Meenal Garg- Associate at K.N. Legal, a boutique Arbitration Law Firm, also an ODR Consultant, Member of Young ICCA, SIAC, LCIA and MCIA, a libertarian exploring Arbitration
This interview has been published by Tanmaya Sharma. The Interview was taken by The SuperLawyer Team.
Did you always want to become a Lawyer or was it something that you decided in the later part of your school life? What other career options would you have considered, if not law?
Law was never my first choice. In fact, I was oblivious to the law as a profession and wanted to be an engineer like most of my peers. In my 10th standard, I was inevitably put to choose a career path like any other 14-year-old kid. Though I didn’t have any preference in my mind, I was introduced to the law as a profession by my father. After talking to my friends, neighbours, teachers etc. about the same, I was convinced that law would be the perfect field for me as it could help me fulfil my dream of doing a corporate job while learning something new every day. I believe that had I not been a lawyer, I would probably have been a CA or an MBA executive or maybe even an engineer.
You are quite active on LinkedIn. How important do you think LinkedIn is for professionals? Does that also discourage young struggling minds?
I believe that after COVD, Linkedin has become the foremost place for networking amongst the legal fraternity. According to me, if used properly, anybody can immensely benefit from this platform. At the same time, it cannot be denied that students may feel discouraged after seeing the achievements of their peers or lack of response. However, this cannot be treated as a hurdle and rather this is the necessary motivation required to reap the full benefits of this platform. According to me, continued usage of Linkedin along with posting valuable content can easily boost someone’s career. Networking has never been so simple and accessible in the legal profession before Linkedin.
You also took part in various competitions and have published numerous papers and Articles. How important do you think these are in shaping your understanding of law?
Writing is one of the most rudimentary skills of a lawyer. As a law firm associate or as a junior lawyer, much of a young lawyer’s time is spent drafting briefs, research notes and petitions. Therefore, through writing a lawyer can improve his understanding of the law and how to communicate his thoughts properly. Another underrated advantage of writing is a novelty. Lawyers are required to generate out of the box solutions every day to tackle everyday problems. Writing papers compels a lawyer to think and to bring novelty in his arguments. I believe that all my writing achievements and endeavours have played a major part in shaping my career and helped me reach where I am today.
You have been working on Arbitration cases since the beginning of your career and are now working as an Associate at KN Legal. Why did you choose Arbitration and what scope do you think it has in the future?
I have always considered myself to be a libertarian. Therefore, the consensual basis of arbitration resonated with the libertarian in me. Moreover, as I started exploring arbitration, I just couldn’t think of anything else apart from arbitration as my career path. This is because virtually every commercial contract contains an arbitration clause today. Disputes may be big or small, but today every commercial dispute is adjudicated through arbitration. Moreover, I believe that arbitration is the future of commercial arbitration. Anyone desiring to work in a corporate setup or the commercial litigation sector necessarily needs to know about arbitration. Furthermore, in the context of India, we may see more and more instances of mandatory statutory arbitration. Therefore, the scope of arbitration is limitless.
You also happen to be a member of various International Arbitration Centres. Besides ADR, you are a mediator and ODR Consultant at Sama. Do you think it is time for India to adopt ODR on a larger scale?
ODR has been a subject matter of debate in India for quite some time now. However, it was because of COVID that litigants were compelled to explore ODR as an option. Moreover, in my experience, such litigants have now started to recognize the benefits of ODR. Another factor is that India’s digital infrastructure has considerably improved and therefore, repeat players should consider adopting ODR for at least less complex and repetitive disputes.
Can you walk us through a day in your life? What is the life of an Associate of a boutique law firm like?
To say that a law firm associate’s life is busy would be an understatement. Moreover, with the advent of COVID and the work from home option, the lines between professional and personal life have considerably blurred. However, this comes with a silver lining as it allows me to develop my specialisation at a quicker pace. Moreover, I am involved in every step of arbitration and litigation including pre-litigation strategy, client meetings, drafting and appearing during the hearings etc. Furthermore, the small size of the team helps to ensure effective communication.
You completed your Masters’ dissertation on the topic ‘Promoting Efficiency of Arbitration in India by Using Technology’. Can you tell us a bit about it and how you see promoting Arbitration using Technology in India?
In spite of being a practising lawyer who has seen virtual arbitrations every day, I was surprised to see that there was no information regarding the use of technology in Indian arbitration. There is no awareness regarding the use of technology in arbitration in India. Therefore, I took up this topic to discover the viability of the use of technology in the Indian arbitration landscape. After my interactions with various industry experts (whom I cannot thank enough), I believe that there is a huge scope for use of technology in Indian arbitration especially in small value disputes because of its cost-effectiveness. Moreover, this market seems to be niche and only a handful number of players and users exist which is largely due to COVID. However, through proper endeavours, technology can have long term benefits for India seated arbitrations.
Lastly, is there any suggestion or advice that you’d like to give to our readers?
I always say that ‘it is good to dream big but it is not bad to start small’. Students and young professionals like me should see every opportunity as a learning opportunity. With the advent of COVID, knowledge and opportunities have never been easier to grasp. Contrary to popular beliefs, quality internships can be done right from the comfort of home. Furthermore, as already stated above, writing is the most important skill for a young lawyer. Lastly, reading and engaging in meaningful conversations pertaining to any area of law can be a sure shot way to be a successful lawyer.
Get in touch with: