“By combining meticulous preparation and a strategic approach to litigation, we can effectively represent our clients’ interests and achieve favorable outcomes in high-value litigation cases.” – Sunav Rastogi, Advocate-on-Record at the Supreme Court of India.

This interview has been published by Namrata Singh and The SuperLawyer Team

Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and share your journey from growing up in a family of lawyers to becoming an Advocate-On-Record at the Supreme Court of India? Additionally, given your family background, did you ever contemplate pursuing a career outside the legal profession, or was the path of becoming a lawyer a natural and predetermined choice for you?

My name is Sunav Rastogi, and I am an Advocate-On-Record at the Supreme Court of India. Presently, I am a practising Advocate based in New Delhi. My journey into the legal profession was deeply influenced by my family background, as I grew up in a family of Advocates. From a young age, I was surrounded by legal discussions and immersed in the world of law.

As the allure of the law was so strong, I, at an early age, have decided to follow in the footsteps of my family members. My academic pursuits led me to pursue a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Nottingham University, which further solidified my passion for the legal profession. 

After completing my education, I embarked on my journey as an Advocate, starting from the District Court and gradually progressing to the High Court and eventually becoming an Advocate-On-Record at the Supreme Court of India. It has been a challenging yet rewarding journey, filled with opportunities to advocate for justice and uphold the rule of law.

Overall, while the path of becoming an Advocate may have been somewhat predetermined by my family background, it was ultimately my passion for justice and legal advocacy that drove me to pursue this career with dedication and determination.

You have extensive experience in handling high-value litigation cases. Could you elaborate on a specific strategy or approach you’ve used that yielded particularly favorable outcomes for your clients in litigation? What difference can we see in banking cases compared to other cases?

In handling high-value litigation cases, a key strategy that has often yielded favorable outcomes for my clients is thorough preparation combined with a deep understanding of laws and regulations.

This means early case assessment and strategic planning. This involves conducting a comprehensive analysis of the facts, legal issues, and potential risks associated with the case at the outset. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the case at an early stage, we can develop a tailored strategy to maximize our chances of success.

Additionally, in banking litigation, it’s crucial to leverage specialized knowledge of banking laws and regulations. Banks operate within a highly regulated environment and legal disputes involving banks often entail complex financial transactions, regulatory compliance issues, and intricate contractual arrangements. Therefore, having a deep understanding of banking laws and regulations allows one to navigate the complexities effectively and present a compelling case on behalf of the clients.

Furthermore, in banking cases, the stakes are often higher compared to other types of litigation. Financial institutions deal with substantial assets and liabilities, and the outcome of a legal dispute can have significant implications for their business operations, reputation, and financial standing. As a result, there is often a greater emphasis on resolving disputes efficiently and minimizing potential financial losses.

To conclude I say by combining meticulous preparation and a strategic approach to litigation, we can effectively represent our clients’ interests and achieve favourable outcomes in high-value litigation cases.

Your educational journey took you from Bangalore to Nottingham, shaping your understanding of both Indian and international legal systems. How has this dual perspective influenced your approach to legal practice, especially in cases with cross-border implications?

My educational journey from Bangalore to Nottingham has indeed provided me with a unique perspective on both the Indian and international legal systems. This dual perspective has significantly influenced my approach to legal practice, particularly in cases with cross-border implications.

Firstly, studying in both India and the UK has equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of different legal frameworks, procedures, and jurisprudence. This broad perspective allows me to draw upon diverse legal principles and methodologies when addressing complex legal issues, including those with cross-border elements. By leveraging insights from both the Indian and International legal systems, I can develop innovative strategies tailored to the specific needs of each case.

Moreover, my educational background has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the importance of cultural sensitivity and global legal competence. It has also honed my skills in cross cultural communication and collaboration.  In cases with cross-border implications, cultural nuances and differences in legal traditions can play a significant role and my learning thus far has proven invaluable in legal practice, particularly in cases involving multinational clients, cross-border transactions, or disputes spanning multiple jurisdictions. By fostering open communication and understanding between parties from different cultural and legal backgrounds, I can facilitate smoother negotiations and achieve more favorable outcomes for my clients.

As a seasoned professional, you’ve likely encountered situations where the law may not provide a clear solution. How do you approach such scenarios, and what guiding principles do you rely on to navigate legal gray areas effectively?

