Somrita Ray graduated with a BBA.LL.B.(Hons) degree from KIIT Law School in 2014. As a student she has been quite active and participated in many parliamentary debates, moot court competitions, MUNs and conferences. She also has an excellent series of internships including UU&AP, Samvad Partners, Tata Motors and Fox Mandal. She also has multiple publications to her name. By the time she graduated, she had received a job offer from ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd. and is currently working there.
In this interview she shares with us:
- Importance of co-curricular activities and internships
- Extensive experience in Research papers
- Recruitment and work at ICICI Lombard
Our readers consist of law aspirants, law students and young lawyers. How will you introduce yourself to them?
Hi, it’s indeed a pleasure for me to introduce myself to everyone on this forum. I’m a 2014 law graduate from School of Law, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. I am from Calcutta and was born and brought up there. Presently, I am based out of Mumbai and work for ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd. as an in-house legal professional.
Tell us about your pre-college life? When did you decide to take up law as a career? Did you have lawyers in family?
I did my schooling from Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Calcutta. By the end of my 10th Standard, I was more or less convinced that pure mathematics and science were not meant for me. I took up Commerce after 10th. However, I did not want to pursue CA or CS. Instead, I wanted to pursue something that would challenge my ability to reason but at the same time would allow me to be creative and flexible. Thus, law appeared to me as the best possible career option.
I come from a family of Chartered Accountants and Engineers. I am a first generation lawyer.
What motivated you to choose law as a career? How did you get through to School of Law, KIIT University?
The sole motivation to choose law was my innate conviction and the hallmark of prestige attached to the legal profession. A career in the legal profession is both intellectually challenging and personally fulfilling. Besides, no other subject allows you so much dynamism, creativity and flexibility. My admission to the five year Integrated B.B.A LLB (Hons.) program happened post clearing the common all India entrance test organized by KIIT University (KLSAT) in the year 2009.
As a law student which activities did you participate in? Did you have any guidance on how to go about your academics and co-curricular activities?
Besides participating in parliamentary debates, I represented the University as a speaker in few all India moot court competitions. I also participated in various workshops, seminars and conferences. Balancing both academics and co-curricular activities at the same time was pretty challenging. However I was lucky to get significant guidance and support from the faculty members and my seniors who happily extended their helping hand at the time of need.
Our readers would be quite curious to know how you went about securing your internships. Please share your internship experiences.
(Somrita has interned with Udwadia Udeshi & Argus Partners, Samvad Partners (formerly Narasappa, Doraswamy & Raja), Tata Motors Limited, Fox Mandal Associates, Tata Motors Finance Limited, PUCL.)
To be honest, besides making timely personal applications, I always remained active on LinkedIn which helped me securing internships at firms like Udwadia Udeshi & Argus Partners and Samvad Partners. LinkedIn is an excellent forum for professional networking and if explored and utilized wisely, it can work wonders. Besides this, I believe a well drafted and tailored CV plays a significant role in fetching an internship. Further, getting an internship through personal application requires one to prepare a well drafted cover letter and vigilant follow up.
My internship experience with corporate houses and with a law firm was different from one another. During my law firm internships, I was mostly allotted research work relating to company law, securities law, banking law and labour law. Besides, preparing case law dossiers, I had been involved in due diligence exercises being undertaken at these firms and preparing memos on various legal issues. Internships with a Corporate like Tata Motors provided me with a better understanding of the company’s operational aspects. It gave me an insight to the specific legal issues peculiar to the Company and the industry/sector to which it belongs and learning to mitigate the same keeping in mind the need of sector regulator, community and other relevant stakeholders.
How relevant did you find your law school education with the kind of work you were required to do at law firms?
I believe what we study at law school more or less forms the basis of the kind of the work that we are expected to do at law firms. However, the practical scenarios that we face at internships are far different from the theoretical situations taught to us at law school. At internships, we are required to look into practical application and interpretation of laws besides the theoretical basis of the same. While at law school we learn the theoretical aspects of law, at internships we inculcate the legal-analytical approach and hence enrich ourselves with the practical application of law. Moreover, internships immensely contribute towards developing a pragmatic approach of a “professional” which alone law school education might not guarantee.
You have had published papers in various prestigious journals. Can you give us a few tips to ace the art of paper writing?
The best and the easiest way would be to work sincerely on the projects that one submits as a part of the curriculum or internships. Two of my publications are a result of the topics that were allotted to me during my internships to research on. A well written project can be easily converted into a paper by adding the desired amount of research and structure as per requirement. This can be a good start for the students who have not yet ventured in the field of writing. For those who have already tried and tested their writing skills, they may identify topics of their interest having legal relevance and then pursuing or taking the same to its logical end.
Some handy tips for writing a paper:
- Having a thorough understanding of the topic coupled up with proper research
- Customizing and structuring the flow of the paper
- Working on areas like grammar formatting and spelling
- Writing and editing through several drafts to perfect the final piece
How has your mooting experience been?
It has been a great learning experience! It helped me think like a lawyer (smiles). I thoroughly enjoyed putting those extra hours and spending those sleepless nights cracking the moot problems and preparing memorials. Mooting tested me on a number of skills like researching, drafting, arguing and keeping my cool under pressure. I would not be able to put in words all that I gained from this experience but among other things it taught me how to work with a team with differing expectations, and unequal levels of execution and opposite countenances.
You have been a member of multiple committees while in law school. Do you think these enhanced your skill-sets? Please share a few of your memorable experience.
