“As a commercial lawyer in order to maintain a strong track record of repeat clients it is necessary to delve into the nitty gritty of the technical and commercial aspects as the same is an intrinsic part of problem solving”- Priyanka Sinha, Co-Founder & Partner at A&P Partners

This Interview has been published by Pragya Chandni and The SuperLawyer Team

Can you share with us your journey into the field of law, particularly your decision to pursue it as a career path? What inspired or motivated you to become a lawyer?

After my 12th standard, I was keen on taking up a professional course. I had not seen too many lawyers around me in my growing up years but I was intrigued to take up law as it had multiple disciplines. I had knowledge that during the 5 year course I would get an opportunity to explore the vastness that the law course would offer before treading my own career path. 

With your extensive experience in handling both domestic and international matters, what challenges have you encountered in navigating different legal systems and cultures, and how have you overcome them?

Whilst working on international disputes it is necessary to have a team of local councils who are not only a subject matter expert but have a strong understanding about the practices adopted in the particular territory. There is a departure in the practices adopted in different jurisdictions.  On one such instance whilst handling Insolvency matters in Germany it came to our knowledge that apart from preliminary insolvency and the final insolvency proceeding, there also exists a Pre-Insolvency Restructuring that takes place before occurrence of Insolvency. The Insolvency framework although stands structured in Germany but has many complexities which demands finer understanding of the legal aspects and applicability. Moreso, as per the German Insolvency laws it appears that the rights of an Insolvency Administrator is extensive as compared to the legal provisions provided in similar statutes of India. In another matter where a conviction order was passed by the French Court and we had to represent a reputed MultiNational Conglomerate and their officers, we discovered that there is a timeline of 5 days to file an Appeal in the Court of Cassation (The Supreme Court) from the Court of Appeal. We came across peculiarities where a matter of civil nature was transferred from a French commercial court to a French criminal court and subsequently a combined order was passed by both the Courts. These experiences are enriching as it gives a wide and holistic understanding of the subject matter. One feels elevated whilst handling these matters as you begin to appreciate and  engage in a comparative understanding of the practices, judicial precedents adopted/applicable in different jurisdictions. 

As a trusted counsel to several large Multinational Companies, Indian Corporates, and High Net Worth Individuals, what strategies do you employ to build and maintain strong client relationships?

We primarily focus on Partner availability for all our mandates as client satisfaction is the primary objective for us. We adopt a problem solving and solution-oriented approach which is ingrained in our Firm’s ethos and acted upon by the team. In today’s time and age with information being widely available, we have noticed that Clients are well read and aware of the legal provisions, however when they reach out to us and need us to handhold them on any particular issue, the same needs to be solution oriented. As a commercial lawyer in order to maintain a strong track record of repeat clients it is necessary to delve into the nitty gritty of the technical and commercial aspects as the same is an intrinsic part of problem solving.  We also adopt a Flexi Model with regard to billing which ranges from hourly billing/ lumpsum/ retainership fees which adds client’s convenience. We appreciate constructive feedback from our clients. For our MNC and corporate clients we are able to maintain a strong relationship with them as our advisory is not limited but it extends post closure of a transaction/ submission of a deliverable. We apprise them of the developments in the relevant sector, extend our support to navigate through concerns that may arise after execution of a contract. 

You have a strong track record in successfully representing clients in litigation and dispute resolution. Can you share with us a particularly challenging case you’ve worked on and how you approached resolving it?

Well, every case is challenging in its own respect, however there was a case where we represented the Petitioners (unmarried couple) before Hon’ble Bombay High Court wherein our clients sought to be appointed as the guardian of the minor child. Although the petitioners (both Hindus) were the biological parents of the minor child, the mother i.e. Petitioner No.1 was married to the Respondent (Muslim) when the child was born, therefore the Muslim Muslim personal laws were applicable to the child. It is a well settled position that the Muslim Personal law does not recognize legitimacy of the child and the mother as the natural guardian in such scenarios. However, the Court keeping the interest of the child as paramount consideration appointed and declared the Petitioners, though in a live-in relationship, were appointed as natural and legal guardians of the Minor child by virtue of being biological parents of the child. In the given scenario, apart from the other challenges we encountered the limitation with respect to carrying out a Paternity test in India and proving the Petitioner as the biological Father of the child.

Given your expertise in various practice areas such as Construction, Corporate and Commercial, Media and Entertainment, and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Laws, what advice would you give to young lawyers who are looking to specialize in a specific area of law?

In the current times there are multiple niche areas that are growing in the field of Law. An advice that I would like to give to young lawyers is that one should explore each and every area of law. These newer areas have ample opportunities that young lawyers can grab onto. Further, young lawyers need to be agile and take up work in different aspects of law rather than restricting their practice areas in the initial few years of their career. 

You have been actively involved in mentoring entrepreneurs, startups, and MSMEs. What are some common legal challenges you’ve observed among these clients, and how do you assist them in overcoming these obstacles?

Many cities in India have seen a growth of MSME’s. These MSME’s however are not familiar with the regulatory framework, and therefore a lacuna arises when they are unaware about certain aspects such as the recovery of dues and claims. For Startups and Entrepreneurs, I have seen Entrepreneurs appoint a lawyer only when there is a dispute or a situation that requires the presence of a lawyer. There are certain important aspects such as those of the regulatory nature and agreements that should be in place at the inception such as a co-founder agreement or a shareholder’s agreement that is ignored by many first time entrepreneurs. It is imperative for Startups to take legal advice during the lifecycle of the company in all its growth stages and not only at a firefighting stage. 

Lastly, considering your wealth of experience and accomplishments in the legal field, what advice would you offer to fresh law graduates who are just starting their careers?

As stated above, for fresh law graduates’ agility is one important personality trait that they should imbibe within themselves. Young lawyers need to be agile and should not limit their practice areas in the initial few years of their career. Also, a young lawyer should patiently take interest in understanding commercial and technical aspects whilst working on any mandate/matter.

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