Encountering situations where the law may not offer a clear-cut solution is indeed a common challenge in legal practice. In such scenarios, I rely on several guiding principles to navigate legal gray areas effectively:

Firstly, thorough research and analysis are paramount. When faced with ambiguity in the law, I invest time and effort into researching relevant statutes, case law, legal commentary, and precedents. By conducting comprehensive research, I strive to identify any applicable legal principles or analogies that may shed light on the issue at hand.

Secondly, consultation and collaboration with colleagues and legal experts can be invaluable. Consulting with colleagues and experts provides diverse perspectives and alternative strategies.

Additionally, ethical integrity is paramount. In navigating legal gray areas, I remain committed to acting in the best interests of my clients while also ensuring compliance with ethical standards and legal obligations. Upholding the principles of fairness, justice, and honesty is essential in maintaining the integrity of the legal profession and fostering trust with clients.

In order to sum up, I approach legal gray areas with diligence, collaboration, ethical integrity, and strategic foresight, upholding the highest standards of legal professionalism and advocacy.

Your work involves representing clients in diverse legal forums, from District & Sessions Courts to the National Company Law Tribunal. How do you adapt your advocacy style to suit the nuances of each forum while maintaining consistency in legal arguments?

Adapting advocacy style to suit the nuances of diverse legal forums, from District & Sessions Courts to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), requires a keen understanding of the unique procedural rules, judicial dynamics, and audience expectations in each forum. While maintaining consistency in legal arguments across different forums is essential, it is equally crucial to tailor the delivery and presentation of those arguments to resonate effectively within each specific context.

To achieve this balance, I employ several strategies such as:

Comprehensive Understanding: Thorough understanding of the procedural rules, judicial preferences, and prevailing practices of each forum. This enables me to anticipate procedural requirements and adapt my advocacy style accordingly.

Strategic Emphasis: While maintaining consistency in legal arguments, I strategically emphasize aspects of the case that are particularly relevant or compelling within the specific forum. This involves highlighting jurisdictional issues, procedural matters, or legal precedents that resonate strongly with the Tribunal or Court.

Flexibility and Agility: Legal advocacy often requires flexibility and adaptability in response to unforeseen developments or judicial inquiries. Being prepared to adjust arguments in real-time while staying true to core legal principles.

Professionalism and Respect: Regardless of the forum, I uphold professionalism and respect for the judiciary, opposing counsel, and all parties involved. This includes adhering to courtroom decorum, presenting arguments cogently and respectfully, and engaging in constructive dialogue with the court or tribunal.

By integrating these strategies into my advocacy approach, I can effectively navigate the nuances of diverse legal forums while maintaining consistency in legal arguments. This adaptive approach maximizes the persuasive impact of my advocacy and enhances the likelihood of achieving favorable outcomes for my clients across various legal proceedings.

As someone deeply entrenched in the legal profession, what advice would you give to aspiring lawyers looking to carve out a successful career in today’s competitive legal landscape?

Aspiring lawyers face a competitive legal landscape today. Here are key tips for a successful career:

Invest in Education: Prioritize continuous learning to stay updated on legal developments. 

Develop Strong Legal Skills: Hone your legal research, writing, analytical, and advocacy skills early on. These are the backbone of legal practice and are crucial for providing effective representation to clients.

Gain Practical Experience: Join law firms or independent chambers for hands-on learning and insights into legal practice.

Build Professional Networks: Develop and Maintain relationships with seniors, mentors, and professionals within the legal community. Networking can open doors to opportunities, provide guidance and support, and facilitate professional growth and development.

Embrace Technology and Innovation: Stay current with tech tools to enhance efficiency and client service.

Maintain Professionalism and Integrity: Uphold ethics and integrity for long-term success.

Be Resilient and Persistent: Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance: Cultivate hobbies, interests and relationships for well-being and sustainability.

Given your experience in drafting and vetting consortium documents for loan accounts involving substantial sums, what measures do you take to ensure legal compliance and mitigate potential risks for all parties involved?

Drafting and vetting consortium documents for loan accounts involving substantial sums requires meticulous attention to detail, thorough legal analysis. To ensure legal compliance and mitigate potential risks for all parties involved, I implement the following measures:

Comprehensive Legal Review: Conduct a thorough legal review of all consortium documents, analyzing terms, rights, obligations, and dispute resolution mechanisms to ensure compliance with laws and standards.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Identify and mitigate potential legal risks such as compliance issues, contractual ambiguities, and credit risks through clear drafting and robust due diligence.

