“The most important aspects and invariably a bitter truth of the independent legal practice and specializing in the legal matters for one should be making a sound connection and developing new client networks through resources”- Sandeep Raj Roy, Zonal Legal Head- North, Allcargo Gati Limited

This Interview has been published by Pragya Chandni and The SuperLawyer Team

Can you walk us through your career journey from starting as a junior advocate to your current role as Zonal Head – Legal (North) at Allcargo Gati Limited? How did you transition from criminal practice to corporate law?

Well, it has been a splendid journey throughout the career since its inception with lots of hiccups and challenges which I overcame. I started visiting the district level courts of West Bengal adjoining the Kolkata district. I had always a dream to pursue my career as a pleading Counsel, which every budding lawyer dreams. I developed the knack of practicing criminal law and am fortunate to get the opportunity to learn about the broad aspects of criminal jurisprudence under the guidance of the one of the eminent criminal lawyer of West Bengal and other states of eastern region, Mr. Tamal Kanti Mukherjee, Advocate of Alipore Judges Court, Kolkata and developed the skills of filing of police complaint thereafter conversion of the same to FIR, summoning, framing of charges till trail stage.  During the initial days after the bar enrollment, you are hardly able to foresee the career path in this vast legal domain, wherein you get inadequate information from friends, colleagues including pressure from the family members to establish yourself .  Predominantly appropriate legal connections are the main keys that every first-generation lawyer lacks, which I personally felt. 

In order to get the flavor of the civil jurisprudence and in this vast universe of civil law(s) including but not limited to Laws of Constitution and Code of Civil Procedure 1908 & other law(s), I got the opportunity to work with one of the leading Law & Solicitor’s Firm of Kolkata viz. Sandersons And Morgans, as a Junior Advocate. I have appeared in different courts like Ld. District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Hon’ble State Consumer Forum, Ld. City Civil Court, Ld. District Court, other Tribunal(s) and Hon’ble Calcutta High Court Original and Appellate side jurisdiction etc. 

In addition to the proficient domain knowledge and skills, one of the most important aspects and invariably a bitter truth of the independent legal practice and specializing in the legal matters for one should be making a sound connection and developing new client networks through resources. Whilst during those struggling days of building my own brand of a recognized lawyer through the process of continuous learning, I got a call from the HR department of the most trusted footwear retailer brand Khadim’s and that really made my day and I got selected for the position of Senior Executive – Legal on the very first day of my interview. Now, I can gracefully state that I was the first ever candidate those days from my college batch being selected for the job opportunity in the corporate legal department.

It is apposite to mention that I got immense support and guidance from my college mate cum best friend, a competent lawyer specialized in constitutional bench matters of Hon’ble Calcutta High Court Ms. Mimi Mondal, BA.LLB turned to be my better half and mother of my only child Master Smayan Roy.

What were your key responsibilities and accomplishments during your tenure at Khadim India Limited and Ambuja Group ? Could you share some insights into the projects you handled and the challenges you encountered?

The first corporate job in Khadim’s really worked like a “bolt from the blue” and I got the exposure to understand the framework of the corporate legal department, learned corporate ethics, drafting of in-house company policies, labour related compliances, corporate litigation, retail acquisition, land matters along with company secretary and related affairs.

I was always best known for delivering smart results within a highly competitive environment by analyzing the situation/ complexities from broad legal perspective and suggesting practical action plans.

During my days of employment with Ambuja Group, a group renowned for its City Centre Malls in Kolkata, Raipur, Bihar and one of the top Builders in eastern India, I was a part of the corporate legal team and assisted the Head Legal in scrutinizing the Legal documents in respect of the proposed commercial and residential projects of the Company. I have independently & successfully closed contracts for new store leasing / licensing contracts of more than 150+ brands for new mall openings and elevated to the next level within a span of six months of joining the organization.

Moving to Delhi and taking on the legal function for the North & East regions at Shoppers Stop Ltd. must have presented unique challenges. Could you elaborate on some of these challenges, especially in navigating the legal landscape and stakeholder management in a new city?

Yes, indeed it was a little bit of a challenge for the initial days in terms of the geographical periphery and the peoples around you are concerned.  Obviously the language plays a very important role in the legal domain but I have only one philosophy when it comes to work, every piece of work, regardless of size has to be done on time and in the right manner irrespective of barriers.

I had always had a dream of joining a big brand and a pioneer in the field of retail industry and I got the opportunity to work with Shoppers Stop”, known for its superior quality products and services. During my period of employment with Shoppers Stop, I had conducted due Diligence of properties for retail and commercial development, closed documentation and due diligence of high street and Mall Anchor stores in the FY 2015-16 on pan India basis and have also developed company policies on industry-specific issues and corporate governance. 

The biggest USP of my role with Shoppers Stop was that I was already a seasoned corporate lawyer having sound exposure of dealing with brand related agreements either from the Developer’s side as well as Retailer’s side, which really acted like a cherry on the cake for this role.

