running a business around your skills and qualifications is altogether a different ballgame. However, like all things business, having a plan and going step-by-step will make it a cakewalk.Registrations & Qualifications
To practice law in India, you must be at least 21 years old and hold a law degree from any Indian or foreign university recognized by the Bar Council of India. You must also be registered with any of the State Bar Councils in India. Although you can start your own firm as a fresher with guidance from established lawyers, a few years of work experience will not hurt at all.Practice Development Planning
A ‘Practice Development Plan’ is necessary to help you evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and the resources required to set up a law firm. This evaluation will give you a road map as well as a timetable for where you have to go and when to get there. Proper practice development planning begins with deciding on the kind of entity you propose to establish: a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Both these entities have their own pros and cons. For example, in a partnership, you could diversify your areas of expertise and quickly obtain additional sources of capital and clients. On the other hand, in a sole proprietorship, you will have increased flexibility, play a lead role in assignments, and can develop direct relationships with clients. Eventually, your practice’s growth will dictate when and how you will scale up.Name your firm
You would want to get the name of your law practice out to as many potential clients as possible. The name should be easy to remember and should relate to your practice. If you are setting up your practice with partners, you may consider a neutral name, the names of all the partners, or an acronym.The Practice Area
You should be certain about the areas in which you wish to practice. It is food to focus on more than one practice area; so, besides your core competency, also include the general practice of law. In many cases, clients have diverse legal needs and prefer ‘cheap generalists’ to expensive specialists. A general practice can thus develop into a more specific practice, based on clients’ needs and emerging market requirements.Location & Office Space
A lawyer’s office should be strategically located and accessible to existing and potential clients. If your main practice area is litigation, renting a chamber within the court complex in addition to your primary office may be a good idea.If you intend to set up a transactional-centric law practice, an office in a commercial building could be your best bet. On an average, 150 square feet of usable area per lawyer is required. In addition, you will need space to set up your reception, library, accounts department, IT department, etc.Practice Development
Once set up, the next step is to develop your client base. To achieve this, you should become a member of the several Indian and international chambers of commerce and bar associations, such as your local bar associations, the International Bar Association, FICCI and ASSOCHAM.You should also enter your firm in noteworthy international law directories, including Martindale Hubbell and the Asia Pacific Legal 500. You could also identify and execute a strategic alliance with foreign law firms, as this could result in a cross-referral of work.Lawyers & Staff
Engagement programs need to be developed to attract and retain committed, enthusiastic lawyers who will increase your firm’s profitability. To avoid misunderstandings with other lawyers, retainership agreements are commonly executed, detailing the terms of compensation and retention. These agreements should set monthly or annual billing targets in order to increase the productivity and efficiency of your lawyers.You should also develop a team of of-counsels, chartered accountants, company secretaries and consultants to serve your clients’ needs. Keeping the right employees actively involved in your practice is critical for long-term profitability and growth.Appointing a team of competent administrative staff—office managers, a receptionist, a chief information officer, IT technicians, accountants, support staff—is critical to the sustenance of your practice as well. Do practice the same diligence in their appointment.Accounts & Billing
The most important part of setting up and sustaining your law practice will be getting your clients to pay. Knowing a client’s preference regarding the wording or presentation of invoices is very helpful.Clients often have difficulty in paying for something they cannot see or feel, such as your professional advice. The source of information for invoices is your time records.If you have recorded all the work you have performed, preparing invoices will be a matter of transferring the narration of the services rendered from your time records to the invoices.To avoid any misunderstanding regarding the payment of your professional fees, you should draft your fee engagement agreement carefully; describe the scope of work and the fee you would charge for it.Technology
You must devote substantial time and resources to the protection of your data and information from unauthorized use. It is important to ensure that data and information is not damaged due to technical problems. Keep a regular backup of all your data at an offsite location as part of your disaster management plan.Advertising & Website
The Bar Council of India Rules initially prohibited an advocate from soliciting work or advertising, either directly or indirectly. Last year, however, the rule was amended to allow only the following information to be advertised. However, this also can only be advertised on the internet and not on print, radio or television:(1) Name of the firm
(2) Address, telephone numbers and e-mail id
(3) Your enrollment number, the date of enrollment, the name of State Bar Council where you originally enrolled, the name of the State Bar Council on whose roll name you currently stand, and the name of the Bar Association of which the advocate is a member
(4) Professional and academic qualifications.
(5) areas of practice.

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How to start up your own law firm | Analysis | Legally India - News for lawyers | Indian law firm, law school & student news and community |

Are you dreaming of becoming the next Zia? India is the world's only major legal market where you can still do more than just dream.

Legally India has asked more than a dozen legal entrepreneurs for their advice on how to live that dream.

"If you feel if you are not able to achieve what you want in larger firms with larger brand names, there is enough work to sustain and flourish when you set up on your own," claims Lex Counsel's co-founder Dimpy Mohanty.

