“It is extremely important to keep your head down and continue working hard at every stage of your career”- Pratiksha Mishra, Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court of India

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

Pratiksha, it’s a pleasure to have you with us. Could you start by introducing yourself to our readers, giving a glimpse into your journey from law school to becoming an Advocate on Record at the Supreme Court of India?

I graduated from the Army Institute of Law in 2015. I began law school with the idea of venturing into the corporate/transaction side. However, during my early internships I realized that I enjoy litigation and foresee myself practicing in courts. This was largely because of the mentors I came across during the course of internships and, my senior and  very close friend from college, Niyati Kohli who really encouraged me to pursue litigation. 

I started my career at the chambers of Mr. Balaji Srinivasan, Advocate on Record where I got the opportunity of independently handling matters before the Supreme Court and a variety of other forums such as the TDSAT, NCLAT and the NCDRC. The professional guidance and moral support I got from Mr. Srinivasan helps me with my work even today.  I must also mention that I had a wonderful set of colleagues at the chamber with whom a 7-day work week never felt burdensome. 

Having worked at an AOR Chamber, appearing for the AOR exam had always been a priority. By the time I became eligible and appeared for the exam, I was at Khaitan & Co. Apart from everything else that goes for any other exam, appearing in the AOR examination also entails handling the pressure of the preparation process, alongside the responsibility of your regular practice. In my case, this entire process was relatively easier because my husband was also appearing for the exam the same year. 

You’ve had an impressive career at Khaitan & Co. Can you share some pivotal moments or cases that shaped your journey and defined your focus in areas like IBC litigation, commercial and civil litigation, and arbitration?

I joined the Delhi Office of Khaitan & Co after completing 3 years at Mr. Srinivasan’s chamber. Thanks to the firm and my seniors, Mr. Diwakar Maheshwari and Mr. Karun Mehta, I have had the chance to work on some extremely challenging and nuanced propositions. I got to contribute to several high-stake IBC disputes almost immediately after joining the team. Over five years of working with the firm have given me the opportunity to interact with and represent a variety of clients. One of the most valuable lessons I have learnt is the importance of understanding the commercial objective behind a litigation and coming up with a solution to achieve the same. 

My expertise in areas of IBC litigation, commercial and civil litigation, and arbitration, essentially came from the work that has come my way during my time at Khaitan and Co. 

Your practice involves a wide array of legal areas, including IBC litigation, commercial and civil litigation, and arbitration. How do you manage to balance such diverse responsibilities, and do you have a favorite among these areas?

Irrespective of the subject matter, the way one approaches a case is largely the same.  Having said that, the procedural law followed in an IBC proceeding, an arbitration and a civil suit is very different. The style and structure of the pleadings differ from fora to fora as well. For example, a plaint/arbitration claim is starkly different from a petition under IBC which is largely as per a prescribed form.  

I work with an extremely competent team of lawyers and support staff from the firm. They make managing the volume and diversity of work much easier. 

I do not have a particular favorite area of work. I enjoy the pressure that the stakes of an IBC proceeding inevitably brings. At the same time, I find the process of initiating a suit/arbitral claim and seeing it through to its logical end extremely fulfilling. The rush of adrenaline that follows a good cross-examination is unmatched. As I have said earlier, I have been fortunate to have been exposed to a gamut of work. I hope that the same continues in the future. 

As someone who has represented clients in insolvency proceedings, could you share an interesting or challenging experience that stands out in your career so far?

IBC as a legislation has been extremely dynamic and fast-paced. There have been numerous cases where amendments to the law have been introduced having completely altered the course of a matter overnight. 

Another great thing about working on a relatively new subject is that you get to test innovative propositions which have not been examined by the Courts before. I have found it extremely satisfying when arguments based solely on the reading of provisions of the IBC have been canvassed by us and accepted by the Court. The chance to contribute to the development of new jurisprudence in this manner has been both – the most challenging and the most fulfilling experience in my career thus far. 

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future, both professionally and personally? Are there specific areas of law or causes that you are passionate about and would like to contribute to in the coming years?

Professionally, I hope to be able to continue doing good work and turn out as a well – rounded and reliable professional for my clients. Having worked on the commercial side for 7 and a half years, I hope to be able to make time for taking up pro-bono assignments in the future and to be able to somehow contribute to society. 

On the personal front, it has always been an endeavor to maintain the right work-life balance and make time to pursue some hobbies outside work. 

Beyond your legal pursuits, do you have any personal interests or hobbies that play a role in maintaining a work-life balance? How do you manage the demands of a challenging legal career while nurturing personal well-being?

I have always enjoyed participating in physical activities such as swimming, running, boxing etc. I believe that taking care of your physical health, in a way, helps you also take care of your mental health. Setting aside, a few hours in the morning before work for exercise helps me decompress and prepare for the day.  

For aspiring lawyers entering the field, given the competitive environment and long working hours what advice would you offer? 

There are no shortcuts in this profession. It is extremely important to keep your head down and continue working hard at every stage of your career. Given that we spend most of our time around people we work with, it is essential to be inclusive and have a good equation with colleagues. Like I mentioned earlier, having a good team around you effectively reduces the stress of the long hours one has to put in.

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