Associates, In-House Counsels & Advocates

Sakshi Raut, Legal Manager, DSK Legal, on her internships, corporate law, and her experience thus far

Sakshi graduated from Symbiosis Law School, Pune in 2010. She joined DSK Legal, Mumbai, right after law school and has been working there for the past seven years. Her primary focus currently is on corporate law which includes corporate transactions, corporate advisory and commercial contracts.

In this interview we speak to her about:

  • Her time at Symbiosis
  • Her internship experience
  • Her role at DSK Legal


How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Independent of my work, on a personal level, I am a person who loves to travel and explore various aspects of a culture.

When did you decide to make a career in the world of law?

I was the first lawyer from my family in the recent generations. Initially my father would always encourage me to pursue Economics. However, post high school, I nearly took up Economics as my graduation subject. While discussing future possibilities with a friend of mine, I stumbled upon the opportunities which law could offer. I liked the knowledge and the opportunities it brought to the table.


How were your years as a student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune?

Coming from a relatively traditional city, Pune was quite liberal, I must say. Symbiosis Law School (SLS) had students who came from various parts of the world and different sections of the society with diverse thoughts. The five years at SLS helped me connect with such people ultimately contributing to my growth as a human being. My father being in a transferable job ensured we kept moving cities while I was growing up and this helped me connect with different people from different walks of life.

During my time at SLS, we did not have many internal assignments like they do today and therefore I had the luxury  to explore a variety of extra-curricular activities as well as carry out assignments outside of college. Having said that, academics and my grades have always been very important to me. Therefore, while I used the extra time to carry out extra-curricular activities which I can elaborate on a little later, I used a lot of my time to explore the city and nearby places. However, I never compromised on my grades. It is very important to strike the right balance between these two.


Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities?

College is where everyone finds his or her interest and mostly it is discovered through the trial and error method. Everyone tends to take part in things not solely because of their inclination or interest but also because they see their counterparts doing the same things and in the process, we find our muse. The same thing happened to me. Initially I engaged in several extra-curricular activities like moots, volunteering for different events including our college fest Symbhav. However, I think what I enjoyed doing most was the work I got to do as a part of the Human Rights Cell of my college. It was a very enlightening experience. During one of my assignments, I had to visit the women at the red-light area of Pune and encourage the use of condoms amongst them. This whole experience exposed me to the harsh realities of life which most of us have been fortunate enough to not be faced with. This is when I realized that it is us who must stand up for people who do not have the means to fight for themselves.


During your formative years as a student, what were your other fields of interest?

As indicated earlier, my father was (actually still is) in a transferable job and hence moving with him regularly I lived in multiple cities at different points in time. Every place was different in its own way, I made new friends and gained varied experiences. This is represented in my love of travel. Travelling can be inspiring and enriching. I also was a swimmer and represented some clubs that I was a part of. Dance and music have always been very close to me since I was in school.


What are your fields of specialization?

Here I must admit that DSK Legal has been kind to me. At DSK Legal, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience a large gamut of work, which has in fact allowed me to realise what my interests are. The best part of having to do a broad range of work is that it helps you decide where your interest lies, what you are good at and what challenges you while also giving you the legal knowledge and practical experience of how things are done. Over the years, I have got more focused on certain areas which have interested me, and accordingly, most of my work today would primarily focus on advising and assisting clients for their investments/acquisitions/mergers (both India and cross-border) across several industry sectors and advising global companies having an Indian presence under corporate and labour laws and commercial contracts. As a lawyer, you are always learning something new every day. This is what drives me on in this profession.

To find out what interests you and what challenges you, you must try out different things. Therefore, it is essential that in the initial years on the job you engage in a variety of work which can ultimately help you to make an informed decision. I know for a fact that doing a due diligence is not something that fascinates everyone, however, the amount of knowledge that one gains in the process is immense.


Could you please tell us about the internship programs you were engaged in?

When I was in law school, Pune did not have much of a presence of law firms as it does now. Hence, the period of your internship was limited to the vacation time which may not be enough considering there is so much to learn. However, I was very particular about one thing which was that I had to experiment with multiple aspects of the legal field. Accordingly, I started my internship with an NGO. After that I interned with a law firm in Bombay which primarily dealt with banking laws. Thereafter, I interned with a Senior Counsel in the Supreme Court, followed by an internship at an IPR firm in Delhi and then DSK Legal, Mumbai. During my first internship at DSK Legal, I got a call back for a second internship. As luck would have it, I was the only intern in the team at the time, and therefore I got some great work both in terms of quality and quantity. I was also fortunate to have very supportive seniors who were there to guide me through every step of the way. At the end of my final year, I was offered the position of an Associate. The idea on internships was that you should try and get a variety of internships so that you can gather different experiences and choose what fields of law really interest you. Practical knowledge on a subject is important when making this decision.


How would you describe the period from being a graduate to starting as a corporate lawyer?

Fortunately, for me, since I had already had two stints of internship at DSK Legal before joining them as an associate, I did not face many challenges in the transition process. Additionally, I joined work only a few days after my final semester exams so the process was very quick for me and before I knew it, I was already on the job doing my first corporate transaction. While I do not believe that it should happen to everyone the way it happened in my case, it is very important for both the lawyer and the firm, that the prospective joinees intern in the field of their choice of law and acquire practical knowledge before they start work as an associate.


How would you describe a day in the office of a Manager at a reputed firm like DSK Legal?

After having spent seven years in the profession, there vests a reasonable amount of responsibility and supervision on my shoulders. However, at DSK Legal, we are encouraged to take on a lot more at this stage. While this role encompasses supervision and review of the work done by your junior colleagues, taking responsibility and ownership of the entire collective assignment, while ensuring an effective execution and implementation of the task assigned is essential. The task need not be matter specific at all times. At this stage, it is also about what it is that you bring to the table which takes you, at a personal level and the firm at a larger level, ahead. Being in the service industry, client acceptability is critical for us. Besides this, you also have the duty to mentor your juniors and participate in client strategy discussions.


Could you share some advice for the interns at DSK Legal?

While it is not fair to expect an intern to know the practical aspects of law, it is expected that they know the basic legal concepts. For any person, willingness to happily learn should be the most important thing under any circumstance. It is one of the most important driving factors which motivates you to enrich yourself. One should also be sincere towards their work, being responsible is an essential attribute for any professional. Also, one must respect the values any organisation is built with.


Do you have any causes which you strongly feel for?

I feel very strongly for two things, people who are less fortunate and people who do not have the means to stand up for themselves. I feel I have been fortunate and it is my duty as a fellow being to help such persons and contribute in bringing change however small it may be.


What do you do when you’re not working?

Like I said before and at the cost of sounding repetitive, I love to travel. A new place, an unfamiliar environment, an unexplored culture brings out a different spark in you. You learn how to handle a situation, how to conduct yourself according to the situation, how to be with people.


Any parting words of wisdom for our readers?

Just work hard, be sincere, always put your best into whatever you do and be open to learning and never give up. And job is a means to an end not an end itself. So, it is equally important to enjoy life, make memories which will last a lifetime. It is okay to have your share of sorrows and failures as for every experience make you the person that you are.



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