As I’ve gained experience, honed my skills, and discovered my areas of expertise, I’ve found a sense of fulfillment in my work that I may not have anticipated earlier in my career- Shivam Sinha, Partner (Commercial Disputes & Regulatory) at Sagus Legal

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

Can you walk us through your journey from starting as an Assistant Manager, Legal at Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. to becoming a Partner at Sagus Legal? What were some pivotal moments that shaped your career path?

Allow me to capture my professional journey so far as succinctly as possible (don’t want to bore the readers). I am from the first B.A LLB batch of Jindal Global Law School which graduated in 2014. During the placement cycle I ended up getting an offer from JSPL and a lucrative one for that matter. At JSPL, I majorly worked on the corporate side along with handling a few electricity generation related matters. 

After this initial phase of 2 years, I transitioned to a law firm, marking a pivotal juncture in my career trajectory. Embracing the dynamic environment of firm practice, I embarked upon a journey characterized by specialization yet having experience of diverse work, client engagement, and the relentless pursuit of delivering desired results to the clients. Over the subsequent 7 years, I immersed myself into having a core specialization along with having experience in diverse practice areas, honing my expertise and assuming progressively substantive roles within the firms I was part of, which eventually led to me becoming a Partner in Sagus Legal last year. However, I sincerely believe that ‘Partner’ is a designation outlining my roles/responsibilities and nothing more than that. My career graph as a professional has only begun and hopefully, I am able to contribute much more.

You’ve had experience working both in-house and in law firms. How did these different environments influence your approach to practicing law and the type of work you pursued?

Working in-house versus at a law firm is like comparing apples and oranges – they’re both fruits, but they have their own unique flavours. When I was in-house, the role demanded both managerial and legal acumen. I worked closely with folks from different departments, understanding their needs, and figuring out how legal could support them. It was like being the legal quarterback, always strategizing to keep the company moving forward while avoiding legal pitfalls.

Whereas in law firms, one needs to have a much more holistic understanding of law. You strive to become the go-to person for that slice of legal expertise, whether it’s corporate law, litigation, or something else entirely. It’s intense, with tight deadlines and high stakes, but it hones your skills like nothing else and it’s also incredibly rewarding to see your expertise in action. Plus, there’s a strong emphasis on client service. You’re not just a lawyer; you’re a trusted advisor, making sure your clients feel supported every step of the way.

Overall, both experiences have shaped me into a more versatile and adaptable lawyer. But if a fresher is inclined to go in-house straight after law school, I would suggest that she or he should first spend a few years in law firms or a chamber of some experienced lawyer. That ways’ you will be able to contribute much more as an in-house lawyer. 

Could you share some highlights or memorable cases from your time representing major corporate houses?

In the past few years, I have had the privilege of doing matters which are of sectoral importance. The most recent one would be the Judgment passed by Appellate Tribunal for Electricity where I was representing Distribution Companies of State of Odisha in one of the appeals in the batch. I won’t get into technicalities but to give a brief, in this matter Indian Railways was seeking status of Deemed Distribution Licensee status, and the Distribution Companies were opposing the same as that would be against the framework of the parent statute governing the electricity sector i.e. The Electricity Act, 2003. APTEL dismissed the appeals and did not allow the status being sought by Indian Railways. The Judgment has a nationwide impact as in case APTEL would have granted the status of Deemed Distribution Licensee to Indian Railways, there would have been a consequential impact on energy charges being paid by all the other set of consumers across India.  

You’ve been recognized for your work in handling complex projects and energy disputes across various forums. Can you share some insights into the strategies you employ when dealing with such high-stakes matters?

In handling complex projects and energy disputes across various forums, my approach is rooted in thorough preparation, strategic planning, and effective communication. Before delving into any matter, I ascertain the client’s goals and objectives, as much as possible. This enables me to develop a tailored strategy aligned with their desired outcomes and anticipate potential challenges. Throughout the process, I maintain open lines of communication with clients, keeping them informed of progress, developments, and potential risks or opportunities. Collaboration is also key, as I leverage the expertise of colleagues to address complex legal issues from multiple perspectives. Flexibility and adaptability are also important aspects, allowing me to navigate evolving challenges. By employing these strategies, I strive to achieve the best possible outcomes for my clients while mitigating risks and maximizing opportunities in high-stakes matters.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career thus far, and what motivates you to continue practicing law in your areas of expertise?

The most rewarding aspect of my career journey so far has been the evolution from uncertainty to clarity. While I may not have initially been clear about my career trajectory, the process of exploration and self-discovery has been immensely rewarding. As I’ve gained experience, honed my skills, and discovered my areas of expertise, I’ve found a sense of fulfillment in my work that I may not have anticipated earlier in my career.

Finally, what advice would you give to recent law graduates aspiring to make a mark in the field of energy law or law in general, based on your experiences and journey?

Law as a profession is very dynamic and engaging. It demands a lot out of you but rewards you with constant intellectual stimulation and knowing that your work has a meaningful impact is incredibly fulfilling. There is no straight jacket formula for making a mark though one necessarily has to keep at it, day in and day out. Experimenting in early years of a career is fine but frequent jumping of ships doesn’t really help in the long run. 
The journey of a lawyer is a long one. Don’t rush into things. At times things will work in your favour, at times it won’t but in the end, you will end up learning something out of the entire process. I would like to conclude by quoting the famous statement of Justice Joseph Story “The law is a jealous mistress and requires long and constant courtship. It is not to be won by trifling favors, but by lavish homage.

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