Roumita Dey graduated from Jogesh Chandra Chodhuri Law College (under the aegis of Calcutta University), Kolkata in 2015. At present, she is practicing corporate law at Agama Law Associates and represents clients on behalf of the firm on a daily basis.
She drafts legal notices, legal responses, the case for opinion, Service Provider Agreement, Leave and License Agreement, IT contracts, Response/Counter-claim, etc. and is doing research work in all areas of law using Manupatra, SCC Online, Think Legal, Indian Kanoon, etc. research engines.
She also writes articles on various areas of corporate law on a monthly basis for the firm’s blog and contributes legal updates/day-to-day legal developments in the industry in the update session
In this interview she talks to us about:
- Her experiences during the internships.
- Primary essentials of a good corporate lawyer.
- The kind of interest one needs to pursue law.
- Current scenario of studying corporate law as a career option in India.
What brought you into studying law as your profession?
I am a first generation lawyer in my family. I have chosen Humanities in my Class XII board exams and successfully passed with higher grades. Law was never in my mind that time. I was more inclined to do a simple graduation course and decided to pursue MBA later in my future. My father is a business person, and we have a family lawyer cum family friend who advises my father with regards to property related matters and also his business. My parents visited the district court in Kolkata for the purpose of property registration a couple of times and gradually influenced by seeing the lawyers advising their clients and arguing inside the courtroom. As a result, they encouraged me to take up law seriously, and I believe that my parents have seen that spark in my eyes that I was born to become a lawyer. However, I sat for the LL. B joint entrance examination of Calcutta University and have secured good rank and enrolled at Jogesh Chandra Choudhuri Law College, under the aegis of Calcutta University. To be very frank, I chose law pretty accidentally. It was more like law have chosen me and brought me into this profession. However, after enrolling myself in the B.A.LL.B course, I have started achieving good marks in the subjects and interned in big firms one after another and today I am a qualified lawyer practicing corporate law.
Any remarkable experiences during your internships that shaped your career choices later?
Yes, indeed the experience of working with different law firms helped me to take the proper decision of which law to specialize to flourish in my profession or I may say internship experiences shaped my career choices later on. I have done two litigation internships, where I was mostly allotted work relating to assisting senior advocate to draft affidavits, rejoinder, legal notices and to accompany senior associates to the court. Apart from these two litigation internships, I have also interned under a senior advocate of the district and sessions court (Kolkata) to gain knowledge of how the district court works, or I may say to witness the life of a litigant. However, frankly, I have not explored much during my internship days. However, after doing litigation internships, I have applied for internships in Tier – I firms in India like Trilegal, Amarchand & Mangaldas, a mid-sized law firm like Argus Partners, where I may get the flavor of corporate law. In light thereof, I have successfully interned in the aforementioned law firms and was mostly allotted research work relating to company law, securities and banking law, property law, electricity law and basic drafting work. I was also involved in the due diligence of QIP (‘’Qualified Institutional Placement’’)/due diligence of the private placement of a public company being undertaken under the supervision of the capital markets team of Amarchand & Mangaldas (Delhi Office). It was an excellent opportunity to learn and to get the chance to work with the seniors of one of the elite law firm in India. Trilegal also was another enriching experience to learn how to take the advantage of research engines and how to conduct research on case laws. These internships made me realize that corporate law is the field to explore, and there is a lot for me to learn in this field. Hence, I wanted to join a corporate law firm after graduation to be able to realize my potentiality in this field.
What do you think is the kind of interest or aptitude one needs to pursue law?
I am giving a quick snapshot of the abilities and skills/values; one should possess to become a lawyer or those who needs to pursue law in future. I believe the following list of core skills and values would suffice for every budding lawyer:
- Inquisitive: A good law student or an aspiring lawyer shall possess an inquisitive nature. Curiosity drives a person to probe and ask revealing questions. The inquisitive attorney will peel back the layers of a case, going deeper, asking for more information. This skill is necessary because it is often the small, unnoticed details that can make or break a case. A good lawyer asks questions because they are not satisfied with accepting surface information. They know there may be more facts underneath the evidence presented. Their inquisitive nature will push them to uncover that information.
- Problem Solving Abilities: Being a problem solver is one of the root skills of any attorney. People hire lawyers because they either have a problem or are trying to avoid one. Possessing excellent problem-solving skills allow the lawyer to find solutions even when none are immediately apparent.
