Higher Studies

Arnavi Panda, Legal Advisor, Global Marketing Systems, on LLM from NUS, preparing for moots and working in shipping industry

Arnavi Panda is a graduate from ILS Law College, batch of 2015. She then went on to pursue her Master’s degree in Maritime Law from the National University of Singapore. She has participated extensively in various national and international moots including  Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot and William C. Vis International Arbitration Moot. She is presently a Legal Advisor in Global Marketing Systems, DMCC, Dubai.

In this interview she talks about:

  • LL.M from NUS
  • Scope of maritime law in India
  • Difference between universities in India and abroad

 

 

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO OUR READERS? PLEASE TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR PRE-COLLEGE LIFE?

I’d introduce myself as a young lawyer, passionate about the shipping industry and the associated legal practice with a keen interest in arbitration and alternate dispute resolution on weekdays and an amateur Latin American dancer always keen to network over the weekends!

Prior to college in Pune, I was fortunate to complete my high school life partly in Bombay and partly in Calcutta. The difference in lifestyle in both the cities was my first step to learning to embrace and appreciate diversity. I was always an energetic child, very keen to learn, very curious, a sports aficionado and always came home with scrapped knees or soiled clothes.

 

PLEASE TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR COLLEGE LIFE? HOW INSTRUMENTAL HAS YOUR COLLEGE BEEN SHAPING YOUR CAREER?

I spent five very crucial formative years in ILS Law College, a college I had always heard about being one of the oldest and prestigious colleges in the country for legal studies. It was an honor to have been accepted in face of the stiff competition and competitive cut-off marks.

ILS as an institution gives its students great autonomy and flexibility to make their own decisions on the course of their career. With five hours of classes a day, I made the most of my leisure time by writing research papers, working on moot court competitions, assisting professors, organising intra-college events and interning at law firms to acquire practical experience. Not only did this serve as great career building exercise but also a character building exercise which taught me to take responsibility for projects I undertook, honed my advocacy and leadership skills and made me realise the importance of being a team player.

 

YOU HAVE REPRESENTED YOUR COLLEGE AT PRESTIGIOUS MOOT COURT COMPETITIONS INCLUDING PHILIP C. JESSUP INTERNATIONAL LAW MOOT AND WILLIEM C. VIS INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION MOOT. HOW DO YOU RECOMMEND ONE SHOULD PREPARE FOR THEM? DO YOU THINK MOOTING IS SIGNIFICANT FOR LAW STUDENTS?

I have always believed the legal profession to primarily be an interactive profession with regular contact with various parties. Mooting not only hones one’s advocacy skills but also facilitates overcoming stage fear, builds self-confidence and develops public speaking and interpersonal skills.

Preparing for Philip C Jessup and Willem C. Vis played a major role in my development as a professional for a variety of reasons. My team and I dedicated about six to eight months preparing for these events which required long hours, late nights, developing legal research skills and most importantly knowing how to communicate and work as a team which is an indispensable quality at the work place. I would advise aspirants of these events to firstly pick the right team members who are of a similar professional temperament and are willing to dedicate the same amount of time and effort to these events as they quite literally become your closest friends during this time. It is important to work smart along with working hard which would include seeking guidance from previous participants on what to expect and how to research, the materials to be referred to and how to structure the arguments and lastly prepare with several mock trials. We were fortunate to have very helpful seniors, colleagues and faculty staff who gave us time to review our submissions and prepare for the oral hearing. Preparing and participating for these events is very stressful and I commend my teammates who did not give up despite the odds and went on to qualify as quarter-finalists at Vienna in 2015. Like any other participant of the event, I will have to say that it is absolutely worth every late night, every sacrificed internship and every missed movie/dinner/party!

While mooting does play a very important role in a law student’s life, I fully recognise that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, I would encourage everyone to have some mooting experience during law school as a career building exercise.

