Silpa Maruri on Creativity, Self-Advocacy and Launching a Law Firm

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Khurram Naik of Freshwater Counsel interviewed our partner, Silpa Maruri last week on creativity in the legal profession, self-advocacy, and launching Elsberg Baker & Maruri in his podcast, Khurram’s Quorum.

In this wide-ranging discussion, Silpa spoke passionately about the impact of advocating for her immigrant parents early in life, and its lasting impact on her as a lawyer. She also spoke at length about the benefit of hearing fresh perspectives on complex legal problems.

“We're very interested in developing our young lawyers and not just treating them as functionaries or cogs. We always try to get input from the younger members of our team on even minor aspects of strategy and that's really two-fold. Young fresh thinking is never a bad thing, particularly when you're dealing with, for example, financial products that change all the time, but it also develops the lawyer. The more they're being asked to flex their legal reasoning muscles and to think hard about big important legal problems, the better they're going to be at it when they are in a leadership role,” Silpa explained. “That's something we really try to foster here, and part of the reason is because each of us, even though we're coming from different places, did have people in our in our spheres who did that for us and it yielded dividends for us and it also yielded dividends frankly for them, because oftentimes we would come up with a case-breaking theory. It's something that's very important to us culturally.”

Khurram asked Silpa to share about when she recognized her ability to be a creative thinker in cases. “I like legal reasoning and I like complex problems so I would frequently look at something and see an angle that somebody didn't see,” she explained. “I was on this case where there was a contract dispute and our client had one interpretation of the agreement and the adversary had another. A lot of the adversary’s documents about what they really thought the contract meant were behind the veil of privilege and meanwhile, we knew that they didn't actually believe in their interpretation. So we had to find a way to get at these other documents that they were hiding under the cloak of privilege. I looked at the communications that had gone back-and-forth, and I realized that they had not drawn a real line about privilege. They had woven in and out of privilege in away that suggested that they had treated us as if we were within the privilege, and/or waived the privilege. So I came up with a very complex argument about why the privilege actually didn’t apply, and the court found that they had waived privilege. They had to produce all of their privileged communications, so much so that at the end of the litigation, they didn't even have a privilege log because they had literally produced every single document. The end result was that we were right, they didn't have the interpretation of the agreement that they said they had, and it was something that they came up with for litigation. It was devastating to their case. If I hadn't been asked as an associate what I thought the strategy should be, that never would've happened, so that's why we value it so much here.”

To listen to the complete podcast, please click > Khurram’s Quorum.