“I feel each role contributes to your overall growth and helps in your evolution, if performed with full dedication”- Anjali Jain, Partner & Head – Insolvency & Restructuring Practice at Areness

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

Can you please share the journey of how you ended up specializing in Insolvency and Restructuring practice, considering your educational background in Constitutional and Criminal Law?

I always had a keen interest in Business, Economics, Finance and Commerce. I started my education with a B.Com (H) from Lady Shriram College, Delhi University and followed it up with LLB from Delhi University itself. While I had delved into Constitutional and Criminal Law for my Masters, my interest continued towards how law affects the economics of businesses and country as a whole, my post-graduation further strengthened my research and interpretation skills. The Insolvency Law in India has taken a rebirth in the year 2016 and post completion of my Masters, the newly enacted Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016 proved just to be the perfect practice area for me. IBC is one of its kind laws in India, more of a revolution. As I had already groomed myself on how to focus on a specific domain of law, specialising in Insolvency was only a path to be chosen. What really intrigued me about the Code, was how the law was laid from scratch with no baggage or burden of its previous laws and limited subject jurisprudence as well, I had the freedom to explore the various facets of law in light of statutory interpretation, legislative intent and judicial outlook. Also, lastly, I feel that building a practice in such a new law with hardly any precedents, skills developed in my Masters in Law from NLU – Delhi did help a lot. 

What would you say has been the most challenging case you’ve encountered, and how did you navigate through it?

Perhaps, every case brings with its own challenges, expectations, anticipations, and anxiety. To be honest, I am not a litigation practitioner, however, as a subject matter expert, we do participate in devising legal strategies. Sometimes the matters are at a very nascent stage where we get ample time for a 360-degree evaluation and then there are those cases where you have to prepare your front-facing team members for split second decisions. Each case brings with it its own experiences and learnings. If you have to ask me the most challenging case, mentioning one would be too unjust for the others, for reasons unknown to me so far, we are more often than not engaged in very typical particular matters only!

As a member of INSOL International, you’ve been part of various national and international forums. Could you tell us about a specific instance where you felt your participation made a significant impact or contribution to the discussions on Insolvency, Banking, and Corporate Affairs?

I have been very privileged to have been a part of discussions on law. What started as a resource person for law colleges, went onto being called for forums of policy discussions. Initially, it was more of an academic role with me professing how IBC works to law students. I also am actively involved as an industry resource for the Graduate Insolvency Programme at the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs. Some time back, I was invited by State Bank of India as a part of a training session of its Law Officers on IBC and its inter-relations with the Banking sector. In one of my most memorable discussions, a global conference held on Insolvency in December 2020 where I discussed the future of IBC, especially in the post CoVid era. Lately, I have been involved in policy discussions at ASSOCHAM.

Your professional journey involves managing a team, devising legal strategies, and handling financial planning. How do you balance the legal and managerial aspects of your role, and what advice do you have for aspiring legal professionals aiming to take on leadership positions?

When you transition from a technical or a professional role to a management role, there is a high probability of dilution of your technical skills. For me, it came as a matter of no choice to be honest to you. If I look back, I feel it was also my interest which motivated me to assume responsibilities of Management. As I mentioned earlier, I am really passionate about the Insolvency Law and the Management responsibilities are an additional charge for me. Luckily, I am able to devote time on Practice as well besides the Management, I feel it helps me in my continuous growth and evolution. What has helped me throughout has been a very supportive team. I have also learnt a lot from attending short term Management courses as well as reading Management books. 

My advice for aspiring legal professionals is to actively participate in various functions at their organisations such as client interviews, research, events, team management, etc. A sense of belonging towards your organisation, zeal to constantly learn and grow, participation in team meetings, events, etc., the leadership journey requires perseverance and persistence and there are countless minor unnoticeable steps which you have to climb to reach that leadership level. But not to miss out, invariable, leadership is a crown of thorns.

Given your involvement in numerous workshops for legal officials of PSBs, including SBI, what key insights or lessons have you gained from these sessions that you think are crucial for professionals in the field of Insolvency and Banking?

What I feel today’s times call for super-specialisation in any domain. In our interactions with officials of PSBs, what I have felt is lacking is perhaps being too overburdened with Managerial roles that professionals with such roles fall short of time for upscaling themselves on the subject. A law such as Insolvency is a very fast paced one. Not just the process, but the judicial pronouncements, policies, regulations and rules are almost updated every few days. I feel adequate time has to be devoted by every professional towards keeping himself/ herself updated on the latest developments of law.  

You’ve been recognized as a Rising Star in 2021 by Legal Era. What do you believe are the key attributes that contributed to this recognition, and how do you continue to stay at the forefront of your field?

I am not sure I can ever have an answer for that. I believe in simply delivering my responsibilities towards the best of my abilities regularly. However, if I have to answer that, I can only repeat that I push to keep myself updated on the law and the industry. What may have also worked for me is a complete client – centric approach which helps me start with the end in mind when I am assigned with any case, opinion or draft by our clients.

In addition to your legal practice, you’ve authored several publications and columns. How do you manage to balance your role as a practicing advocate with your commitments as a columnist and resource person for various platforms?

Balance is my life’s driving motto. I feel each role contributes to your overall growth and helps in your evolution, if performed with full dedication. I will give you an example here. For me, every column and publication gives me an opportunity to read in-depth on a particular proposition which I may not have in our daily professional commercially driven responsibilities. Likewise, every event where I participate as a speaker or a Resource Person, I read through comprehensively to ensure consistency and correctness. In a lot of our research reports, I get an opportunity to gain knowledge from a vantage point. So, you can say, every event, every publication or column also betters me and assists me in delivering my responsibilities as a practising advocate better. Also, it keeps the monotony at bay!!!!

As someone who has been actively involved in legal education, what advice would you give to fresh law graduates entering the field today, particularly those interested in Insolvency and Restructuring?

Though I feel it is still early days for me in this profession, still if I have to advise, I will only recommend law graduates to read a lot. As they say, there is no shortcut to success, likewise as much I promote advancement in technology and its use in the field of law as well, however, for a professional, responsibility is magnanimous. In the legal profession, we use our knowledge and skills for our clients at times, as officers of courts at others and for the public as a whole as well. Every judgment I have read through as a whole has helped me learn a lot more than giving me a solution for the matter at hand. Barring those who perhaps prepare for judiciary services, I find few actually even going through the entire statutes. Blogs and tools like ChatGPT can offer quick solutions when there is dearth of time, however, in early years, I would just advise young law graduates to read as much as they can. Lastly, I would say that in the initial years of your career, try to gain as much knowledge as possible and try to strengthen an overall understanding of how law works and over the years, choose a specific domain of law and build expertise in it.

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