“I think it’s important to bear in mind that we always need to keep our clients’ interests paramount and advocate their cases accordingly, whether before a regulator or across counterparties in any deals”- Rohan Kumar, Partner at Quillon Partners

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

Can you share with us what initially sparked your interest in pursuing a career in law, especially in the field of corporate transactions and mergers and acquisitions?

From my days in high school, when I needed to make a decision on my career, I was quite clear that I wanted to take up a career in law. I felt that a legal career would give me flexibility across other disciplines as well, such as journalism (which was my second option). While all my internships in law school were with litigators and litigation firms, I realised thereafter that my interest and skill sets were more suited to corporate transactions. Having said that, I still believe that all young lawyers should ideally start off with a litigation practice to gain an understanding of our courts system. Contracting, conveyancing and litigating in the courts (or in arbitration) are all inter-connected. If you look at any of the older generation of lawyers, they are equally comfortable in a court, arbitration process, or negotiating an M&A or financing deal.

With over a decade of experience advising clients across various sectors, could you highlight a pivotal moment or experience that solidified your passion for corporate law?

I don’t think I can highlight any one moment. It’s a gradual process. Certainly, after the initial 3-5 years of practice, I did see myself working as a lawyer long-term and I continue to enjoy my work. The regulatory developments and changing business requirements ensure that there’s always a challenge to confront.

You’ve worked with esteemed law firms in India for several years before joining Quillon Partners. How did these early experiences shape your understanding of the legal profession and influence your career trajectory?

Each experience was unique and fulfilling. I have been extremely lucky to always have worked with not just wonderful lawyers, but wonderful human beings. My early experiences taught me the value of attention to detail, hard work and the right attitude. The rest will fall in place.

Your representative experience includes advising on significant transactions such as fundraise, investments, and mergers. Can you walk us through one of the most challenging projects you’ve tackled and the strategies you employed to navigate it successfully?

I was advising a client on a fast-track merger sometime around 2017-2018, which is when the provisions had been recently introduced and notified. The process was getting delayed, impacting the companies’ operations. We didn’t really have a template process / precedent to follow, other than the merger approvals under the regular S.230-232 provisions. I decided to appear before the Regional Director’s office to allay their concerns, pointing out relevant precedents under the regular S.230-232 provisions and we managed to secure the approval shortly thereafter.

Another challenging project was securing merger-control approval from the CCI back in 2013. It was one of the first merger-control filings our office was handling (the merger-control provisions had been notified a few years previously).

I think it’s important to bear in mind that we always need to keep our clients’ interests paramount and advocate their cases accordingly, whether before a regulator or across counterparties in any deals.

Having published articles on key reforms proposed by India’s capital markets regulator, could you discuss the importance of staying updated with regulatory changes in the legal field, especially in your area of expertise?

I cannot overemphasise the importance of staying updated with regulatory changes and developments. This impacts the advice we give our clients on a daily basis, whether in terms of structuring transactions or negotiating an investment. It’s a key differentiator in providing high quality and effective advice.

Transitioning from the Bangalore office to the Mumbai office of Quillon Partners, what factors contributed to this move, and how has it impacted your professional growth?

It’s been a wonderful experience, with a new set of challenges. It’s really taken me out of my comfort zone, but I have enjoyed the transition. Of course, it’s helped that I continue to work out of both the Mumbai and Bangalore offices and get to enjoy the best of both worlds. As an M&A lawyer, it just made sense to make the move, but I also needed to be sure of working with the right set of people. In a world that’s increasingly interconnected and where physical boundaries no longer remain a challenge, I felt it shouldn’t really make a difference, whether I’m based out of Mumbai or London or Singapore.

Drawing from your extensive experience, what advice would you offer to law graduates aspiring to specialize in transactional law and navigate the complex landscape of corporate transactions and mergers?

Don’t stop learning. Whether we have completed 5 years or 15 years of post-qualification experience, we need to keep learning, given the demands of this profession. Don’t restrict yourself to strictly ‘legal’ knowledge. Expand your horizons of learning. Keep abreast with great cinema, the arts and culture. This better informs your skill sets, especially soft skills, which is invaluable as a lawyer.

Get in touch with Rohan Kumar-

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