“The use of mediation not only provides a more amicable and cost-effective resolution for clients but also helps preserve relationships that might otherwise be damaged by adversarial litigation”- Ekakshra Mahajan Mandhar, Managing Partner at Mandhar Associates 

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

Can you share what initially inspired you to pursue a career in law? Was there a specific moment or influence that set you on this path?

From a young age, I had a strong inclination towards law because it represented a pathway to justice, which deeply appealed to me. The idea of being able to contribute to fairness and uphold the rights of individuals and communities was incredibly motivating. There wasn’t a single moment that set me on this path, but rather a consistent interest in the principles of justice and equity. This passion ultimately guided my decision to pursue a career in law.

You have an impressive educational background, including an LL.M. from Penn State Law. How did your studies there shape your legal perspective, particularly in specialized fields like Antitrust, Bankruptcy, and Energy Law?

Thank you for your kind words. Indian competition law has largely evolved from U.S. antitrust law, so studying this area in the U.S. provided me with valuable insights that I could apply back home. Bankruptcy law was particularly intriguing, as it was a nascent field in India with the recent enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Engaging in a comparative analysis with U.S. bankruptcy laws provided me with a robust foundation, which has been incredibly beneficial as I now specialize in this area. Energy law, while still evolving in many respects, is a field where the growth of renewable energy sources presents significant opportunities. My studies at Penn State Law allowed me to explore emerging trends and regulatory frameworks in the U.S., equipping me with the knowledge to anticipate and navigate similar developments in India. 

Being a dual-licensed attorney in both the State of New York and India is quite an accomplishment. What challenges did you face while obtaining these licenses, and how do they complement your practice?

Obtaining licenses to practice law in both the State of New York and India was incredibly rewarding. Passing the New York Bar exam felt like a wonderful accomplishment. It was a daunting exam, but successfully navigating it instilled a sense of confidence and added credibility to my professional profile. Being dual-licensed complements my practice by allowing me to offer a broader range of legal services and insights, bridging the legal frameworks of both jurisdictions. This dual qualification enables me to better serve clients who operate internationally and provides a unique edge in comparative legal analysis.

Your work primarily focuses on resolving civil and commercial disputes. What drew you to this area of law, and what are some of the key challenges you encounter in these cases?

I have a profound understanding of the intricacies involved in civil and commercial fields like tax and bankruptcy, which provides a specialized edge in my practice.

I enjoy tackling challenging subjects, and given the vastness of civil and commercial law, it’s akin to navigating an ocean with no shore. The complexity and diversity of issues keep me intellectually engaged and continuously learning.

One of the key challenges in these cases is the depth and breadth of knowledge required to address the multifaceted legal and factual issues that arise. Each case is unique, demanding a thorough analysis and a tailored approach to achieve a resolution. Additionally, staying updated with constantly evolving laws and regulations is crucial. Overall, the dynamic and challenging nature of civil and commercial disputes aligns perfectly with my passion for the law and my desire to make a significant impact in this field.

You’ve advised both domestic and international clients on complex legal issues. How does working with international clients differ from domestic ones, and what unique perspectives do you bring to the table? 

Working with international clients often involves navigating diverse cultural backgrounds and managing a broader range of projects. This variety provides access to a wider array of legal issues and challenges, making the professional journey more enriching. Being well-versed in multiple jurisdictions allows us to offer valuable insights and advice that are beneficial from both regulatory and compliance perspectives. We guide clients on a macro level, considering the broader implications of their legal matters across different legal systems. This comprehensive understanding enables us to tailor our advice to meet the unique needs of international clients, ensuring they receive well-rounded and effective support and do not have to rely upon or engage multiple professionals across different jurisdictions. 

As a trained mediator, how do you integrate mediation techniques into your legal practice, and what benefits do you see for your clients in resolving disputes through mediation?

As an Advocate, it is essential to weigh the best interests of the client. Often a client is warring within their corporate circuit or amongst their familial relationships which could be settled out-of-court with third party intervention. Significant court backlogs and investment of time and resources required for litigation often motivate clients to pursue mediation, if counselled well. We do take pride in facilitating communication between disputing parties, by mediating between them and subsequently drawing up agreements, reiterating that issues can be resolved more efficiently and amicably through ADR than court proceedings. Even once litigation has been initiated, mediation techniques can play a crucial role in guiding parties towards a settlement. Overall, the use of mediation not only provides a more amicable and cost-effective resolution for clients but also helps preserve relationships that might otherwise be damaged by adversarial litigation.

Finally, what advice would you like to give to fresh law graduates who are about to start their legal careers, especially those aspiring to achieve similar milestones as yours?

My advice is not to fret and take the time to understand how vast the field of law truly is. It’s no longer confined to the dual choice of litigating or working for a corporate firm. The profession has expanded to offer numerous new, untapped opportunities.

I delved into the specialized field of taxation law two years after graduation, which demonstrates that you don’t have to figure everything out during law school. Use internships to explore different areas and weigh where your interests lie. This practical experience will help you discover your passion and guide your career path.

Remember, the journey to achieving milestones takes time, and each step, whether big or small, contributes to your growth as a legal professional. Stay open to learning and embrace the diversity of opportunities the legal field has to offer.

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