“Each sector presents its own unique set of legal considerations, regulations, and challenges, requiring a nuanced approach to ensure compliance and mitigate risks effectively…” – Saurabh Tamang, Head – Legal at Sahakar Global Limited

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

You pursued your Bachelor of Legal Science and LL.B from Government Law College, Mumbai. Can you walk us through the pivotal moment or experience that led you to choose law as your career path? What inspired you to take up law, and how has that decision shaped your professional journey?

My decision to pursue law was greatly influenced by my father, who is also a lawyer. Following in his footsteps, I decided to study law, which led me to explore opportunities beyond my hometown of Gangtok. With a strong desire to receive a high-quality legal education, I set my sights on the prestigious Government Law College (GLC), Mumbai.

GLC, with its rich heritage and esteemed alumni including Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Lokmanya Tilak, and Justice M. C. Chagla, among others, stood out as a beacon of legal excellence and securing a seat in the five years B.LS., LLB. degree Course at GLC was a significant challenge, considering the limited availability of seats and the college’s reputation as one of the oldest and reputed law colleges in Asia.  For me, being accepted into GLC was a life-changing moment and marked the beginning of an exciting journey into the field of law. As a small-town boy, the opportunity to study at GLC opened doors to a world of knowledge, mentorship, and invaluable experiences that have immensely shaped my career and aspirations in law.

As I progressed through my education, I was fortunate to have opportunities to delve deeper into legal studies and gain practical experience through internships and moot court competitions. These experiences solidified my passion for the subject of law and reinforced my desire to pursue it as a career.

Since making the decision to pursue law, my professional journey has been both challenging and rewarding. It has involved continuous learning and growth. Each step along the way has further shaped my understanding of the law and deepened my commitment to serving organizations through the field of law.

While my journey in the legal profession is still unfolding, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had thus far and excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. I look forward to contributing to the legal profession and making a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

Your journey through various prestigious organizations like JP Morgan Chase, Thomson Reuters, and GroupM showcases a diverse career path. What inspired you to pursue such a varied professional trajectory?

Thank you for noticing the diversity in my professional trajectory. My journey through organizations like JP Morgan Chase, Thomson Reuters, and GroupM and others, has indeed been varied, and each experience has contributed to my growth and development in unique ways.

What inspired me to pursue such a varied career path is a combination of factors, including a thirst for learning, a desire for new challenges, and a curiosity about different industries and sectors. I have always been someone who thrives on variety and enjoys exploring different facets of my interests and skill sets.

Working in organizations across finance, media, IT, real estate, etc., has helped me develop a versatile skill set that I can apply across different domains, from financial analysis and strategic planning to data analytics and marketing.

Moreover, each role I have taken on, has presented its own set of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Whether it is navigating the fast-paced environment of a financial institution, staying ahead of industry trends in media and advertising, or leveraging data and technology to drive business outcomes, I have embraced each challenge as a chance to expand my knowledge and expertise.

Ultimately, I believe that a varied career path not only keeps things interesting but also allows for greater adaptability and resilience in an ever-changing professional landscape. By seeking out diverse experiences and continuously pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I am able to stay agile and open to new opportunities that come my way.

While my journey may seem unconventional to some, I see it as a reflection of my willingness to explore, grow, and evolve as a professional. I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and look forward to continuing to learn, innovate, and make a positive impact wherever my career takes me.”

As someone who has worked extensively across different sectors including Real Estate & Construction, Media & Entertainment, Information & Technology, and Labour & Employment, how do you navigate the complexities of each industry’s legal landscape?

Navigating the complexities of legal landscapes across diverse industries such as Real Estate & Construction, Media & Entertainment, Information & Technology, etc., has been both challenging and rewarding. Each sector presents its own unique set of legal considerations, regulations, and challenges, requiring a nuanced approach to ensure compliance and mitigate risks effectively.

In my experience, the key to navigating these complexities lies in a combination of thorough research, ongoing education, collaboration with industry experts, and a proactive approach to staying informed about emerging trends and regulatory changes.

First and foremost, understanding the specific legal frameworks and regulations governing each industry is essential. This involves conducting comprehensive research and analysis to familiarize oneself with industry-specific laws, standards, and best practices.

Additionally, staying abreast of legal developments through continuous learning and professional development is crucial. Whether it is attending industry conferences, participating in relevant workshops, or engaging in ongoing legal education courses, staying informed about the latest trends and changes in the legal landscape is essential for effective navigation.

Collaboration with industry experts, including legal counsels specialized in each respective sector, can also provide valuable insights and guidance. By leveraging their expertise and staying connected to industry networks, one can gain a deeper understanding of industry-specific challenges and opportunities.

