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  • Writer's pictureSangitha Namasoo

From Solicitor General to Queen’s Counsel

Harish Salve QC began his career as an accountant at his father’s accounting and tax practice in India. It was here that he discovered that his true calling lay in the law when he was one day tasked with writing an opinion for a client on a tax law matter. Salve’s opinion was met with approval by a senior counsel in India who upon reading his opinion asked him when he would be joining the Bar. In Salve’s own words, ‘the die was cast’ and the rest as they say, is history.

Source: Blackstone Chambers

In 1999, Salve was appointed as the Solicitor General of India by the first BJP government. As he came from a family with strong ties to the Congress party, Salve felt that this was testament to the fact that his appointment was based on merit and not dynasty politics. In terms of the work itself, Salve says he was in court five days a week and having to handle a variety of work, including areas which were not his forte, such as criminal law.

After serving as Solicitor General for three years, Salve went back to private practice. Soon after 2005, he began to do a lot of international arbitrations and eventually found himself spending almost half the year in England. Having worked with Queen’s Counsels from Blackstone Chambers on an arbitration matter, Salve was invited to join the chambers. In 2013, he was admitted to the English Bar and has since then been appointed a Queen’s Counsel. One of the things Salve enjoys about practice in England is the way in which barristers are able to immerse themselves in one big case at a time as opposed to in India where senior counsels are constantly juggling cases.

In addition to the above, Salve has also represented India at the International Court of Justice on two occasions. Salve explains that in these hearings one reads out a pre-prepared written speech which is simultaneously translated to the judges. Although Salve describes these experiences as educative and fascinating, he finds that the best advocacy is the one done ex tempore as it comes from the heart.

Harish Salve QC has enjoyed a legal career spanning decades and continents. From starting out as an accountant to qualifying as an advocate and eventually becoming Solicitor General of India to then moving to England where he has now been appointed a Queen’s Counsel, Salve is living proof that it is never too late to keep reinventing oneself.

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