Paushali De Roy graduated from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad in 2011 and joined Ernst & Young (EY), Hyderabad as a campus hire. She has worked as a Consultant for their Indirect Tax practice. She later moved back to Kolkata and there she joined a legal process outsourcing start up – Strategic Business Alliance, as an associate. Paushali is currently located in Amsterdam, Netherlands where her organisation is intending to expand their business. Apart from law, she takes an active interest in creative and literary writing. She is a blogger and a published author.
In this interview we speak to her about:
- Her time in NALSAR
- Her writing experience
- Working at a startup
Tell us about your time at NALSAR.
I graduated from NALSAR in 2011 and I had my fair share of fun and frolic during the five years that I spent there. NALSAR was a melting pot of cultures, opinions and world views. I had the opportunity to interact with some of the best minds in the legal fraternity at NALSAR and that too at a very young age. Being a student of such a prestigious academic institution unquestionably gives you an advantage over your peers in the initial stage, but you also must justify the presence of such a brand name on your resume with your hard work.
In my opinion, what matters in the long run is your dedication and expertise over your chosen area of work. I have worked with several brilliant people who are not from any national law university (NLU) and that has not been a hindrance towards their growth.
What kind of internships did you undertake during your student years?
I interned with NGOs, the State Human Rights Commission, advocates and individual practitioners, corporate legal departments and law firms during my student years. I enjoyed most of my internships and took them as an opportunity to learn even if it was about working on small odd jobs. They taught me how things worked out in the real world.
Is it absolutely necessary to moot or undertake paper publications in order to be a successful advocate?
I believe that every law student should have the freedom to chart out their own law school experience and things cannot be termed “necessary” or alike to be successful. One of the obligatory parts about the NLU culture was that one had to try out their luck in moot court activities but I did not enjoy the experience. I was more interested in legal research and related activities. I liked working on my semester projects and converted a few of them in research papers. They were published in reputed law journals like the Labour Law Journal and official University publications.
Give us some insight into your blog and your work which you regularly publish there.
I was always interested in creative writing and participated in various writing competitions and workshops during my school and college days. I started my blog when the concept of ‘blogging’ was at a very nascent stage in India. My blog is called – “The Big Bong Theory” and I write about everything – daily mundane chores, literary fiction or travel stories, in there. I write primarily in English but also in my mother tongue – Bengali.
The blog’s Facebook page is also quite popular among my readers. Though I do not get to write often nowadays due to a very busy schedule, it is my window to the world ‘beyond law’. Apart from that, my blog has also given me the platform to be featured along with other famous bloggers and authors in various newspaper and media reports.
My literary articles and stories have been published in several magazines and newspapers. In 2015, I also became a contributing author for an anthology of stories selected through a nationwide writing competition.
Tell us about your experience with Ernst & Young.
My stint with Ernst & Young (EY) will always remain special as it was my first job. I was selected through the campus recruitment process during my final year at college. I joined the EY, Hyderabad office as a Consultant for their Indirect Tax practice. My work primarily revolved around appearing for Indirect Tax hearings and drafting advices and memorandums for clients. I worked closely with a team of Chartered Accountants and it also involved a lot of number crunching. It was also a client facing job and I learnt my first essentials of client communication at EY.
What motivated you to make the transition from a reputed establishment such as EY to a start up in Kolkata?
As much as I loved the work environment at EY, I was gradually getting wary of being labelled only as an Indirect Tax practitioner. I wished to explore new things and the start up boom had just begun in India. I was taking a risk and it involved a lot of brainstorming since I was relocating back to Kolkata, which by popular perception, was not the perfect place for start ups. It also involved work in the Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) or legal services sector, which was still then not considered to be the exact white collar job that a NLU graduate ventured into. But due to some personal reasons, coupled with an urge to do something in my own city and the promise of rapid growth in a very young work environment, I took the plunge.
I must say my belief paid off and from a merely eight to ten members team when I joined in Strategic Business Alliance (SBA) India has not only grown in the number of head count or clients, we have also recently moved into a large and plush new office in Kolkata.
Tell us more about the nature of work at an LLP, especially Strategic Business Alliance.
SBA is a fully functioning Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) firm and apart from our vibrant LPO division there are other divisions like Accounting and Legal Transcription. All the teams work in close proximity with each other and often there is a requirement of coordination between the teams as there is an overlap of scope of work.
In the legal division, there are different sub teams working on different projects some of which require specific tool based knowledge or due diligence skill.
I lead the legal drafting and research team and we often work on projects which require an application of mind along with balancing tight deadlines. On any given day, you may be drafting entire memos or reviewing multiple contracts and leases to prepare advices for clients while with using various research tools.
What is the position you currently occupy at Strategic Business Alliance?
I am presently working as a Senior Consultant with SBA and I am stationed in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In addition to my regular work responsibilities, I am presently getting involved in a lot of business development work as we are trying to set up a new office in Europe.
My regular work day is a mix of daily calls and meetings with my core team members discussing work scenario. There are trainings and client calls also to be attended while keeping in mind the time zone differences. I am involved in a lot of client communication along with day to day hands on work which often needs to be completed on a strict deadline.
What is the common misconception that keeps law students from taking up placements with LPOs?
I believe there is no ‘perfect’ or tailor made fit for anybody in any profession or industry. Each one of us need to find what is the ‘better’ option for oneself by exploring all avenues. For me, the option of working at a start up worked out, but there was also risk of it not working out too.
In regard to the misconception about working in LPOs, I have encountered junior team members coming in and thinking that we work only on tool based projects or ones where application of mind is nil. It is not necessarily so. From my experience, I can say that SBA has a very vibrant multi domain work culture where as a lawyer, your intelligence, coordination and time management is put to test, every day.
Do you offer internships at Strategic Business Alliance, and how does one go about securing internships at LPOs?
Yes, we offer internships at SBA. We have a simple application process whereby you can apply to the HR by emailing at – firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have recently started offering permanent positions to interns who are in final year or just out of college, if we are happy with their performance during the internship period.
What are the qualities sought after by LPOs in their prospective employees?
I cannot speak about LPOs in general, but at SBA we look forward to recruit prospective employees who come in with an open, alert mind, are eager to learn and work in a team and have integrity.
What other message would you like to put across to our readers?
If you are a law student, do not run after that ‘perfect job’, as there is none. Explore opportunities, weigh in your personal choices and see for yourself what suits you the best. When you are working too, take breaks, travel often and do not ignore your family or personal commitments for professional ones. In my opinion, finding the right balance between the personal and professional, is supremely important.