 

ARE THERE ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS DURING YOUR COLLEGE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

Five years of law school created a lot of pleasant memories but if I were to highlight the most memorable one of them all, it would have to be the day my team and I were adjudged as the winner of the intra-college international law moot court qualifying competition. This gave us the opportunity to represent ILS at the Philip C Jessup Moot where we were only two points short of qualifying to the World Rounds. The moto of the team was to only give our very best effort without expectation and consistently challenge ourselves to do better.

This was a defining moment for us as a team and was testament to the fact that with sincere hardwork, effort and humility, sky is indeed the limit!

 

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO GO FOR A MASTERS PROGRAMME? WHAT LED YOU TO CHOOSE MARITIME LAW AS YOUR SPECIALISATION?

I come from a family of teachers who have always believed that education never goes to waste. In the present competitive market, selecting a niche and mastering it is important to establish oneself and it was with thought in mind that I was focused on completing my masters coursework before stepping into the professional job market.

The shipping industry was an industry which I was familiar with since I was a child by virtue of my father’s affiliation with the Ministry of Shipping for the Government of India where he was the lead advisor and the IMO Representative for the Country on several occasions. The beauty of the maritime industry is that it is extremely multi-dimensional, involves a lot of cross-jurisdictional transactions and disputes and is extremely global in nature. I always knew that I would appreciate a contentious job a lot more than an advisory one and Maritime Law gave me the perfect avenue to combine my passion for international law, commercial laws and dispute resolution.

 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR YOUNG LAWYERS AND LAW STUDENTS LOOKING TO SPECIALISE IN MARITIME LAW?

I would strongly recommend young lawyers to pick maritime law as an area of expertise for a variety of reasons.

It is an excellent niche area to capitalise on. Given that India is a country with a vast coastline and there is significant Admiralty work which is always done in addition to the new Admiralty Act which was enacted last year; maritime law is a very promising career option.

However, I would also recommend aspirants to seek internship experience with a firm practising admiralty law to get an insight into the industry to make an informed decision. It is complex; it is contentious; it is challenging at every stage but is also very exciting, very glamorous and very international.

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS FOR LL.M. AT NUS?

The application for LL.M. at NUS is fairly standard as you would find in most universities worldwide. It is important to start preparing early by researching about the program you wish to apply for and the deadlines.

After submitting an online application, the candidate then has to send a physical copy of the application along with supporting documents (official transcript, degree scroll, recommendation letters) along with the application fee receipt to the university at the indicated address on the website. The results of your application are usually declared only three months after the application. (I remember receiving an acceptance from NUS as one of the last universities as opposed to my acceptances from USA, UK and Australia).

The information is easily available on the NUS website and the administration and admissions staff is very helpful, friendly and prompt with their assistance.

 

WHAT ARE THE NECESSARY TRAITS ARE REQUIRED TO BAG A SCHOLARSHIP FOR LL.M.? WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS FOR A SCHOLARSHIP AT NUS?

Like any university, it is highly advisable to have a consistent set of good grades in all years of academic study to secure a scholarship. Universities are usually keen to award scholarships to students who can display merit in academics and outstanding contribution even on extra-curricular activities. NUS has an additional requirement like a few other universities where it requests an Essay from a candidate on a current topic of their interest to assess scholarships awards. It is advisable to select an emerging topic of interest in the field of study that a candidate wishes to specialise in to increase their chances of success.

 

 

WHAT SHOULD BE KEPT IN MIND WHILE WRITING SOPS FOR LLM ABROAD? WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO SHARE YOUR SOP FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUNG LAW STUDENTS LOOKING TO APPLY ABROAD?

I cannot stress enough on the importance of being well researched on the coursework, the faculty, the program and most importantly the industry. An ideal statement of purpose in my experience would be one which highlights the candidate’s genuine interest in a field of study even though one may not have taken the ideal modules or courses during undergraduate study for the same. Personally, I have always conceived a SOP to be a personalised document which gives the institution a chnace to understand the candidate’s expectations, aspirations and background better in addition to the professional information that they already have handy from the resume.

