Passing his matriculation exams at the age of 22 in 1897, Patel desired to go to Bombay for further studies. However in order to shoulder his responsibilities toward his family, he decided to take up a job in a local lawyer's office where he had access to law books. Reading at home, he passed the District Pleader's Examination within a period of two years.
Moving to the town of Godhra in 1900, Patel set up his legal practice there. Just as he was beginning to settle down, the Plague swept over vast areas of Gujarat and Patel himself contracted the disease while nursing a friend. Overcoming these hurdles and moving out of Godhra, he set up his practice in the town of Borsad where his brother Vithalbhai resided. There, he quickly ascended the ladder of success and soon became one of the most sought after criminal lawyers.
Patel was known to be ruthless in his cross examination of witnesses. Once when he was in the midst of his cross examination in a case where his client was accused of a murder charge, Patel received a telegram informing him of his wife's death. Concealing his own anguish, Patel placed the telegram in his pocket and continued with the examination. He would not let his personal sorrow come in the way of his client's life.
In 1910, after having finally saved enough after years of hard work, Patel went to London to study for his Barristership at the age of 35 in fulfillment of a long cherished dream. There, he passed his final examination with a first class and an exemption of two terms thus completing within 30 months what should ordinarily have taken three years. He returned to India in 1913 and began to practice as a Barrister in Ahmedabad.
Within a short span, he became one of the busiest and most successful barristers in the city. He was known for his quick judgment of men and admired for his fearlessness in dealing with judges and court officials. Dressed in a suit and speaking mostly English, he spent his evenings at the Gujarat Club playing bridge.
His success at the Bar was remarkable. Within a period of six months, he became the leader of the Bar on the criminal side.
But an ordinary event and an encounter with an extraordinary person, that were to occur soon thereafter, were about to dramatically turn around the direction of his life.