THE BUSINESS OF LAW & the SEASONED PLAYER

“Without good legal practices, we cannot expect foreign investment, and without good foreign investment, we can’t expect economic development of the country,” says Gandhi Pandit, Corporate Lawyer and Founding Partner of Gandhi and Associates. “Nepalis are accustomed to doing business in a rather unprofessional manner, by overlooking existing laws and legalities. They prefer to fight a case later than fulfil the legalities beforehand, so they usually get into trouble. On the contrary, when foreigners do business, they scrupulously follow all legal procedures so that there is no complication later on,” explains Gandhi. According to him, this is the good practice that most Nepali businessmen lack, telling us them that this is where they step in, “We help our clients in this regard; we fulfil all the legalities required for businesses so that there are no problems later”.

“We also help the government expand its legal areas, to improve existing laws to attract more foreign investment that in turn generates more employment, more income and ultimately a better economy,” he says. Pandit says that existing laws are good in Nepal, but implementation is very weak, and the worst is the inconsistency in law and policies. “There should be a robust implementation mechanism and timely amendments of laws. A lot of obsolete laws and policies are not scrapped; the government should form a committee to look into it. Moreover, there is no clarity in laws and policies and a lot of dualities exist, making Nepal a risky area for investment,” says Pandit, who is also Associate Professor of Law at Nepal Law Campus.

We also help the government expand its legal areas, to improve existing laws to attract more foreign investment that in turn generates more employment, more income and ultimately a better economy

Childhood and Education

Pandit was born in Tanahun in 1958 to Late Bam Dev Pandit and Dev Kumari Pandit. His father was a poet, an active politician and a Bichari, a judge during the Rana regime. His father named him Gandhi as he was deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. “This name has helped me a lot throughout my life. Everyone I meet always remembers me as it is a very distinct name,” says Pandit. He grew up in Chitwan in a remote village. His father was particular about his children getting a good education. So he went to Chitwan High School as a child. “I was very influenced by my father’s job as a judge, and I wanted to be a lawyer although I didn’t know at that time what this profession entailed. I also used to argue a lot, so people used to tell me that I should become a lawyer,” recalls Pandit.

Pandit came to Kathmandu in 1975 after he completed his SLC. He had no other aim than becoming a lawyer. Here he found his peers opting for studies in Medicine and Engineering and he too decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately he failed the entrance exams, and thus returned to his original dream. He then tried joining a five year diploma in law at the Nepal Law Campus. Ironically he failed the entrance for this too.
“I was in the first batch when the new education system was implemented and the course of study was changed. In the entrance, they had asked questions from the old course, so I decided to go and talk to campus chief about it,” he recalls. He presented his case so well to the campus chief that he earned himself a place in the college. There were 150 students in his class and he was always among the top five.

After completing the course, he wanted to study further rather than start practice. In those days, only a handful of people were doing LLM, the Master’s degree in Law. He went with four other friends to India to pursue the degree from Delhi University but they found it tough with language becoming a barrier. “I had to work very hard to get through the course. I used to study for 16 hours a day. And I read everything I could find on law. It was a two years course and it took me two and half years to complete it. Only two of us made it through,” says Pandit. In college, he was interested in jurisprudence, commercial and company law, and constitutional law, and also became politically active. After completing his LLM in India, Pandit returned to Nepal and worked as an intern with a law firm for a year. He also started teaching at the Nepal Law Campus.

Early Years

When he decided to open his own office, he didn’t have the funding for it. “I needed Rs 4,000 to buy furniture but I couldn’t manage the amount. I was married by that time, so my wife gave me some of her gold ornaments to get a loan from the bank. With that loan, I opened my first office,” recalls Pandit on an emotional note. Pandit was new in the market and didn’t get any a single case for three months. But with time, he gained trust and popularity owing to his skills and good practices. “Within three years of establishing my firm, I was a popular name. I started getting a lot of cases, most of which I always won,” he says.

In 1989, Pandit was in the University of Wisconsin, Madison to attend an annual summer program to introduce the American legal system to foreign lawyers. He also had a few friends in USA who were studying and practicing law in New York, so he went there to meet them. “A friend of mine took me to visit Columbia University. I was very excited. There I was introduced to a professor who also happened to be the Chairman of the LLM Admission Committee. He asked me a few questions, and I told him about my achievements,” he recalls. Pandit was only around 30 years old at that time, and the professor was deeply impressed by him. To his surprise, the professor offered him admission to study law at Columbia University with 60 percent scholarship and without applying or any formalities.

Leave a Reply