LawQuest is a leading immigration law firm headquartered in Mumbai with offices in New York and Florida, LawQuest consists of multiple team members who are licensed to practice law in India, New York (including US Federal Law), England, and Wales. It is also one of the first woman-owned Indian law firms to have offices at two locations in the United States. LawQuest operates through The Law Office of Ms. Poorvi Chothani, PLLC for all US immigration matters. Poorvi is the sole owner of both entities.
The firm’s professionals, who are educated at top institutes including Ivy League Universities, have a cumulative experience of over 70 years with more than 30 years focussed on immigration law. LawQuest works with its international network to support global immigration needs in other jurisdictions.
In a conversation with Ms. Poorvi Chothani, she shared the story of her journey till now, and how LawQuest is transforming the immigration law sector.
Tell us about the firm
The firm believes in partnering with clients. in their global growth while placing a particular emphasis on delivering highly personalized service. The firm invests time and resources in building relationships to truly understand clients’ business objectives and model its services to meet their evolving needs.
LawQuest provides essential Indian employment law and global immigration services, both integral and crucial components of any global business. The firm’s domestic and international clients benefit from its full range of Indian employment law services – from recruitment to termination and all matters in between. It also assists companies in setting up operations in India, guiding them through Foreign Direct Investment and state regulations to ensure a high level of compliance before they recruit foreign nationals.
The firm’s practice areas, in addition to the US, global, and Indian immigration law, include Indian employment and labor law, alternate or permanent residence and citizenship planning as well as document and legalization services.
LawQuest is a regulated entity; answerable to the regulators in India, the USA, and England and Wales. This requires the firm to adhere to high standards of ethics and professional responsibility. Members of the firm hold senior leadership positions in international bodies including the International Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, and Indian Merchants Chamber. Aside from the jurisdictions the firm is licensed in, it also has a vetted network of partners in over 90 countries, many of whom have been met in person and/or the firm works with regularly.
The firm’s team prolifically publishes articles and blogs on immigration matters. Members of LawQuest are often quoted in and contribute to leading publications. Members frequently get a chance to put their views in front of the nation and concerned international audiences, through interviews from various media houses.
LawQuest’s members are very well connected with the consular communities at diplomatic posts of many countries. They are included in the list of attorneys/ solicitors published by the US and British Consulates. We frequently work with high-net-worth individuals on EB-5 green cards as well as other global residence and citizenship options.
Though LawQuest works for clients for a fee, at any given point of time the firm is involved in at least one pro bono legal project, generally in association with TrustLaw, a Thomson Reuters Foundation initiative, which provides a platform for law firms to assist NGOs and social enterprises which need legal assistance. LawQuest is the recipient of several awards for its pro bono work and continues to contribute to society with ongoing projects.
• What were the initial challenges you faced?
LawQuest has gained global recognition and it has been described as ‘the best of the best in India’, by leading global law firms, an accolade that it is proud of. When LawQuest was launched as an immigration law firm in 2003 it was a very rare practice in India and it took a lot of perseverance and tenacity to establish the firm.
• Which was that point that triggered the growth of the firm?
It was a sudden shift in awareness about the firm in international markets. We began getting work from large organizations and law firms in Europe, the UK, the USA, and Canada. This was a result of attending 2 to 4 international legal conferences each year in locales reaching from Australia to the Americas and many nations in between. Our contributions to the international legal communities at the American Bar Association, the International Bar Association, the Inter-Pacific Bar Association, iTech-Law, and many others also resulted in brand recognition of LawQuest and acclaim for the founder, Poorvi Chothani.
• How have the firm graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?
The firm almost doubled its income each year from 2012 to 2018. Since then it has continued to grow and had only a slight dip in 2020 during the COVID pandemic.
• What is the reason behind your firm’s long-standing success?
The myriad opportunities the firm receives keeps the team at LawQuest motivated, ensuring productivity because we usually do not track “billable hours,” and maintaining client relationships. Managing the firm’s growth without losing out on quality and prompt services requires ongoing efforts. Also, as we go along we strive to gain peace and work with equanimity.
• What are the services the firm focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
For a long time, the firm was an ‘all women’ law firm and this was not by design but by pure chance. A large part of this was because the firm offers its staff flexibility and it provides a work environment that allows parent-teacher meetings to trump client meetings. This ethos resulted in the Vahura Award for ‘Best Law Firm in Work-Life Balance’.
The firm has worked with multiple A-list, Bollywood celebrities to help them traverse the uncertain Indian immigration procedures and systems, resolving complex issues so that they can achieve their career and travel goals. Acquisition of clients like global leaders in the aerospace and defence sectors, both large American conglomerates, were the key milestones in the firm’s growth.
• How do you decide to take the firm a step further in terms of your services?
We continue to extend our global reach and will be networked in over 100 countries within the next two years.
• How have you seen diversity change over the years in the legal sector?
The legal field has seen a great shift in gender diversity. The majority of students enrolled in law colleges are women by some estimates. This was not the case in the 1980s. Women are joining the legal workforce also in droves. However, they continue to grapple with age-old family issues and need to take sabbaticals or choose different career paths. But there are more women lawyers as partners and in leadership roles at 100s of law firms. Women are also taking an active part in the operations of the various Bar Associations. For example, in this year’s election at the Bombay Bar Association, there were more women candidates than ever before. One of the candidates for the post of secretary was a woman.
Many law firms are led by their women founders.
Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?
Whitney Wolfe Herd, an American entrepreneur’s story is most inspiring at present. She is the founder and CEO of Bumble, a social and dating app, launched in 2014. She was also an early executive at Tinder. In 2021, Herd became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire after taking Bumble public.
• It’s a rat-race out there. How do you cope with that?
You don’t join the race. You find a path that no one or only a few people are pursuing and walk that path.
“A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with – a man is what he makes of himself.”– Alexander Graham