Interview With Suraj A. Vyas
Suraj A. Vyas, Esq. represents clients in construction law and contract law matters. Born and raised in Howard County, Maryland, Vyas took an interest in construction work at a young age and pursued an undergraduate degree in Water Resources Management & Policy. From there, he attended the University of Baltimore School of Law.
During his time in law school, his proudest accomplishment was contributing to an index of criminal and civil law decisions that judges in the Maryland District Courts use daily. In addition to construction and contract law, Vyas also takes on cases in the following areas: family law, estate planning, international law, alternative dispute resolution, disability law, real estate law, criminal law, personal injury, corporate law, immigration law, tax law, and free speech law.
Lawyers Minds: How did you find out what kind of law you wanted to practice?
Suraj Vyas: Since I was born, I have spent just about every summer in India with my grandparents. My grandfather is a techno-legal consultant in India, meaning he handles arbitration cases for construction companies. Growing up, I would accompany him to various meetings and arbitrations. In between sessions, I would be putting together Lego pieces in order to build whatever structure my mind thought of at the time. As I matured, my love for engineering grew. I quickly realized the law is something considered at each and every meeting, whether it be between engineers, architects, owners, suppliers, builders, or any other team member. Equipped with a background in engineering, I knew going into law school that I would want to be part of the construction law world. While in law school, I realized that those who have a background in engineering have the ability to apply to be part of the patent bar. Knowing I had this extra feather in my cap, I decided to begin work in that sector.
Lawyers Minds: Are there any crimes or acts you would have trouble defending?
Suraj Vyas: When I first opened up my firm, I thought I would take any case that walked through the door. At the point, I was just starting out and had to hustle to get my name out there. That meant doing anything and everything that I felt I had the ability to properly handle for my client. However, one category of cases has always been a firm “no” for me. I would never and will never defend someone for hurting, injuring, torturing, or killing an animal. I am a huge animal lover, and I cannot in good conscience ever help someone skirt responsibility or get a lower sentence for acts involving animals.
Lawyers Minds: What type of timelines do you have (internal or written) in the month and weeks leading up to the trial?
Suraj Vyas: I keep my calendar and scheduling tools meticulously organized. Time management is key not only to law, but to living a more balanced life. It’s been hammered into me since law school that you must not miss a deadline, and you must properly allocate your time. As such, I make sure to track each and every pleading due date, discovery due date, interview due date, response due date, and anything else. Each and every small thing must be properly scheduled somewhere. This allows for a smooth experience for yourself as well as your client. For myself, it’s important for me to also categorize tasks based on priority. For example, I use software to color-code tasks to easily see what my high priority, medium priority, and low priority tasks are for any given day or week. There are case management tools (like Hubspot) and task management tools (like Trello), but sometimes all you might need is a Google calendar to keep track of things. It’s important not to overly complicate your task management and just do whichever method keeps you the most organized.
Lawyers Minds: What’s your philosophy on having the client in or out of the courtroom during the trial?
Suraj Vyas: In the construction world, it truly varies from case to case. It also varies from client to client. I look at each case individually and do not have a blanket rule. I have had clients who will want to be involved more than I feel they should. When that happens, I sit with the client and explain why, strategically, I need them to not be present. By explaining the tangible benefit this will provide, my clients tend to understand. Of course, this approach works differently for corporate clients versus individual clients. In something like a divorce case, I would want my client present when needed but not overly expose my client to relive anything traumatic unnecessarily.
Lawyers Minds: What methods do you have for establishing authority with the opposing party and counsel?
Suraj Vyas: Many times, a strong opening letter with “Esq.” signed at the bottom establishes authority for unrepresented opposing parties, and not much else needs to be done. For represented parties matters, it’s important to demonstrate you know the area of law and the matter well enough during your first connection. I make sure I understand the intricacies of exactly what is at the crux of an issue before making a call or sending an email to the opposing party of counsel. The first impression says everything and sets the tone for your case moving forward. Squandering that opportunity by having a weak backbone or wishy-washy language can come back to haunt you throughout the course of a case.
Lawyers Minds: Do you believe pessimism or optimism is more valuable as a lawyer?
Suraj Vyas: I believe pessimism is more valuable. My role as an advisor and advocate for my client is to make sure I am prepared for the worst-case scenario. “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is the key phrase that comes to mind. Personally, I am absolutely an optimist. However, it’s important I don’t bring a false sense of security to my client. Obviously, there is a balance there, but I strongly believe that expecting the worst from the opposing party and counsel will ultimately make me a better attorney for my client and for future clients.
Lawyers Minds: What opportunities should aspiring lawyers or lawyers first starting out look into?
Suraj Vyas: New attorneys should be making connections. Even if you are still in school, you should be making connections. I thought my moot court and journal experience would help me out in the real legal world, but I learned quickly that the legal world is all about networking. Networking is sometimes seen as a dirty word, but if you do it right, then it can lead to wonderful opportunities. A summer internship at a law firm could be networking. A conversation about the newest movie with a law school colleague could be networking.
My approach to networking is to develop real friendships with people who talk to me about topics I actually enjoy ranging from legal developments to video games. The approach of walking up to an attorney and making small talk at a bar event does not have to be the only way you network. Genuine connections have gotten me much further as an attorney.
Lawyers Minds: What’s one thing you want for the readers to know about you that we didn’t ask?
Suraj Vyas: I started my own firm because of a relatively large case that was brought to me by an old friend. I took some time to properly think about the positive and negative consequences of striking out on my own. However, I did fall prey to thinking I would be able to set my own hours. I do not recommend hanging your own shingle without properly thinking about it. Talk to other attorneys who have done it. Do not be fooled into the romance of owning your firm without also considering just how hard it is to make your firm succeed. I do not want to discourage attorneys from being their own boss, but I truly want them to think it all the way through before making the jump. I am happy to speak with anyone looking to start up their own firm or even those much younger who may not even be in law school yet. If you need someone to bounce ideas off of, then please feel free to contact me through my website https://www.savlawfirm.com or @savlawfirm on your preferred social media platform.
Thank you, Suraj, for taking the time to share your insight with the readers here at Lawyer Minds!
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