Why would you?
"The usual reasons," muses Lexygen founder Vijay Sambamurthi, "the entrepreneurial bug more than anything else."

ABM Law Associates founder Abhishek Mathur blames aspiration: "It's something I've always wanted to do."

IP Gurus founder Pooja Dodd says she was looking for professional independence when she set up a new IP boutique earlier this year.

Indus G&D Law co-founder Gaurav Dani move to found Induslaw was "prompted simply because we couldn’t see ourselves working in those family driven firms".

That angle can be significant from a financial perspective too. Tight, family or 'lala firm' equity and organisational structures often make the idea of creating your own equity attractive.

"If successful, there is more money in this model than anywhere else," claims Indus' Dani. He explains that financially, he is now in a much better position than he would have been had he stayed at some of the large firms where he would probably be a partner or on track to partnership.

"One good feeling you have when working on your own is you think that the sky's the limit and you can do a lot of things," recalls Legal Spectrums' founder Asim Abbas.

Bright strategies
"Money is important but there's also such a thing as dream and a passion," explains Dani about Induslaw's initial idea. "There is a huge market in the mid-market area and there's no law firm offering that service and we felt that a law firm could tap into the market."

"What I thought was that there is no telecom law firm in the market," says Legal Spectrums Asim Abbas, who started up a niche telecoms practice.

Lexygen went for the niche private equity field.

But near full-service start-ups also exist and bright ideas do not just have to be restricted to an area of law.

"I had – and continue to have - certain strong ideas, how to build an organisation and what kind of organisation to work for myself," Lexygen's Sambamurthi told Legally India. "I figured the most effective and convincing way of doing it is to put my own equity into it."

Narasappa, Doraswamy & Raja was set up in 2006 on the premise of the three founding partners all having significant overseas experience and being "able to offer clients international drafting style at Indian price", explains the firm's co-founder Siddharth Raja.

Small hurdles
The barriers of entry in India – at least for local lawyers - are very low, whereas liability insurance and huge property costs can make it all but impossible to break into London or New York's legal scene.

"A maximum of about Rs 2 lakhs is sufficient to have a proper office at home," says Legal Spectrum's Abbas.

He explains that there are two different models for establishing a law firm. "The first is that you go for heavy investment in terms of infrastructure and lawyers' costs, which requires a lot of capital. Once you have everything in place, you get a revenue stream and clients."

"I followed a different model," he continues. "Start low with low infrastructure development and get clients and a revenue stream fast and follow on from there."

Abbas began in January 2008 and today still operates from his residence together with three other lawyers who also operate from their homes, although a real office is soon on the cards.

A disadvantage, he says, is that he has lost clients demanding a "proper" team and office, despite his long-time industry and client contacts. "But rightly so," he admits, "because an office and team give a comfort level to the client."

While the rate of growth with such a model can be lower, so is the risk.

"Because overhead costs are less you can survive on very minimal billing and in bad times, people look for cheaper options," argues KNM & Partners co-founder Vipender Mann. "There is an opportunity for small firms to survive."

Why wouldn't you?
Running a law firm is very different from working in one. Say what you will about law being a profession, at the end of the day you will be in charge of a business.

IP Gurus now has a team around five but Dodd says that nevertheless, as an individual you end up wearing a lot of different hats, doing admin, HR and everything else that is usually taken care of behind the scenes. And that is on top of getting clients and generating fees.

"It has been a lot more difficult than anticipated, but I'm surviving," she jokes.

Leaving the fold of a larger law firm will also see you waving goodbye to big-ticket transactions and brand equity for the foreseeable future.

"Goodwill is a big problem," agrees KNM's Mann. "Initially you have a big problem convincing people who you are." Often clients will also like the assurance of an established firm, which can be more comfortably blamed if transactions should go wrong.

Lex Counsel's Mohanty complains: "Particularly with government projects, they don't consider your previous experience in previous law firms - they want your experience to be in the firm where you're pitching for work."

Clients will instinctively also be looking to squeeze new firms on price, particularly if pitching against the established players. "People expect you to be rather low down with the billing, which is not what you want to project," she says.

An unknown brand also puts you into a difficult human resource Catch 22, without a flood of unsolicited CVs landing on your desk every day as is the case at the big firms.

ABM's Mathur says that for a start-up it is very important to have a "quality team" but most start-up firms do not have the deep pockets to hire the best or most experienced people in the market.

Managing cash flow is another initial challenge. "It is a shock to adjust," remembers Abbas. "I started Legal Spectrum in January and got my first payment in May – for four months there was no payment. If someone does not have the buffer for four or five months, you will have sleepless nights."

Branding can also make recovery harder, as larger firms often have the leverage to gently force clients to pay-up, despite clients themselves also suffering under a cash crunch.

"You need the money but clients do tend to take much longer than what you were either promised or expected," recounts ABM's Mathur. "And you have to be very careful with a client, because you can't be seen to be harsh or impatient to get the money."