Definitely it did! Being an active participant in these committees not only helped me to develop an all-round personality and improve my interpersonal skills but also helped me refresh my burdened mind. Talking about few memorable experiences, I thoroughly enjoyed myself planning, structuring, and executing events as a part of the events committee during my law school fest. Besides having fun, I also learnt the importance of team work and the art of management. I was also part of the training and placement committee of my law school and the entire process was immensely rewarding in terms of the quality of interaction, sharing of ideas, discussion on strategies, etc that I had with the prospective recruiters.
Soon after graduation, you joined ICICI Lombard as a Legal Manager. How did you go about bagging this job?
I managed securing a job with ICICI Lombard through the campus placement exercise in December 2013. I believe three simple things worked for me in securing the job…
- Knowing the basics well
- Confidence and composure
- Being sincere in what I was trying to convey
Please tell us about the recruitment process at ICICI Lombard?
The recruitment process at ICICI Lombard was quite well structured. In my case, we had a campus recruitment exercise wherein six candidates were shortlisted for the final interview. Based on the interview, the final selection was made.
How was the job interview? Do you remember any of the questions asked to you? Please give our readers some tips to nail an interview.
The interview was smooth. As a part of the HR round, I was asked about myself, my strengths and weaknesses and what I knew about the Company. In the technical round, majority of the questions that were asked to me were based on my CV. However, I was also asked certain general questions from the Procedural Laws, Indian Contract Act, IPC, Negotiable Instruments Act, and Arbitration & Conciliation Act.
Answering your last question, I suggest all job aspirants out there to take time to prepare for an interview. It should not be kept aside for the last day. Next, one should be absolutely through with every single detail mentioned in their CVs to avoid being caught off guard. Lastly, having a well defined, yet simple career narrative in mind is a must, the rest usually follows.
How tough were the first six months at your workplace?
Honestly speaking, I was lucky enough to have a very welcoming and a warm team. It did not take me much time to get comfortable as ICICI Lombard has a very positive, supportive and friendly work environment. A year back when I had joined this organization, I had few of my college seniors still working in here. Thus, with them around and with a helpful and well-informed team, things weren’t difficult at all. Right from the start my manager motivated me to deliver my best and he helped me immensely to get better on the job. That’s how within the first 2-3 months I was already in the thick of things.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities? What is the most challenging aspect of your job? How is the experience so far?
My day-to-day responsibilities involves assisting the team in monitoring and ensuring compliance by various internal departments as per the compliance program on an ongoing basis; conducting compliance audits and compliance reviews; ensuring regulatory filings within deadlines; providing opinions and clarifications to business divisions on queries pertaining to Anti Money Laundering and other IRDAI mandates; circulating RBI and IRDAI circulars/guidelines/discussion papers/exposure drafts to respective business groups, participating in setting up of new processes/amending existing processes and reviewing business practices in the light of changes in regulations or instructions from IRDAI and vetting Telemarketing scripts, Proposal Forms, Renewal Forms/letters and other form of solicitations by the Company to the customers, clients, intermediaries etc. However, this is a very general version of my routine here, since not every day is same – each day brings new challenges and exciting opportunities to my desk.
In my view, the most challenging aspect of my job is time management and handling multiple assignments and audits simultaneously without compromising on the quality of delivery.
By far it has been a great experience. I have learnt what is expected out of a “manager”! (Smiles).
Are there new challenges everyday or has work settled into a predictable pattern?
Work at ICICI Lombard is never short of excitement as the challenges keep on changing on a regular basis as each day the nature of issues dealt with and work undertaken are different and hence I would say there is absolutely no scope of feeling stagnant. As to challenges, every day is welcomed by a new challenge!
What are the primary professional ethics you follow while at work? What has been your strategy to deal with errors and mistakes?
As a primary professional ethic I ensure to have good working relationship with my colleagues as it helps to maintain healthy working environment. Mistakes and errors are part and parcel of life. It is important to own up to your mistakes, learn from them and to ensure that they are not repeated in the future.
How do you manage the workload and your personal life?
While I do enjoy the thrill of leading a fast paced life in Mumbai, I admit that it does get taxing at times. Moreover, in a huge organization, the working protocol which involves multiple layers of review often makes the entire process tedious and time consuming and hence, late hours. So, whenever there is time for a breather between my work, I usually cut-off and have a small conversation over a cup of tea/coffee with my colleagues. Apart from that I unwind by watching movies and listening to music. I am also a big foodie and I try venturing out as often as possible to various eateries and restaurants all across Mumbai. Occasionally, I attend social gatherings and find myself enjoying meeting and networking with people from diverse backgrounds.
How do you keep yourself abreast with latest industry news and trends?
I do so by perusing through standard industry journals and following relevant blogs and web portals. Social media today is so strong that it is not at all difficult to reach the nook and corners of latest industry news.
Does ICICI Lombard take interns? Please tell us about the procedure of same?
Yes, ICICI Lombard does take interns. Interested candidates can get in touch with the HR for the same.
What would be the one misconception you’d say you’d always held about real life legal work till the time you were an intern but changed once you started working as a lawyer?
Two major changes: Sense of responsibility and taking the onus of the work I put forth and team work. Whilst doing my internship I was assigned with limited responsibilities which changed drastically once I started working. Now I am responsible for the work I do whether working with my team or working independently, leaving no scope for errors. I also learnt the importance of team work and that a working as a team helps to deliver any assignment efficiently and accurately.
If you could re-live your five years in Law school, is there something you would do differently?
Looking back, I believe that I have always been very headstrong and that I am where I am today because of the choices and decisions that I have made so far. Having said that, I wouldn’t really want to turn back the clock and change a single thing.
So what’s next for you?
Well, to be honest, I’ve just started and I a long winding road to travel. I want to simply go with the flow! (Smiles)