Review | NSW Young Lawyers Golden Gavel

Ravi Nayyar, member of TLF NSW, recently attended the New South Wales Young Lawyers Golden Gavel.  He has written this fantastic review!

18 May 2018 was what the emcee, and our learned friend, Emily ‘Victoria’ Aitken, described as ‘the legal profession’s morning of mornings’. The NSW Young Lawyers Golden Gavel, a sort of pilgrimage for lawyers who enjoy ten brave souls criticising our ‘beloved’ profession. All in the name of good fun. An institution likely as important as the law itself, and proudly running since 1993. The event comprised a terrific mixture of public speaking, stand-up comedy, and cold, hard, facts about the practice of law (well, sort of). It even closed with some wit from The Honourable Justice Fabian Gleeson of the NSW Court of Appeal, patron of NSW Young Lawyers, and a member of the judging panel.

I had the privilege of attending this event, which The Honourable Justice Margaret Beazley once described as ‘the Eurovision of the legal profession’, as a guest of The Legal Forecast. As a lover of stand-up comedy, particularly the self-deprecating kind, I had an awesome time. I loved the calm musing of the winner, Tom Sorrenson, about the multitasking mindfulness of the modern lawyer, and we in the audience were somehow horrified, and amused, during his story about using a phone headset while typing, and somehow operating a sandwich press (burning a limb in the process). Another highlight was the Runner-Up, and People’s Choice Award-winner, Joshua Clarke, who pulled at heartstrings when stressing his love of practising in the Sydney CBD.

The speech that struck me the most, however, was Mama Puna Monica Florence Miranda’s. She cheekily, but incisively, criticised the predicament of lawyers faced with unnecessary, poorly executed, innovation in our beloved profession. Her concluding line captured this quite well:

‘Innovation, we’re absolutely obsessed with it. Don’t ask how we can fix it, though. We’re too busy trying to figure out how we can stuff it up the next time’.

Indeed, this reflects the issue with the very concept of innovation in the legal profession being over-hyped. And polluted by this very hype. At times, it is not even properly evaluated but simply slapped on members of the profession. Such innovation can be criticised as a problem in search of a solution; serving little purpose. Indeed, the argument could be made that this parallels the issue of innovation being properly designed, but poorly implemented, given similar negative results. Proponents of such problematic innovation may label their critics as Luddites, yet refuse to acknowledge that they are arguably a good deal of the source of the problem.

Miranda’s speech gives great examples of such problematic innovation (let’s unimaginatively use this phrase). Firstly, it discusses the role of informal methods of communication among a lawyer, and their secretary, in helping, allegedly, raise the productivity of both parties. But it pointedly questions the value of using memes in actually creating value for clients when it does not really hold either party accountable for their work (or lack thereof) in a reasonable fashion. It probably only provides momentary comic relief from a mountain of work. Secondly, Miranda chides her firm’s rolling out an open-plan office design as another artifice to fool clients who crave their legal eagles to innovate. Indeed, that firm failed to consider the possibility of some employees failing to respect necessary etiquette, which can thus hurt employees’ productivity, as Miranda argued, if they are distracted by the raucous conversations of colleagues about their latest Tinder escapade. Thirdly, and by far the most striking example of problematic innovation, was the PEXA e-conveyancing system, which, according to its website, is ‘digitally transforming the property exchange experience’. Miranda cleverly paints a portrait of a regtech solution, which, though well-intentioned, can have unbelievably expensive consequences in its implementation, even if by a top-tier firm, which presumably would have some of the best IT infrastructure in the CBD. Her use of statistics especially drives the point home: ‘4 lawyers, 103 billable hours, 87 email exchanges, and $6, 500 worth of write-off, [and] we had completed our first PEXA settlement’.

But even then, dear reader, you would be asking me: ‘Why the polemic when reviewing a stand-up gig?’

Well, I say this, as a friend of The Legal Forecast: I champion innovation, not problematic innovation. I consider the latter to be oxymoronic, which is why it utterly riles me. Why should problematic innovation even be ‘innovation’? If we make the mistake of considering it so, then our efforts to (as TLF’s mission states) ‘advance legal practice through technology and innovation’ are at nought. If we fail to call out examples of problematic innovation of the nature as Miranda highlights, then we must ask ourselves whether we truly are ‘passionate about disruptive thinking and access to justice’; whether we truly are committed to driving substantive, valuable, change to this beloved profession of ours; to helping the legal fraternity deliver greater value to even more individuals through greater access to justice, and more efficient legal practice. Change that we can believe in (to paraphrase a certain Presidential candidate’s slogan).

