Suhasini Rao graduated from University of Pune, India in 2006. She is an attorney with over a decade of diverse, post-qualification experience including chamber practice, corporate consultancy, international academics and the development sector. Areas of academic interest include public law (domestic as well as international), environmental law, developmental and infrastructural issues and public safety such as anti-harassment, anti-corruption and protection from heinous crimes.
At present, she is the Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of CubeRoute Advisory Private Limited.
In this interview she talks to us about:
- Importance of higher studies.
- Cuberoute Advisory Private Limited.
- Services provided by Cuberoute.
- Her publications and importance of those publications.
How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a lawyer but my work is better described as research, application and innovation in law. A large part of what I do involves trying to find easier and effective solutions to everyday problems faced by all sorts of entities while trying to comply with the law.
What inclined you towards legal education?
Environmental matters, especially the co-relation between the environment and crime, is a subject that has interested me for as long as I can recall. I chose to study law and to try and specialize in environmental law, as a result of interactions with environmentalists and naturalists during my school years. Subsequently, while my current area of work and practice is detached from everyday environmentalism, I try to stay in touch with the subject through research and allied projects.
What were your areas of interest while you were in law school? How did you go about developing expertise and knowledge in these areas?
I have a keen interest in Public international law, environmental law and criminal law since law school. From the very first year, I knew I wanted to compete in the Stetson University International Environment Law Moot Court competition, which I did in my third year. Our team went on to win the National Qualifiers and then represented India at the International Rounds. Internships too, played a roll in the learning process. Working with Mr. M.C. Mehta’s office through an internship was a fantastic learning experience. Since I am the first in my family to study law, I chose to intern with as many varied areas of law as I could, in order to better understand my capabilities and limitations and my likes and dislikes. In this process, I was lucky enough to intern in chambers of lawyers practicing at courts of first instance (civil and criminal) as well as appellate courts, and then garner some corporate and consultancy experience as well. The process of elimination is under-rated and it is important to note that unless one experiences a variety of circumstances and career realities, it is usually an incomplete picture on which crucial career choices are made.
Share your experience at University of Torino, Italy.
The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Centre (UNICRI) is one of the only institutes in the world to offer an LL.M. program in International Criminal Law. The degree is offered in conjunction with the University of Torino, Italy. Since I knew this is the subject I wished to study and that this was the only place I could do so, I chose to apply there. There have been many positive changes in the program since my time there but one of the most interesting and enduring qualities of the course is the diversity of students enrolled therein. In a class of 40 students, we had over 20 nationalities and about 15 different academic/ professional backgrounds. To this day, some of my closest friends and colleagues are those that I met at the program.
Also, the program invites internationally acknowledged experts, justices of international courts and practicing attorneys of various international justice fora as faculty. Interaction therefore, is always academically sound and intellectually stimulating.
How important is it for a lawyer to go for higher studies? What motivated you to pursue your LL.M. in International Criminal Law?
A primary degree in law, such as an LLB in India or a JD in the US, is supposed to enable a graduate to practice law. So, unlike medicine or architecture or any other professional qualification, a Master’s Degree such as an LL.M. does not usually aim to enhance legal professional skills,but provides an in-depth perspective in the chosen subject as well as a chance to study a wider scope of application of such topics.
Today, International Criminal Law is of more relevance than ever. It is that body of law that governs crimes committed across borders and across different identities of nationalities, ethnicities, and geographies. Money laundering, terrorist financing, human trafficking, piracy on the high seas, genocide, war crimes and a host of other criminal acts are increasingly prohibited and punished by all nations. This body of law, therefore, is vital to ensuring peace and justice across our world. I have always had an inclination to study investigation, international crime and cross-border matters and this program offered a good combination of the subjects. In fact, my thesis was on the subject of environmental crimes in the context of armed conflict.
What advice would you give to people who are trying to decide which area of law to specialize in?
There are two schools of thought to be considered while investing time, finances and resources in a second degree after a graduation in law. The first one advocates specialization in a subject closely allied to one’s chosen area of practice, if one chooses to work as a lawyer. This has obvious advantages of enabling better career opportunities, especially outside of India and also, a more comprehensive understanding of industry-related subjects. LL.M. in subjects such as project financing, international arbitration, and corporate governance can be categorized as such. On the other hand, if one is passionate about a particular area of law but which is not necessarily one that lends itself to professional practice, one can choose to earn an LL.M. in such a subject. For instance, LL.M. in human rights law, or even international criminal law are subjects that inspire academic study but are not widely practiced in India.
Most importantly, an LL.M. is a degree that requires dedication and focus as it is a choice and not a compulsion. Hence, one should choose to earn this degree only if one is motivated to allocate sufficient time and resources to intensive study.
Tell us something about CubeRoute Advisory Private Limited.
Jaideep Chowdhary and I started CubeRoute over a year ago to focus on creating customized compliance solutions for our clients. Compliance with the law is an aspect that is troublesome for corporate, quasi-government and non-government actors, not because of a lack of willingness but because of a paucity of good training and awareness solutions. Legal professionals provide answers to legal queries but often miss out on accounting for business realities. Similarly, business strategies usually view legal compliance and awareness as an encumbrance. We, at CubeRoute, bridge the gap between these extremes. Our team therefore, comprises of professionals with a background in law, finance, management, marketing and business strategy, training and psychology, amongst others, to develop client-specific solutions.
What are the services provided by the CubeRoute?
Our services enable our clients to achieve efficient and accurate compliance with various legal mandates, in keeping with the letter as well as the spirit of the law. We provide consultancy services, business strategizing in envisaging new business models and revenue streams, content development services, corporate training and awareness workshops. We also work with child-focused entities to enable enhanced child protection mechanisms. Currently we offer services in subjects such as anti-corruption compliance, positive employment practices, child protection mechanisms and anti-competition laws. We also collaborate with various central and state government agencies in capacity building projects.
Tell us about your publications and importance of those publications.
Between 2014 and 2015, the Bangalore Mirror ran a weekly column – Within the Law – to highlight important legal concepts and legislation that affect the public. In this series, I wrote about the right to education, right to maintenance, marriage laws and similar issues. In 2015, I presented a paper on Women and Child Security under new legislation at the Xth Annual Conference, Centre for Public Policy, IIM – Bangalore. The publication explored the theme of bias and implementation difficulties in the anti-sexual harassment law as well as the law on sexual offences against children. Subsequently, I have authored articles for LexWitness, India’s leading magazine dedicated to legal matters, on anti-sexual harassment legislation and juvenile justice laws. I also write regularly for various online entities on subjects such as public infrastructure and property laws, family laws and security measures.
What are your future plans?
Individually, I would like to focus on bettering my understanding of public laws, focusing on food security, public infrastructure and anti-corruption and anti-money laundering. As a team, at CubeRoute we look forward to adding a greater suite of services, both offline and online, to our service menu and enhancing our team’s skills in serving our clients.
What would be your message to our readers?
Never be afraid to experiment. There is much more that can be done with a degree in law than practicing before a court. Make intelligent choices based on accurate information, but do not ignore your gut instinct. Most importantly, teach yourself the skill of how to learn – this is the one and only skill that will bring you survival and success throughout your career.