 

PLEASE TELL US THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS AT GLOBAL MARKETING SYSTEMS, DMCC, DUBAI? HOW DID YOUR APPOINTMENT TAKE PLACE?

I was introduced to a representative of Global Marketing Systems, DMCC, Dubai while in Mumbai who advised I apply for the position. As is standard procedure, I was interviewed once my Resume was perused and shortlisted prior to an offer being made. Initially I was placed in the Singapore office for a period of 5 months before permanently moving to the head office in Dubai and taking over the complete compliance and legal portfolios at GMS.

 

AS LEGAL ADVISOR IN GLOBAL MARKETING SYSTEMS, DMCC, DUBAI, WHAT ARE YOUR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES?

My current role with Global Marketing Systems in Singapore and Dubai involves extensive risk assessment and legal advisory in relation to contract negotiation, drafting and execution not only for the sale, purchase and demolition of Vessels but also various standard form BIMCO operational contracts, time and voyage charter party contracts, contracts of afreightment, and marine insurance contracts. Currently, I assist and handle three portfolios in the Company namely, compliance and regulatory, legal dispute resolution, insurance claims. I am entrusted with advising the management and the procurement team of the risks in trading and purchasing vessels with prior claims, sanctioned vessels, commercial and legal intricacies of amended contracts and engaging external counsels to represent the Company in various litigation matters in India, Bangladesh and the EU as well as Arbitration proceedings commenced at the London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA) and Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA).

My current profile also involves general corporate advisory in relation to business development and expansion in offshore jurisdictions, employment matters in EU and non-EU jurisdictions and international taxation. This experience gives me a holistic understanding of the Shipping industry.

 

YOU HAVE ALSO WORKED AS LITIGATION ASSOCIATE AT CRAWFORD BAYLEY & CO., MUMBAI. WHAT IS THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS THERE?

I worked as an intern at Crawford Bayley & Co. on three different occasions from May 2012 to July 2014 during the semester break with the Admiralty Partner’s office during which period I was able to get valuable insight into the industry and the associated legal practise. Upon completing my master’s degree coursework, I successfully applied to the firm for a position of an associate and the firm was kind to accommodate me in their team and provide me valuable guidance and mentorship as a young lawyer.

I would recommend law students to carefully consider their internship experiences and if possible, show loyalty to a firm where they have enjoyed the work and the work environment and would like to see a future. An intern is as much an investment to a firm as a firm is an investment to an intern’s resume.

 

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR TIME AT NUS. WHAT SHOULD ONE EXPECT WHILE STUDYING ABROAD? HOW IS THE ENVIRONMENT DIFFERENT FROM COLLEGES IN INDIA?

My academic year at NUS was an eye opener for a variety of reasons. Studying abroad gave me the perfect exposure to different cultures, interaction with people of different nationalities and understanding their lifestyle.

The environment in universities abroad is one of friendly competition which is healthy for growth and encourages one to perform to the best of his/her ability. In my experience, universities abroad usually focus on the overall development of students and are less course intensive as opposed to Indian universities. The coursework and assessment structure is application oriented as opposed to theoretical knowledge which requires a thorough understanding of basic concepts and their applicability. It is this understanding which is ultimately most valuable to a prospective employer.

While the coursework was tasking, our faculty ensured that there were lots of activities organised to keep the student morale high even during exams which were particularly stressful. Most importantly, my time at NUS was a great platform to network, create lasting memories and have a friendly face to bump into in different parts of the world!

 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR WORD OF ADVICE TO OUR READERS?

Stay focused, stay motivated and never compromise on your mental and physical health. Make your hobby your job and you will always have a motivator in yourself even when the seas are rough!

 

 

 

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bhaskar Ganguly

    May 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Excellent , let me motivated myself for my own satisfaction of life.

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