“Every facet of what we do in the legal department has a key role to play in any decision making on the strategy of the organization”- Shalinee Kulshreshtha, General counsel, Dentsu International India

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

Can you share with us your journey from practicing law at Daksh Law Firm to transitioning into the corporate sector with multinational corporations like DuPont, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Honeywell? What motivated this shift, and how did your experiences shape your approach to legal matters in the corporate world?

It was an interesting one. I had no clue that one can become a corporate lawyer too. Coming from a small town, I only knew about practicing in courts. Then, I started interacting with in house counsels of our clients and understood how much we could do as corporate lawyers. That triggered the interest in being one and I never felt like going back. In the corporate world, you are part of business so one has to own and live the legal advice provided unlike law firms where one can separate themselves from it.

You’ve had extensive experience in handling various legal aspects such as litigation, contracts, mergers & acquisitions, and compliance across diverse industries. Could you elaborate on how your legal expertise intersects with your role as a business enabler within these industries?

Every facet of what we do in the legal department has a key role to play in any decision making on the strategy of the organization. For instance, our learnings from a litigation or contract could play a key role in making a decision of what business could be good/ lucrative for the future of the company. Gone are the days when Legal was being consulted only when there was a dispute. These days, Legal plays a crucial role in enabling business and making it profitable.

Being recognized as a leader with a strong ethos of collegiality and mutual respect, how do you foster a culture of integrity, compliance, and accountability within your organization, especially when dealing with complex business challenges?

It starts from you. If you stick to integrity and compliance in the very turbulent and stressful situation, people see you as a role model. The cost of non-compliance could be super expensive. It’s not always pecuniary, sometimes it could lead to massive reputational damage. If you are able to show that to others, it’s not difficult to get them on your side.

Throughout your career, you’ve worked with teams comprising members from different countries and industries. How do you navigate cultural and professional differences to ensure effective collaboration and achieve common business goals?

I have gone through multiple cultural training sessions that have helped me understand the fundamentals of many cultures. It helps in customizing the messaging when working with people from different countries. The business goals are always the same. So, if you are able to convince others that we are working towards a common goal and how you are there to support and achieve that, it’s not difficult to resolve conflicts.

Given your background in both law and business, how do you balance legal considerations with strategic business objectives, particularly when advising on high-stakes transactions or corporate governance matters?

In my view, it acts as a plus. Good understanding of business and law helps strike the balance when working with stakeholders from different departments. You are able to appreciate their perspective and help them see yours.

As someone who has been involved in multi-billion dollar transaction deals and has set precedents in legal matters, could you share some key insights or lessons learned from your most challenging cases or deals?

It’s always easy to say “no” but your value is understood by Business when you say it rarely. No business is risk free. So, working towards minimizing the risks could lead to successful outcomes and relationships. There were times when in challenging negotiations, I asked other party questions till I understood the reason for their reluctance in agreeing to something. When I came back home, I did not know what the solution was but since I had understood the problem, it was not difficult to find an answer through some introspection and out of box thinking.

With your extensive experience in areas such as data privacy, cyber laws, and competition law, how do you stay updated with evolving legal landscapes and ensure compliance with changing regulations, especially in the digital age?

I spend dedicated time over weekends to study. I also attend conferences and round table discussions where I find topics of interest. Also, I organize monthly knowledge sessions by law firms on evolving subjects for my team to upgrade ourselves. Interactions with peers from industry also help stay updated. This also helps keep a tab on upcoming trends and it makes it easy to keep pace and stay compliant in the changing world.

Your journey from being a top-performing student to receiving accolades such as the General Counsel of the Year reflects a remarkable career trajectory. What advice would you give to fresh graduates aspiring to pursue a similar path in law and business, especially in terms of navigating challenges and seizing opportunities in the professional world?

Never compromise on your integrity, stay persistent, keep learning and think “out of box”

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