Furthermore, as an in-house counsel, maintaining open communication and collaboration with internal stakeholders across different departments or business units is essential. By fostering cross-functional collaboration, legal professionals can gain valuable insights into the unique needs and priorities of each sector within the organization, enabling them to tailor their legal strategies accordingly.

Ultimately, successful navigation of the legal landscape across diverse industries requires adaptability, agility, and a proactive approach to addressing legal challenges and opportunities as they arise. By staying informed, collaborating with industry experts, and maintaining open communication with stakeholders, legal professionals can effectively navigate the complexities of each industry’s legal landscape and contribute to the overall success of the organization.

With your background in Financial Advisory Services at JP Morgan Chase, how do you think the financial industry has evolved in terms of legal compliance and risk management since you started your career?

There has been significant evolution in terms of legal compliance and risk management within the financial industry over the years. Since the beginning of my career, there have been notable shifts driven by regulatory reforms, technological advancements, and changes in market dynamics.

One of the most significant changes in the financial industry has been the tightening of regulatory frameworks following the global financial crisis of 2008. Regulators worldwide have implemented stricter rules and regulations aimed at enhancing transparency, stability, and consumer protection. This has necessitated a greater focus on legal compliance and risk management within financial institutions.

In response to these regulatory reforms, financial institutions have invested heavily in compliance infrastructure and risk management systems. There has been a growing emphasis on implementing robust compliance programs, conducting thorough risk assessments, and establishing effective internal controls to mitigate legal and regulatory risks. 

During my stint with Thomson Reuters Pangea3, I was a crucial member of the Corporate Governance, Risk Management & Compliance team, where I played a key role in successfully spearheading several pilot projects related to legal compliance & risk management for many prominent financial institutions such as Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, etc., which are now considered as benchmarks in the industry. For this contribution I was fortunate to be bestowed with the Leadership Award, 2012 by Thomson Reuters.

Furthermore, advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in transforming how legal compliance and risk management are approached within the financial industry. The adoption of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics has enabled financial institutions to enhance their risk identification and monitoring capabilities. These technologies enable more proactive and data-driven approaches to compliance and risk management, allowing institutions to identify potential issues more efficiently and effectively.

Additionally, there has been a greater recognition of the interconnectedness of legal, compliance, and risk functions within financial institutions. Collaboration between these functions has become increasingly important to ensure a holistic approach to managing risks and complying with regulatory requirements. Cross-functional teams work together to assess risks, develop compliance strategies, and implement controls that align with both legal and business objectives.

As the Head of Legal at Sahakar Group, what are the key legal challenges you encounter in the user fee collection and renewable energy sectors, and how do you address them?

As the Head of Legal at Sahakar Group, I encounter several key legal challenges in both the user fee collection and renewable energy sectors. In the user fee collection sector, we work along with several government authorities across the country such as the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), etc., and some of the main challenges include ensuring compliance with regulations governing fee collection, addressing disputes related to labour, contract terms with the authorities, and safeguarding customer data and privacy.

To address these challenges, I work closely with relevant stakeholders within the organization to ensure that our fee collection processes and practices are fully compliant with applicable laws and regulations in addition to the requirement of the contracts with the authorities. This may involve conducting regular audits, staying updated on regulatory changes, and implementing robust internal controls to mitigate legal risks.

Furthermore, I place a strong emphasis on data privacy and security measures to protect customer information from unauthorized access or breaches. This includes implementing stringent data protection policies, ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations, and investing in secure technology infrastructure to safeguard sensitive customer data.

In the renewable energy sector, key legal challenges often revolve around regulatory compliance, permits and licensing requirements, land acquisition issues, and contractual negotiations with suppliers or project partners.

To address these challenges, I collaborate closely with our internal teams & stakeholders to ensure that our projects adhere to all relevant regulatory requirements and obtain necessary permits and licenses in a timely manner. This may involve engaging with regulatory authorities, conducting thorough due diligence on land acquisition processes, and negotiating contracts with suppliers or project partners to ensure favourable terms and mitigate legal risks.

Additionally, I stay informed about emerging legal trends and developments  including changes to government incentives or subsidies, evolving environmental regulations, and industry best practices. By staying proactive and adaptable, we can effectively navigate the legal landscape in the renewable energy sector and position our company for continued success in this rapidly growing industry.

Overall, by addressing these key legal challenges head-on and implementing proactive legal strategies, I aim to support Sahakar Group’s business objectives while ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements in both the user fee collection and renewable energy sectors.

Outside of your professional endeavors, do you have any personal hobbies or interests that you find particularly fulfilling or rejuvenating? How do you balance your work and personal life?

