- Hello! Let our readers know about you.
Whenever asked to introduce myself, I say, “I am a law student”. A student with experience, may I say. My major practice areas have been international and domestic corporate / commercial transactions and advisory.
- What made you chose law as a career?
I had a commercial bent of mind from the beginning. Therefore, I pursued graduation in commerce. Study of laws of contract, partnership, negotiable instruments, company law, taxation, etc. during my graduation ignited the desire to learn more on these and related subjects. I guess my inquisitiveness and analytical ability to read between the lines inspired me to pursue law. I was always interested more in commercial laws(company law, taxation, labour laws used to be my optional preferences always) – however, my best scoring paper was Constitutional Law!
- I’m sure your journey in industry must have been very interesting, share some funny moments from it.
Life has been very kind to me and has given me immense to feel good and happy about. I have had the privilege of working with some of the best professionals in India and abroad – on same side of the transaction or even the opposite side.
During a flight, a client unknowingly told the sister of Managing Partner of my (then) firm that they found Bhumesh to be very responsive and up to date. That was the best compliment for me behind my back.
Sometimes, I get assignments from people who actually do not know the exact person who has recommended me to them. They may be 4th, 5th or 6th degree contacts. My friends worldwide generate such leads for me due to the goodwill that comes with experience, sincere execution and good interaction skills.
Off the track, another compliment came from very senior lawyers in Italy while having dinner a couple of years back. I told these gentlemen that I had 2 decades of experience, they sounded surprised, telling me – you are so young, you must have been a kid when you started practicing!
- What was your motivation throughout the journey?
The quest to better myself at every stage of my life has been the motivation for me. Hit by the entrepreneurial bug time and again, I have done what I have wanted to do – leaving well settled positions, hefty packages and so on to pursue my passion and look for a bigger canvas, to do more and to do different. It pays you sometimes and it doesn’t pay you sometimes. However, you’ve got only one life and you should try to do something which you enjoy doing.
- If you look back to your Law School days, how do you look at “Academics vs. Extra- Curricular”?
Extra-curricular activities formed a very miniscule and negligible part of our education system when I was a student. Now, there is a good mix, I would say. I am a guest faculty with some good institutes and it is heartening to note that the institutions now take pains to impart practical skills to their students in addition to theoretical knowledge. Besides, there is huge pressure on institutions to make their students employable so that there can be campus placements.
- We always have pressure in law schools to build CV with Moots, and research papers, so.Does it really matter if you see these activities in a resume to recruit someone?
These activities do help, no doubt. They boost your confidence, bring you face to face with practical issues and problems, equip you to handle them. Research helps in enhancing your analytical skills and solution seeking abilities.
Some part of it may be useful in recruitment process as well depending on the professional / organisation. Different firms have different criteria for assessing these skillsets. However, the criteria for participation in such events should be honing your skills and enhancing your knowledge. Knowledge is power, whether or not it helps in recruitment process.
- Advice to students as how can they excel their speaking and writing skills.
Well, words are the only tools that a lawyers has. His skills are demonstrated by written and spoken words. Therefore, it is very important to be good with your words.
First things first, students should read a lot. Reading not only legal material, but everything that you may like. It will improve their knowledge over information and command over language.
Secondly, never let go a chance to speak or write – be it in classroom, moot court, in-house journal, and so on.
Try to have mock sessions with people you are comfortable with. This will gradually take away the fear of public speaking. Then, take it to the next level and come in front of a larger audience at whichever forum you get an opportunity with.
- Advice to the law students regarding internships?
Internships are good learning experience, if done with seriousness. Try interning with different firms with different practice areas, even different cities if possible. This gives you varied insights and may help you choosing your preferred practice area.
Further, if you are serious and efficient, the firm you intern with may also absorb you on graduating. Take your internship seriously, not for the sake of a certificate.
Do not send add requests to senior lawyers or law firm partners on Facebook or LinkedIn merely for seeking internships or placements. They already have a bunchful of applications at all times on these aspects. It is very unlikely that you will get an internship this way. You may, however, manage to irritate them by sending repeating messages on these platforms, emails on their official ids or even calling them. It is better to take an institutional approach either through your college or approaching the internship in-charge at firms. Many of my friends and colleagues do not entertain such requests from students completely for this reason.
- How according to you should a law student’s CV look like?