Indeed, I feel it not a matter of ‘if’, or ‘when’, the phenomenon of innovation in our beloved profession comes up. After all, we have seen quite a few names – big, and small, domestic, and global – in the law adopt innovations like artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and smart contracts, to drive the aforementioned change. We are also seeing the members of our profession investigate even more exciting innovation. These are delivering results, especially in effectively automating routine tasks, thus freeing up lawyers to apply their faculties to more complex work, which delivers greater value to clients, and the broader community. Dear reader, the practice of law is becoming more nimble, more tailored for the client, and more efficient. We have even heard about how key innovations, like artificial neural networks, will enhance the capability of human lawyers by helping them make decisions that are more data-driven, and thus contextually-appropriate. Hence, dear reader, I feel it not a matter of ‘if’, or ‘when’. But ‘how’.

In answering this question, we as a profession must carefully watch out for problematic innovations like those criticised by Miranda, and nip this toxic species in the bud. Otherwise, we jeopardise the integrity of our #legaltech, and #newlaw, movement, which, I stress, is delivering tremendous value. Our wonderful movement must not be dismissed as a gimmick whose work is apparently not worth the paper it tends not to be printed on. We must be vigilant about the risk of problematic innovations corrupting our message. When we stand in our teams to discuss the next big thing, freshly sketched out on the whiteboard in front of us, we must (to borrow one of Sorrenson’s ideas) take a deep breath, reflect, and then ask ourselves the following:

How does this help make the practice of law more efficient, and/or drive access to justice?

Is this even necessary?

If we ask ourselves these questions while standing at that whiteboard, we would be sure to champion true innovation. We would be sure to avoid, as Miranda argues, ’trying to figure out how we can stuff it up the next time’.

Hence, we would truly, as The Legal Forecast seeks to do, leverage our creativity,  our entrepreneurialism, to effect change for the better in the practice of law.

To translate our correctly-held belief – that ‘technology has an important role to play in legal practice, and access to justice’ – into concrete action.


If you would like to be interviewed or offer your thoughts on a recent event, book or article, please contact our Editor In Chief, Michael Bidwell, at

Interview | Bhaven Shah (Presolv360)

Bhaven Shah is the Co-Founder of Presolv360, which is India’s first homegrown cloud-based dispute management platform capable of preventing needless litigation, protecting people and businesses from adversities of disputes and resolving them through time-tested collaborative dispute resolution mechanisms. A Chartered Accountant and an alumnus of the prestigious Government Law College in Mumbai, India, Bhaven has had varied experience before judicial and quasi-judicial authorities including the Supreme Court of India, High Courts of Rajasthan and Bombay, and the erstwhile insolvency boards. He previously worked with KPMG in their M&A and tax litigation practice, R. K. Bothra & Co. and Ernst & Young in their tax and assurance practices, respectively.  We are very grateful that Michael Bidwell (TLF) had the opportunity to receive detailed answers to our pressing questions!

As India’s first dispute management platform, where did you get the inspiration to create Presolv360?

Thank you for this question because I love talking about it. In fact, I believe every entrepreneur has a reason, a story about where it all began. This is mine… Law came to me by legacy. In India, the mid-80s and 90s witnessed unprecedented changes – businesses expanded but so did complexities, opportunities increased but so did opportunistic individuals. The economy was growing but values were rapidly eroding. From property-grabbing to non-payment of dues, from trespassing to cheques bouncing, it became a usual occurrence for many of us. Practices and professions became sophisticated, but law and procedures remained unchanged.

In a heavily-litigated personal matter, a Supreme Court Judge (now retired) said to me in open court “Son, your father started this case and your child will have to conclude it.” And these wise words came after 29 years (read 45% of the lifespan of an average Indian) of fighting tooth and nail in Indian courts. The harsh reality is that legal cases in India last a life-time and have a propensity to wipe out all your resources, and I faced this first hand. I didn’t want to suffer in the future, I didn’t want others to suffer, ever, and so, it was time that India and her citizens were offered a solution that changed the way they insulated themselves from disputes and litigation. Something that was quick, economical, convenient and effective. With this in mind, Presolv360 was born.