Outside of my professional endeavors, I do have several personal hobbies and interests that I find fulfilling and rejuvenating. Since I belong from the hills, one of my passions is spending time in nature and travelling. There is something incredibly therapeutic about immersing myself in the outdoors, whether it is exploring local trails, camping in remote wilderness areas, or simply taking a leisurely stroll through a nearby park. Connecting with nature helps me recharge and gain perspective, allowing me to return to my work with renewed energy and focus.

Balancing my work and personal life is essential for my overall well-being and happiness. To achieve this balance, I prioritize time management and boundary-setting. I allocate specific time slots for work-related tasks and responsibilities, ensuring that I stay focused and productive during designated work hours. At the same time, I make a conscious effort to carve out time for my personal interests and hobbies, treating them as non-negotiable appointments in my schedule, all of which help me recharge and rejuvenate both mentally and physically.

For aspiring legal professionals, especially those entering the field today, what advice would you give them to navigate the complexities of the legal landscape and build a successful career?

The legal landscape is constantly evolving, with new laws, regulations, and precedents emerging regularly. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize lifelong learning and stay updated on legal developments in your practice area. This can involve attending seminars, workshops, and legal conferences, as well as reading legal publications and engaging in ongoing professional development opportunities.

While it is important to have a broad understanding of the law, one may consider specializing in a specific practice area that aligns with his/her interests and strengths. Developing expertise in a particular niche can set a person apart from others and position him/her as a sought-after legal professional in that field.

Further, building a strong professional network is crucial for success in the legal industry. Taking advantage of networking events, bar association meetings, and alumni gatherings to connect with fellow legal professionals, mentors, and potential clients can be highly beneficial. Also we should look  to cultivate genuine relationships and seek opportunities to collaborate and learn from others in our network.

Another important thing to note is that theory is important, however practical experience is invaluable. As such, you should seek out internships, clerkships, or volunteer opportunities to gain hands-on experience in legal settings. Whether it is drafting contracts, conducting legal research, or appearing in court, practical experience will not only enhance your skills but also provide valuable insights into the day-to-day realities of legal practice.

Last but not the least, upholding ethical standards is fundamental to the practice of law. Always prioritize honesty, integrity, and professionalism in your interactions with clients, colleagues, and the judiciary. Adhering to ethical principles not only fosters trust and credibility but also protects your reputation as a legal professional.

By following these pieces of advice and remaining committed to your professional growth and development, you can navigate the complexities of the legal landscape and build a successful and fulfilling career in the field of law.

With your extensive experience spanning various sectors of law, from financial services to media and real estate, could you share with us which area of law you are particularly passionate about? What drives your interest in that specific field?

One of the main lines of business of Sahakar group is real estate and construction and I have worked on several construction & re-development projects in the organization.  As such, my particular area of interest in law has now become real estate and construction. What drives my passion for this field is the tangible impact it has on communities, economies, and the built environment, as well as the intricate legal frameworks that govern property rights, development projects, and transactions.

Real estate and construction law encompass a wide range of legal issues, including property transactions, land use regulations, zoning laws, construction contracts, environmental compliance, and dispute resolution. As someone who is fascinated by the intersection of law, business, and urban development, I am drawn to the complex legal challenges and opportunities that arise in this field.

One aspect that particularly excites me about real estate and construction law is its role in shaping the physical landscape of our cities and neighbourhoods. From acquisition and development of properties, negotiating construction contracts for large-scale projects, or navigating regulatory hurdles in land use and zoning, real estate and construction law plays a critical role in facilitating growth, infrastructure development, and urban revitalization.

Moreover, I am passionate about the economic and social implications of real estate and construction activities, including issues of affordable housing, sustainable development, and community engagement. Real estate and construction law intersects with broader societal goals such as environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic development, providing opportunities to address pressing challenges and promote positive outcomes for communities and stakeholders.

Overall, my interest in real estate and construction law stems from a desire to leverage my legal expertise to address complex issues related to property rights, development, and urban planning. By working in this field, I am able to contribute to the responsible and sustainable growth of our built environment while also advocating for the interests of clients, communities, and the public good.

Being honored with the Lex Falcon Global Award and recognized as one of the Top Ten Chief Legal Officers of 2023 is truly remarkable. Could you share with us a pivotal moment in your career that you believe contributed to these accolades?

Thank you for your kind words. Being honored with the Lex Falcon Global Award and recognized as one of the Top Ten Chief Legal Officers of 2023 was indeed a humbling and gratifying experience for me. Reflecting on my career journey, I believe there have been several pivotal moments that have contributed to these accolades.  On several occasions I was fortunate to get the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, strategic vision, and legal acumen in the organizations that I was associated with, which have ultimately led to the recognition I received with the Lex Falcon Global Award and recognition as one of the Top Ten Chief Legal Officers of 2023. These accolades remind me of the hard work, dedication, and passion that I have always endeavoured to bring to my role as a legal professional, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact in the legal field

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