“As Inhouse counsel, I have learnt how to mitigate the Legal risk, and started thinking like a Business man so that transactions can be materialized in a legal framework, also Team handling is a major learnings which came over the period of time”- Akhilesh Kumar, General Counsel at MBD Group

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

Can you share with us your journey into the field of law? What motivated you to pursue this career path, particularly focusing on corporate and securities laws?

It was continuously new learning every day and at every stage of my journey in the field of Law. After my law college and enrolment at Bar Council my first Guru is Sr. Advocate Mr. Kamal Nayan Choubey. He is one of the best Sr lawyer and legal luminaries practicing at Patna High Court. I have learnt a lot from him. He taught me court crafting and also taught me how much dedication is required to practice the law. During Practice I have also worked as Advocate Member at Mobile Lok Adalat under Bihar Legal Services Authority, also while practicing as a junior advocate associates with Sr Advocate Mr. K.N. Choubey I was thinking and dreaming about the in-house counsel’s/Legal Managers role in the corporate houses who earns well and dresses well, although my senior K.N Choubey ji was not in favour me to join any corporate houses.. as he used to say and pass comments on me jokingly that what In house counsels earn monthly you can earn more than that daily. But I had decided to join corporate house so started as Legal Manager at Pacific Development Corp Limited (Pacific Group, Delhi),  then joined Treasure World Developers Pvt Ltd at Indore M.P, then returned to Delhi again and joined Omaxe Ltd. as Chief Manager Legal, then GM Legal as SGS Group and presently working as Head of Legal at a large conglomerate MBD Group, it is clarified here that while you work as Head of Legal team then you have to have good knowledge in all field of Law, not specific. However, during my journey additionally, I did LLM in Corporate and Securities Law, Diploma in Cyber Law, PG Diploma in Human Rights, which helps me while dealing with the matters pertaining to the respective laws.              

With such a diverse educational background ranging from botany to law, how do you think your interdisciplinary knowledge has influenced your approach to legal practice, especially in the realms of corporate law and litigation management?

In the initial days, after my 10th I wanted to become a Scientist who has knowledge of plants/medicines so that I can formulate life saving drugs and Plant tonics, hence in 12th course taken Biology and thereafter in graduation Botany Hons. However, a litigation in my family changed my journey from Scientist to Lawyer/In House Counsel. Certainly the knowledge of Science always helps me in thinking systematically and with utmost patience in finding the right solution to any situation, because study of science requires a systematic approach and patience for the end result.      

You’ve worked with various esteemed organizations in different capacities such as GM-Legal, Corporate Counsel, and Chief Manager-Legal. Could you elaborate on how each role has contributed to your growth as a legal professional?

Fortunately , I always got the lead role in the Legal Team in my past organizations since starting as Legal Manager in Pacific till Legal Head in MBD, but yes each role has contributed to my skills and experience whatever I have at present time. Every organization has its own working style/process and each organization teaches something new, Like, while I was appointed first time Legal Manager then I learnt how to work in the corporate culture which is altogether different from working with a law firm or designated Sr Advocate. Nature of work is also different. As inhouse counsel you work as a Client who knows the Law/court procedure and deals with the matter through external counsel. As Inhouse counsel, I have learnt how to mitigate the Legal risk, and started thinking like a Business man so that transactions can be materialized in a legal framework, also Team handling is a major learnings which came over the period of time.    

Having handled litigations across a wide spectrum including commercial disputes, arbitration, consumer forums, and more, what do you consider as the most challenging aspect of litigation management, and how do you navigate through it effectively?

I have learnt that for proper management of any litigation of any nature the main thing is the collating the documents and relevant information pertaining to the case, management of case files, means one should must have grip on the facts of the matter and complete documents handy in the court , what and when to be presented before the court that is called court crafting and handling of litigations. Proper management of facts and documents increase 80% chances of winning the case and 20% merit in the matter. You do not require to explain to the Court what is Law but require to present your matter/facts events wise with all the supporting documents/information.   

Your expertise extends to drafting a myriad of legal documents and agreements. Could you walk us through your approach to drafting and vetting contracts, ensuring clarity and legal compliance?

I personally enjoy drafting, vetting and negations on the terms of the Agreement and drafting/vetting of the Legal Documents. It is an art and comes gradually when you practice more and more. While drafting I start visualizing the events and consequences of the things not covered in your drafting. For example, if I draft any Construction Agreement on behalf of the Owner who desires to build a building on his plot, then I place myself in the place of Owner and think like Owner and start visualising the consequences of not covering in the Clause of the specific events which eventually shall take place.         

As a legal head, you’ve been involved in mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate transactions. What strategies do you employ to ensure smooth legal processes in such complex endeavors?

I try to understand the exact requirement of the Management/Stakeholders and then start collating the data/information and documents. Thereafter we make a team of professionals who shall perform the work in a legal framework and achieve the desired goal.        

Over your 16+ years of experience, what have been the most significant shifts or developments in corporate law and litigation management, and how have you adapted to these changes?

There are several changes taken place and still going on day by day, like some Acts/Law changed such as Company Law, amendments in Arbitration, RERA law introduced, forum changed like Company law board to NCLT,  new RERA and Tribunal introduced, also some new Acts introduced like Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and for litigation management changed from manual management to digital management. Legal profession requires regular updates and demands one should be always adaptive with the changes either in law and technology.  

Finally, considering your vast experience and achievements, what advice would you offer to fresh law graduates aspiring to embark on a similar career path in the legal field, particularly focusing on corporate law and litigation management?

I would suggest being dedicated and focused on the subject, because it is not a part time job. He or she has to read apart from basic course materials all the subject related to corporate/commercial such as Company Law, Contract Act, Securities Law, SEBI Guidelines, Consumer Law, Arbitration, Competition law, IT Act, Data Protection Law, Cyber Laws, Partnership Act, Specific Relief Act, Bankruptcy & Insolvency Law, SARFAESI,  Tax Laws, Employment Laws, T.P Act, RERA, PMLA, etc.    It is also pertinent to mention herein that during study of law at least basic requirements of this profession should be well prepared.. such as command over the English language, knowledge of basic computer knowledge, knowledge of words, excel, power point, video conferencing ..means he or she should prepare him/herself to be well versed with the Technology/tools and systems used in the court proceedings.  Reading habits of Judgements/orders and case study shall help in increasing the understanding of the delivery of judgement/order and thinking of the court on the subject matter. One should also visit the court to understand the business of courts.    

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