On your website, you note a few mentors and advisors in addition to your founding team. What role do these mentors and advisors play in developing Presolv360?

Just as children are nurtured and guided by their parents, when it comes to a business, our mentors and advisors are the cornerstone of many important decisions. They are our anchors and often lead us back on track when we go astray. Mr. Ashok Barat is the former Managing Director and CEO, Forbes and Company Ltd, a publicly listed entity in India. He is currently on the Board of several listed companies and is passionate about making mediation the primary form of dispute resolution. Ms. Tanu Mehta is a practicing counsel, mediator and conciliator recognized by the Bombay High Court and is an MA in Conflict Resolution & Mediation from Tel Aviv University, Israel. Ms. Rajani Iyer has been designated a senior counsel by the Bombay High Court and is a mediator with over 4 decades of experience in dispute resolution.

While we are armed with the force of youth, enthusiasm and ideas, our mentors bring unparalleled experience, a balanced approach and advise that covers strategic, business and operational aspects. Basically, they justify the 360 in Presolv360.

You include several sample agreements on your website including employment, joint ventures, non-disclosure, website development, loan and will just to name a few! What made you decide to allow users to download and use them for free?  How do you protect your intellectual property by allowing free access to these documents?

Personal, and even professional and business relationships in India are primarily trust-based. It is obvious that it’s only those you trust that have the power to breach it. That’s why we encourage the ‘habit of codifying’ i.e. putting on paper what has been agreed upon. This is the foremost exercise that’ll help prevent needless litigation. We understand that majority people have accessibility and affordability issues when it comes to sound and proficient advice, and it is in order to circumvent this problem that we provide professionally drafted agreements free of cost. While we intend to increase the database to include more agreements, we have identified these as key areas vulnerable to disputes.

That being said, trust is yet the most important factor of any relationship. We have come to realise that India’s internet citizens are maturing and honing responsibility like never before. While providing leeway to our mature and responsible users, we mandate, log and document acceptance of our terms of use for the morally and ethically challenged ones. Any unauthorized use or distribution of the documents and materials available on the website would result into a breach of contract and would consequently be liable to action under Indian laws.

What were the initial challenges and rewards for you, Namita and Aman leaving your traditional corporate jobs to create Presolv360? Would you change anything if you could go back and do it again?

A corporate job is like sitting in an airplane with the seatbelt buckled, whereas the entrepreneurial path is like jumping from that airplane and learning how to build a parachute along the way!

Namita, Aman and I knew what was at stake, but what made us jump anyway was the desire of finding a solution apt for a country like India, with its myriad of cultures, traditions, beliefs and functioning mechanisms. While treading on an unknown path, it was challenging to up the awareness of people in the dispute management space. In fact, it is these very challenges that contributed towards shaping the entire structure of Presolv360, as much as it has contributed towards shaping us as individuals. It is rewarding going to bed each night, that we’ve utilized the day in starting a revolution, however small, and are progressing towards our vision of a dispute-free future.

We believe that we are at the right place – ‘India’, at the right time – ‘now’, and doing the right thing – ‘Presolv360’. Even if we could go back, we’d do the exact same thing all over again, because that is exactly what has got us thus far and is what will continue to take us further.

In the making of Presolv360, give us some ‘behind the scenes’ insights. What is your value proposition?

Disputes are inevitable and are inherent to the nature of humans. So, we re-imagined, re-engineered and radically improved the ‘approach’ to dispute management. After an extensive research and study, ranging from India’s village system to international diplomacy, from traditional dispute redressal machineries to sophisticated global practices, it was time to understand contemporary challenges. We undertook an ‘Appeal for Change’ survey where we interviewed over a thousand people from different walks of life to understand all the facets of disputes. It is on this robust foundation that we built and designed the Presolv360 platform.

Presolv360 is a unique dispute management platform that blends technology, human expertise and innovation to provide effective dispute prevention solutions, collaborative dispute resolution mechanisms, fast-track and cost-effective alternatives to courts and protection from uncertain outcomes and adversities. This makes Presolv360 the first of its kind across the globe!

I always ask people to ponder over three simple questions and they understand the problems we address:

  1. Would you like to enjoy a life free from disputes, litigation and courts?
  2. Do you want to secure yourself to ensure nobody drags you to court?
  3. If you have a dispute, would you not like to resolve it quickly, reasonably and efficiently?