Customized Legal Solutions: Tailor consortium documents to meet the specific needs and concerns of all parties involved, drafting clear provisions to minimize disputes.

Clear Terms and Conditions: Ensure clarity in all terms related to loan disbursement, repayment, interest rates, collateral, and default provisions.

Documentation Accuracy: Ensure accuracy and completeness in drafting all consortium documents. Any ambiguity or inconsistency in the documents could lead to disputes or legal challenges in the future.

By adopting this proactive and systematic approach, I aim to ensure legal compliance and mitigate risks for all parties involved in consortium arrangements. 

Away from the courtroom, what hobbies or personal interests do you pursue to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and do you find any parallels between these activities and your legal work in terms of skills or mindset?

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for well-being and productivity. I recharge by pursuing hobbies like traveling, which broadened my horizons and fosters cultural appreciation. Mindfulness and meditation help me cultivate mental clarity and resilience amid the demands of legal work, enhancing focus and decision-making. Engaging in physical activities like playing squash and cycling not only promotes physical health but also reduces stress and boosts energy levels. These hobbies enrich my life, fostering qualities essential for success in both my personal and professional endeavors.

Your dissertation focused on the analysis of non-conventional trademarks. How do you see the evolving landscape of intellectual property law influencing commercial practices, especially in the digital age?

The evolving landscape of intellectual property (IP) law, particularly in the realm of non-conventional trademarks, is profoundly shaping commercial practices, especially in the digital age. As technology advances and consumer behavior evolves, businesses are increasingly relying on innovative branding strategies and creative forms of intellectual property protection to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and safeguard their competitive advantage. Several key trends in IP law are influencing commercial practices in the digital age:

Expansion of Non-Conventional Trademarks: Beyond traditional marks, businesses now use smell, color, sound, motion, and holograms for unique branding experiences.

Digitalization and Online Branding: E-commerce and social media have transformed how brands engage consumers, with trademarks crucial for product distinction, brand loyalty, and fighting online infringement.

Globalization and Cross-Border IP Protection: Global trade demands international IP protection, requiring businesses to navigate complex legal frameworks for safeguarding brands and innovations across borders.

Emergence of New Technologies: AI and VR bring new IP challenges and opportunities, necessitating proactive legal strategies for ownership, licensing, and enforcement.

Focus on Brand Experience and Consumer Engagement: In an increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses are prioritizing brand experience and consumer engagement to drive customer loyalty and retention. Trademarks are not just symbols of origin but also catalysts for immersive brand experiences that resonate with consumers across digital touchpoints.

Adaptation to Evolving Legal Frameworks: Regulatory changes and court rulings are continually shaping the landscape of IP law, particularly in areas such as copyright, patent, and trademark law. Businesses must adapt to evolving legal frameworks, stay compliant with regulatory requirements, and anticipate future developments to protect their intellectual property rights effectively.

Overall, businesses that embrace innovative IP strategies and adapt to evolving legal and technological landscapes will thrive in the dynamic digital marketplace.

In your opinion, what are some of the key challenges facing the legal profession in India today, and how do you think they can be addressed?

Certainly, the legal profession in India faces several challenges that require collaborative efforts from legal professionals, policymakers, regulators, and the judiciary. Some of the key challenges include:

Access to Justice: Marginalized communities need better access to justice. This requires expanded legal aid programs, alternative dispute resolution methods, improved legal literacy, and technological innovations. 

Quality of Legal Education and Training: Legal education needs improvement, including updated courses, better teaching methods, enhanced practical skills training, and continuous professional development for lawyers.

Ethical Standards and Professional Conduct: Upholding high ethical standards is crucial. This involves strengthening disciplinary mechanisms, promoting transparency, and increasing awareness of ethical responsibilities among legal professionals.

Legal Reforms and Policy Advocacy: Policymakers and regulators need to undertake legal reforms to address outdated laws, streamline legal procedures, and enhance access to justice. Legal professionals play a crucial role in advocating for legislative and policy changes that promote the rule of law, protect fundamental rights, and advance social justice

Technology and Innovation: Embracing technology and innovation can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of legal services delivery.

Collaborative efforts from legal professionals, policymakers, regulators, the judiciary, civil society, and the private sector are essential to overcome these challenges and advance the rule of law for all.

Get in touch with Sunav Rastogi-

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