The biggest challenge during those days, I felt coordinating with the local lawyers on the rural side. While as we all know that it is a common practice of sending weekly/monthly reports to the top management with the complete update on the particular day of hearing of the matter, it becomes a tedious task when the calls/ messages to the local counsels always remain unanswerable. Hopefully with the digitization of the e-courts facilities and the confonet website for consumer matters, the struggle towards obtaining the updates and the orders of the lower court matters have been marginally decreased.      

As part of the legal team at Dish TV, you were deeply involved in compliance, contracts, arbitration, and consumer litigation. What lessons did you learn from this role, particularly in terms of managing complex legal matters and driving successful outcomes?

As I have said earlier, my years of experience in the legal field is something that can truly contribute to the company’s success and my sense of dedication in every task that I handle is definitely a big plus.  

As a part of the legal team of Dish TV, I have successfully spearheaded projects and generated huge cost savings for the company by implementing innovative initiatives and providing tactical business solutions and closure of high business contracts including the timely compliance of the regulatory affairs of TRAI and other regulatory body(ies) from time to time. 

As a part of the company’s mission of acquiring the largest consumer base in providing the DTH services and to become the front-runner in service provider’s community, I have joined hands with the business team members and closed several contracts for different business verticals. My domain knowledge and hold over the customer base made a big contribution in resolving consumer matters of high stake including celebrities engaged for brand endorsement. I have really enjoyed the challenge of closing and successfully defending high ticket arbitration, commercial suits, trademark disputes. It is noteworthy to mention that I was a core team member of the Merger & Acquisition (M&A) team for acquisition of Videocon D2H by Dish TV and handled pre acquisition compliance and documentation from legal perspective 

Your experience indicates involvement in trademark infringement and brand protection. Can you discuss how you tackled these issues in your previous organizations and any strategies you employed to safeguard intellectual property rights?

As we all know that registration of trademark provides a legal protection against the misuse or copying of a company’s name or logo, which is often a company’s most valuable asset. I have been always actively involved in the trademark and related affairs since the inception of my career in every organization I have worked. The key role and have tackled the trademark related issues by : – 

  1. Filing of trademark & copyright applications on time and continuously following up till registration along with timely renewal, 
  2. Nabbing the counterfeiters illegally using the brand name by sending Cease & Desist Notices on a timely manner, 
  3. Filing of Trademark infringement suits in respect of the counterfeit good(s) appointment of local commissioners by the appropriate Court of Law.
  4. Filing of police complaints for TM & copyright infringement and intimation to the state / central tax authorities, 
  5. Advising the organization on the possible consequences and advantages regarding the registration of Trademarks, Copyrights and other Intellectual Property Rights. 

I have also designed an effective online system with the help of the third party developer for management of Intellectual Property resources of the company. 

Independently represented the company on the trademark litigation filed against the Infringers in “passing off” suit filed at Hon’ble High Court at Delhi and the Hon’ble Court has passed John Doe and Anton Pillar orders in respect of the trademark of the company.

How does the legal landscape in the logistics industry compare to the other industries you’ve worked in? What are the unique challenges and key areas of focus for legal professionals in the logistics sector?

The logistics industry is subject to a web of regulations and customs procedures, which varies significantly from one region to another. Navigating this complex landscape can lead to delays, fines, and compliance issues. The logistics sector including road industry are always prone to ongoing legal hassles including timely compliance, safety, export and import compliance; vehicle detention by administrative, quasi judicial authorities etc., GST and other tax impositions, hazardous materials safety, handling, transportation and storage, MACT, road transport issues, vehicle caught incidences under NDPS Act or any other statute. 

You need to monitor and update management on every change of laws and regulations from time to time and ensure compliance thereof. 

We have acted as an enabler to business team on proactive suggestions on legal matters on various business related issues on 24*7 bases round the year. 

Throughout your career, you’ve likely achieved numerous milestones. Could you highlight one of your most significant accomplishments, either in your past roles or your current position at Allcargo Gati Limited?

I try to achieve the set goals and work hard as much as I can, I try to reach those goals and achieve the desired outcome. I had always recognized myself as someone with a progressive attitude who does his best and gives 100% to attain goals. To me success is not just my personal achievements but also by the efforts of the people around me and my team.

I have been always been a top performer in almost all the organizations I got the opportunity to work and in this current organization Allcargo Group,  I am awarded with the “CEO Award” – FY – 2022-23 and “Best Zonal Head – Legal” – FY 2023-24 for my exemplary performance and contribution to the legal team.

Finally, drawing from your rich and diverse experience, what advice would you offer to law graduates aspiring to transition into corporate legal departments? What key insights or lessons would you share with them as they embark on their careers in the legal field?

Working as a corporate lawyer could be a very rewarding and profitable career path.  One should blindly follow the vogue “Practice – Perseverance – Perfection” for the initial days of the career. 

Corporate Legal Specialist is a relatively new discipline and the expansion and career options are ample. In the present day, company legal professionals are employed in loads of top-notch organizations and therefore this discipline of the legal profession is opening up choices in careers and professions for young law aspirants.

Henry Ford says, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” 

So learning and developing skills is the mandatory tool for the aspirants, so be ready for exhausting work and sacrifice. If you want to get certified and acquire expertise, work harder and become a specialist in corporate law. Good Luck to all young law aspirants!!!

Get in touch with Sandeep Raj Roy-

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