I greatly appreciate your ‘Presolv for All’ Project where you charge a very nominal fee to those who are financially disadvantaged. It is remarkable to see start-ups working with and for the community.  What pushed you to start up this Project and are there any success stories you would like to share?

In reality, it was a success story that led us to undertake the ‘Presolv for All’ Project. A success for me, a success for Presolv360, a success for every stakeholder and a success for humanity. A poor lady had lost her husband in a tragic motor accident but unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of her tragedy. What followed were years of torturous litigation where she had to re-live the death of the bread-winner on one hand, and, on the other, raise three young children, repay debts and work to keep her family fed.

There was negligible progress for several years and going by precedents, it would be at least another decade before she would receive any relief from the courts. After our involvement, an amicable settlement was arrived at. Within 30 days, she received the compensation. With tears in her eyes, she said “You saved me. Thank you!”. The feeling of contentment engulfed us and at that moment, we decided to undertake this initiative, so we, as a community, can enjoy a litigation-free future.

I see you are currently located in Mumbai. Where would you love to expand to if the opportunity arises?

India is going through a crisis. Everyday 40,000+ cases are filed in India courts and approximately 67% disputants do not even attempt an alternative before litigating. India expends US$ 12 billion every year on court hearings and loss of business. This translates to 0.77% of India’s GDP and shockingly, this figure is without accounting for professional fees. While it takes an average of 13 years for the final disposal of a civil case, it is estimated that by the year 2025, there will be 61.9 million pending cases and at the current rate of filing of new cases against the rate of disposal, it will take 587 years to clear this backlog. The opportunity in India itself is magnanimous.

While we are based in Mumbai, our operations extend to the whole of India and this is possible because of our integrated tech platform that is accessible from desktops, laptops or mobile devices to ensures affordability, convenience, efficiency and effectiveness. The beneficiaries of this platform are unrestricted, be it individuals, businesses, institutions or even governments. Going forward, we aim to make Presolv360 not just an alternative mechanism to resolve disputes, but the most appropriate mechanism to manage disputes across the globe.

Does the government have any role to play? Do they support such innovative initiatives?

The Indian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has undertaken path-breaking initiatives such as ‘Aadhaar’ (providing unique identification to 1.3 billion Indians), improving the ‘Ease of Doing Business’, ‘Digital India’, tackling logjam in courts and bettering the business and investment climate of the country. While, I believe that India is in extremely capable hands, it is also important to understand that, for India to tackle this grave problem, a concerted partnership is required between all stakeholders – potential and existing disputants, governments, judiciary, professionals and facilitators like us. This will ensure that only those matters worthy of the courts attention and judicial resources will find a place on the docket, while the remaining are dealt with in a systematic, civilized and optimal manner. This way, courts can dispense justice, governments can govern, businesses can flourish, and the citizens can enjoy a stress-free life.

This government has been an enabler and a key contributor to the budding entrepreneurial spirit in India. In fact, Presolv360 is privileged to be recognised by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, and listed on the website of the Department of Justice. Besides, Presolv360 has also been recognised under the Start Up scheme of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

We have seen a lot of discussion in Australia this year regarding artificial intelligence. What have been some of the ‘hot topics’ in India?

Artificial intelligence has become a worldwide phenomenon. ‘Virtual legal assistants’, or legal research tools, a derivative of artificial intelligence, has gained tremendous prominence and is expected to replace some of the legal population. ‘Smart contracts’ is another area garnering attention, while ‘blockchain in contract management’ is picking up momentum too.

What is your ‘legal forecast’ for the next few years?

A shift is imminent, a shift from a curative mindset to a preventive one. This means you will be able to pre-empt problematic relationships, manipulate data to predict toxicity levels and determine a reliable outcome in case a dispute arises. All this at a click of a button. The world will be a fertile ground for pragmatism and a battle ground for opportunism.

If you could give one piece of advice to a law student or early career professional, what would it be?

Unbuckle the seatbelt, step out of your comfort zone, and jump from the airplane – there’ll be troubled weather along the way, but the view and the experience will make it worthwhile!


If you would like to be interviewed or offer your thoughts on a recent event, book or article, please contact our Editor In Chief, Michael Bidwell, at