Ma’am, can you please provide a brief introduction about yourself and your journey into the field of law?
Hi. I am Priyanka Sethia and I have been practicing at various Courts and Tribunals across India, as an advocate for over 10 years.
I graduated in the field of law in 2013 and got an LL.M. in Corporate and Financial laws in 2021, while being in the profession and gained further certifications as opportunities presented themself.
I am a certified negotiator accredited by London School of Economics & Political Sciences  and a certified POSH (Diversity & Inclusion) Trainer .
I started my own law chamber – Chambers of Priyanka Sethia, in 2021 and we take up civil and commercial matters for various individual and corporate clients as well as deal in corporate practice.
With over 10 years of experience, you have established yourself as a prominent figure in the legal fraternity. What inspired you to pursue a career in law and eventually become an advocate?
I have shared this before, but this story never gets old for me. So, my career in law wasn’t really a given from the very beginning and I am a first generation lawyer. My roots find themselves etched in a very traditional business family. It so happened that one day, I was late to school by a few minutes and the Head of Department, Accounts who was in charge of the School Assembly that day, asked me to go back home as I was late!
It was however only my first late show and I was aware of the finely printed school rules and regulations, set out in our Daily Academic Planner that permitted a student three late shows before being sent back for the day. With great respect, I politely took out the Academic Planner from my bag, opened the rules section and read it out to the said school teacher which stated that I had to be given three opportunities/warnings, before I could be sent back home for being late. I certainly could attend school that day but only saw disdain in that teacher’s eyes for me, on all days thereafter. Thankfully it was my last year in school and I then realized the power of Laws and Rules framed thereunder and the joy of knowing and abiding by it and of course realized my interest in reading the fine print.
Decision to pursue law came organically to me but the decision to choose between Litigation vs Corporate Law never comes easy for anybody. While the heart wants to be in the courts and explore the passion of arguing vociferously for the clients and their cause, the mind seeks to showcase the drafting skills. So now, my Chamber is trying to strengthen both its litigation team and its corporate practice team, by continuously levelling up with diverse certifications, hiring new talent and continuous practice. At the moment, I head both the verticals and with a recent certification in POSH (Diversity & Inclusion) Training, I hope to offer various training to Corporates, in this arena.
You founded the Chambers of Priyanka Sethia in 2021. Could you share the motivations behind starting your own law chambers and the vision you have for it?
I have worked with some of the most incredible seniors in Profession who have mentored me throughout and continue to handhold me through difficult situations. After assisting them for about 8 years, I realized that I was ready to explore legal practice from my own perspective.
And so, post the Covid scenario, with experience that I had gathered from my seniors and mentors, and a postgraduate degree in my choice of practice area, I delved into independent practice and started Chambers of Priyanka Sethia in November, 2021.
My vision for the chamber is to render exceptional legal services to our clients while being on an upward trend in the number of fresher hirings. I take pride in the fact that I welcome freshers with 0-6m experience and it’s lovely to draw inspiration from their passion and exuberance. On the work front, the chamber is striving to strengthen both its Litigation Practice and Corporate Practice.
You are a certified negotiator accredited by the London School of Economics & Political Sciences. How has this certification influenced your approach to negotiations, and what role does negotiation play in your legal practice?
While engaging in Corporate Practice, often we find ourselves negotiating terms of the contract on behalf of our clients. Many-a-times, the other party is situated outside India and has a completely different approach towards the drafts/agreements compared to the Indian scenario. Being sensitive to their background, ethos, laws and culture is the key. My certification in negotiations has helped me in bridging that gap and comes in handy especially while dealing with International Corporates and has added an edge in fostering new relationships, executing contracts, and arriving at settlements.
Your experience covers a wide range of legal areas, including corporate practice, commercial litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and more. Can you highlight some key experiences that have significantly contributed to your growth as an advocate?
Every case is a new learning. One cannot limit their learnings to the law. I strongly believe every person we meet is a new experience, we become wiser with each interaction. Every client, every cross examination, every meeting, every briefing in itself presents a new experience and contributes to one’s growth.
Your expertise extends to regulatory compliance and privacy laws. How do you approach these complex areas, and what challenges do you typically encounter in ensuring compliance for your clients?
To cite one instance, often we find that the law enforcement agencies are not well trained to understand and implement the law at the grassroot level. Recently, while dealing in a legal metrology matter, we observed that the department officer had no exposure to a couple of years old amendment in the law and required sensitization. Routinely issuing notices just to meet targets is a norm and needs to change.
You champion the cause of women emancipation. How do you integrate this advocacy into your legal practice, and what initiatives have you undertaken to contribute to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession?
I believe having freshers on board or having non NLU advocates in the team is the biggest inclusion point in our profession. I am open to having good talent on board without any preconceived notions or unconscious biases.
Besides, I take up matrimonial matters for marginalized women pro bono and ensure that they are taken to a logical conclusion.
Considering your successful journey in law, what advice would you give to fresh graduates aspiring to pursue a career in law and make a mark in the legal profession?
Success is a subjective term. On the work front, my request to fresh graduates aspiring to pursue a career in law is to be consistent. Do not give up without giving it a fair shot and some time. Also, there is a great demand for lawyers with expertise in niche areas. One could also choose their practice area earlier on in their career and proceed further in that direction.
And, Pursue a hobby alongside the profession. This helps in keeping sane as well as sticking through.
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