How do you?
"It was hard initially," remembers Indus' Dani. "But we started getting small work, some advice, some opinion work and started to do that work to keep it ticking. And somehow you end up in a transaction and you end up with more than you can handle."

But before you rush to hand in your notice, good planning is vital.

"My advice is to make sure to know exactly what you're getting into – look at things you would never imagine," advises IP Gurus' Dodd. She says that initially she was doing almost no legal work and mostly dealt with recruiting, establishing systems, writing firm and lawyer profiles, trying to build a website (and seeking permission from the Bar Council of India) and more.

A good business plan should also include a good idea of where your money will come from.

"Ultimately for a law firm, when you leave, the biggest support comes from your existing client base," says Phoenix Legal co-founder Abhishek Saxena, adding that it is not easy for a start-up to get support from new clients.

Before leaving, most entrepreneurial lawyers therefore test the waters. "[Start-ups] generally discuss with their clients, 'if I start on my own, will you support me?', or they have some kind of understanding with in-house counsel or CEOs," sayd KNM's Mann.

While some small mandates might be thrown the start-up's way, many bigger clients' hands are often tied when it comes to institutionalised adviser relationships.

Family connections can help but will not replace hard work.

If you are leaving with a crowd, you should also be very clear on how costs, revenues and responsibilities are shared. "You need to make sure that you are along same wavelength," says Phoenix's Saxena.

"In the current day and age you'll have to spend more time with your partners than with your better half - you need to have a clear business plan charted out," he quips.

Golden years
All lawyers interviewed for this article report they are doing well and are happy with their career choice.

But this is perhaps not a surprise. 2003 to 2008 were the "golden years", remembers S&R Associates co-founder Sandip Bhagat, who set up in 2005. Most Indian firms grew very rapidly in that period but since then the market has gotten a lot more crowded and the economy has slowed.

So is it now too late to become the next ALMT, AZB, JSA, Luthra & Luthra or Trilegal?

"There is far more intense competition," agrees ABM's Mathur. "There is scope for another 100 similar placed law firms like me, there's enough work for everyone, but I don't know how fast you can become a law firm with a critical size, revenue and all-India presence now."

Nevertheless, opportunities exist to enter the big league, particularly if start-ups start merging and establishing a national presence, as many plan to do.

"It is not at all too late to start, there is enough depth in the market," claims Indus's Dani.

Phoenix's Saxena adds that "if you are confident in your abilities I don't think there is a real risk".

However, it will be a long road. All legal entrepreneurs agree that perseverance, hard work and consistency are the key qualities required.

After all, for the first few years your baby will only ever be as good as its last piece of advice.

But it will also be your very own baby.

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How To Get New Clients For Your Law Firm

Your law firm needs new clients in order to stay in business. Many law firms do not actively market their services and thus miss many potential clients. Since the demand and supply dynamics keep changing, it is crucial to keep ahead of competition and promote your services. Here are some methods of reaching out to potential clients.

1) Referrals

Most law firms get in touch with potential clients through a network of common friends and acquaintances. See who among them know potential clients, and (subtly) ask them to refer your firm to those who might be looking for the services of an attorney.

2) Website

Having a well designed, informative website is crucial for law firms looking for new clients. Most people look up law firms on the Internet, and you can make things easier for them by putting up online forms they can fill if they need more information about your services. Search engine optimization is also crucial if you want people to find you through search engines. Hire the services of an SEO firm to ensure that your website is ranked high on search engines.

3) Seminars

Attend seminars and conventions to publicize the services offered by your law firm. Give speeches and interact with the audience. Try to give small gifts to members of the audience you think may be potential clients or lead you to potential clients. You can also ask for the business cards of these people.

4) Membership of Organizations

Join organizations you think can promote your business. See if the organization has members who are potential clients. Ask your clients if they are members of a particular organization. Never join an organization that cannot help you get in touch with new clients.

5) Advertising

Advertise your services in local radio shows, TV programs, Yellow Pages, and newspapers. Targeted advertising works much better than more expensive mass marketing. Overnight radio shows and cable TV are cheaper than primetime ads.

6) Direct Mailing

Use direct mailing services to promote your law firm. Ensure that the letters are not too long, and carry testimonials of previous clients. Give special offers if you like.

7) Press Releases/Articles

Nothing works like press releases and articles related to law. Be a regular contributor of legal articles to ezines, websites, and newspapers. This will attract readership and ensure that some of the readers know that you are an expert in your field.

These are just some of the methods you can use to publicize yours. Use targeted advertising to reach them. If you need more help in promoting your law firm, you could approach a professional agency for help. Your law firm needs new clients in order to stay in business. Many law firms do not actively market their services and thus miss many potential clients. Since the demand and supply dynamics keep changing, it is crucial to keep ahead of competition and promote your services. Here are some methods of reaching out to potential clients.

Alexander Gordon is a writer for - The Small Business Consulting Community. Sign-up for the free success steps newsletter and get our booklet valued at $24.95 for free as a special bonus. The newsletter provides daily strategies on starting and significantly growing a business.

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