Besides academic qualifications and significant achievements in academics or elsewhere, an applicant should indicate his preferred line of practice and not be rigid with it. The language should be very simple – not very heavy borrowed lines.
Nowadays, I see internships under Work Experience column in job applications and LinkedIn profiles. Please mention internships as what they actually are.
- What is your opinion on present education system? Any change you would like to bring in?
Education system is certainly much advanced and better today than what it was. The emphasis towards developing professional skills besides limited theoretical knowledge is very good. Now, more colleges are receptive towards engaging professionals in disseminating practical knowledge.
I feel the colleges should engage more with industry experts. This can be by way of focussed sessions, workshops, seminars and so on depending on the subject and timings.
The management and faculty make a lot of efforts in engaging faculty from other institutions or professionals for such sessions. The students, therefore, must attend and benefit from these programs.
- What is your view on online legal education?
Online education can be an excellent supplement to traditional classroom coaching. Every college has limitation in terms of prescribed subjects, limited time, number of classes, availability of faculty.
After the college timings, a student is invariably directionless as to what more she should do to study. Online portals come handy in the sense that a student can benefit from small courses from online education portals in her particular areas of interest, at her own time, with the faculty of even other national or international institutions.
This system is prevalent and very successful abroad and is picking up fast in India.
- Do you feel work / life balance is important? How does one manage that?
For most professionals and firms in India, work life balance is a slogan only. The reason for this is unreasonable clients and professionals’ quest to keep the clients happy. Clients do not respect professionals’ timings or personal lives and feel entitled to call any time.
Besides, most Indians get sadistic pleasure in working overtime and 24X7 throughout their lives. In fact, this become one’s USP in the organisation and earns brownie points. Someone who wants to leave office if she has no work or deadline left for the day is an outcaste. How do you justify such behaviour if for each such person, there are 20 others who are willing to spend 24X7 in office (with no family or no care for family) and literally die for the organisation?
We ignore health, family and enjoyment for material and notional comfort. I have seen lawyers in mid-20s taking long breaks to heal burnouts – half of Indian professionals go through serious health problems or depression by the time they reach 40.
It is very different in foreign firms – people take their timings and holidays very seriously. Clients also respect their boundaries. There could be exceptions when there is a deadline
Net net, it is very important but difficult to find work life balance. No harm in trying though.
- Vital lesson taught by the professional world which law school didn’t teach?
Life is a great teacher, you keep learning something new every now and then. Professional life is very different from what is taught in books.
One, to protect our client’s interests, we lawyers keep insisting on written agreements for every arrangement. However, the good people in the world honour their word even without writing. If everyone was to honour their written word, lawyers would be out of business.
Two, you should work with the people you feel good working with and do what you feel good about. Big brand names or packages do not last forever. Students who get best packages with top law firms in their campus placements often leave within a year or two.
- Advice for students pursuing law?
Do not pursue law just because you feel it is a well paying and glamourous occupation. It is a very difficult profession as well. One tends to ignore the hard work put up by the legends for decades to reach where they are.
Secondly, pursue law only if you think that one day you will manage to carry your practice on your own. The cushy job you aspire or the prestigious law firm partnership or your friends as trusted partners in your business may not last forever. One day, you may have to do it all and fend for yourself.
This profession requires entrepreneurship in all capacities and roles. Your execution skills will take you only up to a level and there will be a saturation thereafter.
- What lies ahead?
Besides my corporate – commercial practice, I shall be devoting some time to education. I have been passionate about sharing with students the knowledge I have gained in my practice areas in last 2 decades. I keep getting invites for conducting workshops and classroom coaching.
Therefore, I have engaged with few good online education companies as well as law colleges.
My first book on Drafting Commercial Agreements is near completion. Some other titles are in the pipeline – on FDI, Joint Ventures and so on. I will try to complete a book every year.
- Tell us something about your first book then.
My first book is about Drafting Commercial Agreements. The students community amd my friends in academic arena complained that the existing books in the market are too heavy to understand and have a lot of legalese. I was requested to bring about a simple, no-jargon book on the subject of drafting skills and not on law. This book would be different in the sense that it would explain the need for good drafting, do’s and don’ts about drafting, the reasons for these do’s and don’ts and some sample clauses and agreements. Students and professionals from legal as well as other fields will find it immensely handy and useful.
Learning drafting skills is a lifetime investment for professionals. This book could be a lifetime companion for professionals engaged with drafting and / or reviewing commercial agreement.