- Symptomatic Reading: Attorneys will have to read a great deal of material when they take on a client. It may be court documents, witness testimony, contracts, case law, or a myriad of other text. It is easy for anyone to skim over the information and take it at face value. Unfortunately, this can prove detrimental to a client. Moreover, law students or whoever would like to pursue law have to make a habit of reading much stuff.
- Writing Skill: Having the ability to write well lays a solid foundation for all the documents a lawyer must write such as arguments, contracts, and legal letters. Written communication is a primary way that information is distributed and recorded.
- Conversation/ Articulation Abilities– Just as writing skills are essential, so too are verbal skills. An attorney will find it necessary to shift gears in their verbal communication style. One day they may need to speak in an authoritative manner with persuasive speech during an important trial. The next day a lawyer may need to meet with a grieving widow requiring sympathetic conversation in reassuring tones. Conversation skills are more than just the ability to say the right words. The words also need to be expressed in a proper manner.
- General Investigation/Research Skills: Law students and attorneys have to spend hours investigating and researching information for clients. Attorneys must be able to know how to perform research with speed and accuracy, and confidence in the authority of the source. If they do not know where to look for the right kind of information; their research may be flawed and inaccurate. If an attorney cannot investigate quickly, they may get bogged down and unnecessarily waste much time.
- Organization / Management Skills: The attorney will also need to possess excellent time management skills. They will need to stay aware of deadlines, meeting schedules, court dates, and travel itinerary. Even simple cases will require some level of calendared items. Most attorneys will have to balance several of cases at once. This requires a high degree of time management and organizational skills
What are the primary essentials of a good corporate lawyer? How do you say a fresh graduate can work on building these skills?
In a nutshell, the primary essentials of a good corporate lawyer are as follows:
- Collaboration skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Financial literacy
- Project management
- Technological affinity
- Time management, and,
- Hard working.
A fresh law graduate should work rough day to earn these skills mentioned above along with lots of patience and effort.
How can one learn to draft a legal notice?
To draft a legal notice one should be aware of the relevant provisions of the Companies Act, 2013. If the notice is regarding asking information from the Company as a shareholder, i.e., ‘’Requisition Notice’’, then one should refer the provisions of Companies Act concerning inspection of books of accounts, register of members, financial statements, etc. If the notice is regarding mismanagement of the company, one should refer the relevant provisions of the Companies Act concerning oppression and mismanagement and should be aware of the Term Sheet of such company. If the notice is regarding employee dispute, one should be aware of the clauses of the employment agreement. Additionally, to draft a legal notice related to company disputes one should refer AOA & MOA of the Company along with the correspondences shared between the persons concerned.
How can one legally update himself?
One should spend time every day at least for half an hour to go through the websites like PRS Legislative, SEBI, RBI, MCA, CCI, IIPRD, etc. to update himself legally.
Corporate Law sometimes comes with a humongous workload. What made you gravitate towards this field? How do you manage the workload and your personal life?
To be very frank, for a fresher like me, personal life became a secondary or the least thing to bother at the moment. My priority is work and to learn stuff as much as I can to grow in this field. I work beyond my job hours and even in weekdays to finish my stuff. I never regret not attending my cousin’s wedding or other family events because of my engagement with my work. Corporate law is indeed very stressful for a fresher to pick up the work and learn from the senior associate or a partner in any organization. Frankly, I do not know how to balance work life and personal life together. I am not the perfect person to give advice on how to manage the workload and your personal life. However, one should take a break and refresh himself/herself whenever he/she can.
What should a student do so that he gets placed in a reputed firm?
- A law student should have good CV with a handful of good internships, paper publications, and other extra-curricular activities to get selected for the interview at any reputed law firm.
- After getting selected for an interview, a law student, whoever apply to reputed law firms, should crack the interview at first go.
- I think, after cracking the interview in one go, half of the battle is won by him/her to get placed in a prominent law firm.
Did you find that your law school education had prepared you sufficiently for the many tasks you were required to execute during your internships and later at your job?
To be very frank and honest, I have studied in a traditional law school and hence, it did not prepare me for the tasks which I am required to do in the course of my employment with a law firm. Internships have given me the overview of how the law firm works and what kind of work an associate should do while working with a law firm after the graduation. I have simply learned from the scratch with respect to drafting and how to do an exhaustive research, from my partner of the law firm, where I presently work as an Associate. My partner teaches me every day from writing an email to the client to draft any document and what the exact format should be for drafting. She also taught me how to keep track of the clients’ mandates and how to keep myself legally updated to survive in this rat race of lawyers, and that is how I grow as a lawyer. I think most of the fresher like me, whoever studied in any traditional law school learn everything from the scratch in the workplace where they join after their graduation.