Poorvi Chothani knows what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s world — from watching plum assignments being handed out to male colleagues, to discontinuing her practice in order to take care of her children — she’s seen it all. And this, while her male classmates from the 1984 batch of Mumbai’s Government Law College quickly rose up the legal ladder, heading l00-employee-strong law firms.
Today, at 47, the founder of Lawquest, an all-women law firm, Chothani has not only managed to be successful both at home and at work, but is also helping other women do the same. “I understand my female employees’ needs better. If they need extended maternity leave, I let them work from home; if someone’s child is sick, I let them leave,” she says. From swapping notes on shopping to making it big in the tough field of litigation, her lawyers have it all.
“We work in unusual fields — immigration law, intellectual property rights and litigation. But our team doesn’t get intimidated by the heavyweights around,” says the mother-of-two. Having an all-female team, though, has been a matter of chance. “The three male employees that I hired didn’t last. Before I realised, we were a bunch of nine women working together. But I don’t plan on changing it now, the working atmosphere feels nice,” asserts Chothani.
That she’s picked strong, clear-headed women to back her up is obvious. “The gender of your team doesn’t affect the nature of your work,” they say when I quiz them about the all-women team. A while later, one of them admits: “It’s easy to open up to a woman, something I wouldn’t be able to with a male boss,” says Madhooja Mulay, 24.