Subhash Bhutoria graduated from National Law University, Jodhpur in 2009. He started his legal career with Lall and Sethi as an Associate. Later he switced to IPR Litigation and Enforcement team of Lakshmi Kumaran & Sridharan Attorneys where he worked as a Senior Associate. After three and half years of work at LKS, he got an offer from Lall and Sethi to rejoin as a Senior Associate which he could not refuse. Currently, he works as a Senior Associate in the litigation team of Lall and Sethi.
We asked him to share his experiences and strategies he used over the years. In this interview, he talks about:
- Law school experience at NLUJ
- Work experience at LKS and Lall & Sethi
- How to prepare for an interview with an IPR Law firm
How would you introduce yourself? Could you please share a little bit of what motivated you to pursue law as a career?
I am a practicing lawyer, specializing in IPR laws related to litigation and advising. Law was not the first choice as I was preparing for medicals, but the gradual understanding of the subject and experience at NLU, motivated me to pursue this field.
How would you describe your time at National Law University, Jodhpur? Did you take part in extracurricular activities?
I owe immensely to NLU, Jodhpur for turning a novice into the lawyer I am today. The elaborate course was well designed and made the legal learning quite an experience. The overwhelming assignments, projects along with compulsory internships, skilled me with able research abilities, which I honestly believe, gave me an edge in the profession. To work under pressure, stick to basics and being involved in every good, bad or ugly task, were the key learning for me at NLU.
Extra and Co-Curricular activities were integral part of the NLU experience and indeed I was part of quite a few of them. I was also a part of the cultural committee and could get a better view of what goes behind in organizing and managing such activities at University level. Among other things, we also formed a music group called Alfaaz during law school.
In addition to adding ‘Hues’ to largely an academically oriented university and student mass, these activities are instrumental in interpersonal interactions and team building. Personally, these activities helped me boost my confidence and maintain calm in adversity, which is of immense help to me as a legal practitioner. In my view, these activities are vital for a comprehensive learning and hence be encouraged both by the universities and the students.
How was your first year after graduation? Do law schools in India prepare their students for their professional life? What would you suggest to a fresh law graduate?
Since campus placements did not do any wonders, I was interning with Lall and Sethi Advocates and was retained by the firm thereafter. It took a while to understand the KRAs as an associate, but having being well trained by NLU, I had no apprehension, whatsoever and hence I could learn more and earn well. Honestly, one cannot foresee the outcome and hence every task is an opportunity. It is always to be borne in mind that nothing goes unnoticeable, which is my advice to the fresh law grads.
Right after graduation, you started working with Lall and Sethi as an Associate. How did you appointment take place? How would you describe you working experience there?
Having no job in hand at the brink of the last semester, I was also running helter skelter and was offered a job at an LPO in Pune. In the meantime, my internship with L&S was confirmed and took the risk of letting go the offer at hand for the internship. I was extensively working with the IP enforcement team and it was yet another task and my contribution to the same, which came to the senior’s notice and I was offered an appointment.
I started with the trademark prosecution team and learned the basics and intricacies of filing and procedure. I later shifted to the litigation and enforcement team and had probably the best time on field, assisting and coordinating with my able colleagues. Having said so, I believe L&S offered me what could not have been expected from any top-tier firm at that instance.
How difficult were the first few months of Lall and Sethi given that it focuses mainly on a specific field of law?
With an honours in IPR laws, understanding the laws was not at all difficult and working with learned seniors at L&S, I could understand the practice and procedures well. In particular, the volume of work and clientele, considerably improved my drafting and response time.
You have specialized in IPR. What made you interested in the same?
My inclination was always towards sciences and could relate the same more with IPR laws. The fascination with IPR grew further while dealing with well known brands and works at L&S.
Thereafter you joined IPR Litigation and Enforcement team of Lakshmi Kumaran & Sridharan Attorneys as a Senior Associate. What had contributed towards this appointment? How did that go?
LKS was a quick decision to explore new possibilities and work. I got to work primarily on both criminal and civil copyright litigation, involving extensive traveling and appearance in various courts and tribunals across India. Undoubtedly, it was a wonderful time working with LKS.
Have you ever considered litigation or starting up on your own? Would you say the opportunity a firm provides for a young lawyer is worth the trade off in building a reputation?
I have not considered establishing my own practice as my work profile and association with L&S offers me the same satisfaction. I beg to differ with the trade off comment as a budding lawyer, one should always consider value addition than reputation. In my opinion, smaller firms provide with immense opportunities and in turn you get recognized in the organization and otherwise.
You rejoined Lall and Sethi as a Senior Associate. How did this opportunity come back to you?
Let’s just say, I was made an offer to rejoin L&S, which I could not refuse.
What is a normal workday like at Lall and Sethi? Being a Senior Associate, what are your responsibilities?
Litigation team does not have the comfort of workday and times. For me it starts at about 9ish in the morning and depending upon the work, varies from 11-13 hours each day. I, along with my able colleagues, are responsible for taking care of courts, counterfeit actions and related advisory works.
How did you build up your command in IPR? What are the primary essentials of an IPR lawyer? How do you say a fresh graduate can work on building these skills?
As I always suggest to interns and junior colleagues, reading is the key to excel in any law, let alone IPR. Since IPR laws are largely uniform across the world and Indian jurisprudence has not developed much as yet, the Indian Courts not only refer to, but also rely upon the international precedents. I would advise fresh grads to keep themselves informed and updated about such developments.
What is the procedure to apply for an internship and recruitment at Lall and Sethi? What are the qualities which they look for in one and his/her CV?
Students can apply for internship or recruitment through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Job is subjective and largely depends upon the requirement at the firm. Although many associates are hired and offered job on the basis of their internships, including me, it is not the primary criteria for hiring at L&S. In addition to being adequately qualified, it is always an advantage if the candidate has prior experience in IPR laws and law firms. Being a paper-less office, good knowledge of computers and operating system is a must.
What would you suggest to someone who is preparing to work with an IPR law firm? What are the basic subjects (apart from IPR subjects) which one should read and have understanding of before sitting for an interview?
One must be well acquainted with consumer and contract laws, civil and criminal procedures. IPR practice substantially involves application of doctrines and tests laid down by both Indian and international Courts and hence the candidate must be aware of established precedents and doctrines.
Please give our readers a few tips in order to land a job in IPR firm.
IPR firms offer great opportunities and a rewarding career. Interestingly, IPR practice is not limited to consideration of case specific facts and interpretation of the law, but also entails extensive search and research for historical facts and information, scientific discoveries, international and trans-border data and precedents etc. Therefore, the candidates must have an across the board outlook.
What would be your parting message to our readers?
Law is a highly rewarding field and all it requires is good understanding of the subject and respect for the due process, that is what a super lawyer is.