Abhilasha Nautiyal graduated from Army Institute of Law, Mohali in 2010. While in law school, during her internship at Anand and Anand, she was offered a job which she accepted and started working there after graduation. Thereafter she went to pursue Masters from Harvard Law School. After coming back to India, she again joined Anand and Anand but this time as a Senior Associate. Currently she practices IP and Competition Law at Anand and Anand.
In this interview, she talks about:
- Law school experience at AIL
- LL.M from Harvard
- Career in Intellectual Property law
- Work at Anand and Anand
Tell us about your profile and how did you decide to study law?
I work with Anand and Anand and practice IP and competition law.
Law was a fortuitous choice, and going to AIL was also a matter of chance – I was preparing for med school when a friend introduced me to the idea of going to law school. Being from an army background, Army Institute of Law seemed like a law school I could realistically get into.
What has been your experience on the NLU and Non-NLU divide?
Yes, there is some truth in that. Luckily for me, I interned and now work at a firm that doesn’t differentiate amongst its resources on an NLU/Non-NLU divide.
After graduating from AIL, you joined Anand and Anand as an Associate. How did the appointment take place?
I was offered a job at Anand and Anand during an internship. As an associate, I assisted senior members of the litigation team. The learning curve of a litigating lawyer is steep and there is of course a lot to catch up with in terms of what the law is and how the legal machinery actually functions as opposed to what one thinks of the legal system in law school.
How would you describe your experience while studying Masters from Harvard Law School?
I always wanted to have a more fulfilling academic experience, hence an LL.M. I have come across people in the profession who feel that an LL.M. has very limited value for a litigating lawyer. In my experience, the LL.M. year opened my mind to diverse ideas, which I believe is a great ‘value addition’ for a lawyer irrespective of the field of law he or she is practicing. The LL.M. year is not just about academics but is a great opportunity for personal growth.
After coming back from Harvard you were offered the position of a Senior Associate at Anand and Anand. How would you say the LL.M affected your career?
There are several factors involved in the process – time at the firm and ability to handle individual responsibility are examples of criteria the firm may look at. I was directly offered the rank of Senior Associate after my LL.M from Harvard.
An LL.M., at the very least, does refine ones thinking, which is a great boost. My responsibilities at Anand and Anand have increased over the years. One must bear in mind that foreign education comes at the price and must be prepared to make such an investment.
Tell us a bit about work culture at Anand and Anand and the life of a Senior Associate.
I am happy to be working with people who are as passionate, if not more, about the law. We enjoy our work and team work is our strength. I handle matters in consultation with the partners. My responsibilities include handling day to day requirements of clients, advisory work, appearances in court and taking forward the competition law practice of the firm.
How did you build up your expertise in IPR? Tell us about your work experience.
I learnt a lot during internships and on the job. Like I said before, there is a huge gap between what we study in law school and how we actually practice law. It is important to bridge that gap – a headstart in college by focusing on quality internships is very important. The role of an IP lawyer may involve several facets like transactional work, consultancy, prosecution or litigation. The key is to do your job and to do it well. Attention to detail is a quality that can help one go a long way in this profession.
I most enjoy working on matters at the cusp of IP and competition law. This includes FRAND and compulsory licensing problems. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I feel there is no substitute for hard work (and good strategy!)
If you are passionate about IP, life will be much simpler as an IP lawyer.
Mistakes happen – it’s fine as long as you learn and move on. As I have learnt over the years, it important to try because most mistakes can be corrected.
How are internships helpful for a law student? What are the other options available for someone interested in IP?
Internships are a must. Diligence is well appreciated during internships.
It’s always helpful to have an idea of the relevant substantive and procedural law. General awareness of burning issues in your field of interest will help.
Working with start ups, or having your own legal start up, may be a lucrative option in some cases. Alternatively, teaching, clerking with courts, or working for a government agency are other options to explore.
How do you maintain your work-life balance?
This is a tough one. My husband is also a lawyer so both of us work long hours. The trick is to take benefit of any break, long or short, that comes our way.