“Resilience and adaptability are crucial especially in a rapidly evolving field like law”- Arun Visweswaran, Partner, Addleshaw Goddard

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

Sir, could you please share the pivotal moments or experiences during your academic journey, from studying Electronics and Communication Engineering at Anna University to pursuing Law at King’s College London? What influenced your decision to transition to law?

I enrolled in Engineering as I always had an interest in the sciences and intended to pursue a career as an Engineer. However, both during school and later during my Engineering degree, I found myself consistently drawn to activities such as debating and writing and taking on leadership roles representing my peers. This led me to explore other career opportunities and law presented a perfect confluence of speaking, reading and writing skills which attracted me greatly more so given its impact on every aspect of society.  I also realised that the analytical and problem-solving skills I had developed while studying engineering would be an asset in legal practice and provide a unique perspective on legal issues.

Studying law at King’s College London was a transformative experience. It not only provided me with a solid foundation in law (and confirmed my decision to switch paths) but also exposed me to a diverse and dynamic legal environment in one of the world’s leading legal hubs. 

How did your early experiences as a trainee at Clifford Chance shape your career path? 

My early experiences as a trainee at Clifford Chance were invaluable and played a significant role in shaping my career path. During my training, I was exposed to a broad range of practice areas including transactional work and disputes. This gave me a well-rounded understanding of the legal profession and allowed me to identify the areas I was most passionate about.  It also gave me many life-long friends who continue to inspire me.

Being part of a global law firm also offered me the opportunity to work on complex and high stakes matters in three different jurisdictions being the UK, Dubai and Singapore. This experience was instrumental in developing my skills in navigating cross-border legal issues and managing diverse client relationships.

The firm’s approach of providing the highest quality of service to clients and its emphasis on continuous learning and development have greatly influenced my approach to legal practice. These early experiences laid a strong foundation for my subsequent roles and continues to guide me in my current position as a Partner at Addleshaw Goddard LLP.

How has your experience evolved with your recent transition to Addleshaw Goddard LLP as a Partner in their disputes team?

I am grateful for the opportunity to join the talented team of lawyers at Addleshaw Goddard LLP who are a leading global law firm. I joined them at a time of unprecedented growth for the firm which has been built on a solid platform of expertise and providing exceptional legal services to clients. These principles resonate strongly with my approach to legal practice, and I look forward to growing further with them. 

You’ve been involved in many high-value and complex cases throughout your career. Could you walk us through a specific case that stands out to you and share the challenges you faced and lessons learned? 

The first construction dispute I handled as an associate was also a memorable one due to the challenges it posed to me personally and the lessons learned. This was a large infrastructure dispute valued at over USD 200 million and I was leading all aspects of the matter from drafting the pleadings, handling witnesses and experts to conducting a large part of the advocacy.  

While I had participated in various moots during law school, this was my first experience of advocacy (after law school) where I had to cross-examine three fact witnesses and the delay expert. In the process of preparing my questions, I came across one of the clearest expositions of the art of cross-examination in Irving Younger’s lecture from the 1970’s (which is available on Youtube). Taking his “10 commandments” as a guide, I carefully prepared my strategy for cross-examination and delved into technical questions with the assistance of our delay expert. It was therefore entirely satisfying to have effectively cross-examined the expert’s opinion and challenged their credibility such that the Tribunal dismissed their report entirely.  It was particularly gratifying when the other side personally congratulated me on a very good cross-examination. 

This case taught me the importance of thorough preparation and the value of a well-planned cross-examination. It also reinforced my focus on construction disputes where my engineering background brings an ability to delve into both the legal and technical issues.  

With your extensive experience across the Middle East how has working in diverse legal systems and cultures shaped your approach to dispute resolution, and what unique challenges have you encountered?

Working in diverse legal systems and cultures in the Middle East has significantly shaped my approach to dispute resolution. It has taught me the importance of understanding the local business culture, legal landscape, and the unique dynamics of each jurisdiction. 

Each country in the Middle East has a unique legal system and regulatory framework. For instance, the DIFC Courts in Dubai and the ADGM Courts in Abu Dhabi operate on a common law framework, while other parts of the UAE follow civil law. Understanding these differences and being able to operate effectively within these diverse legal systems requires adaptability and has been an opportunity for professional growth.

Overall, my experience in the Middle East has enriched my legal practice and provided me with a broader and more nuanced perspective on dispute resolution.

Given your role in tech disputes, how do you navigate the intersection of technology and law? Can you share a notable case or challenge you faced in this realm and how it was resolved?

Navigating the intersection of technology and law requires a good understanding of both fields. It’s about being able to understand the technical aspects of a case, as well as the legal implications. This is where my background in engineering combined with my legal expertise comes into play.

One notable case I handled involved advising a global tech company on a multi-million-dollar software licensing dispute with a global software/cloud service provider. The case was complex as it involved intricate details of software licensing, cloud computing and IP rights. The challenge was to understand the technical aspects of the software provided and how that interacted with the contract terms and the facts which were quite complex. 

Our advice allowed the client to successfully conclude a settlement with more than 90% reduction of the claim amount. The case was a testament to the importance of understanding both the technology and the law in tech disputes. It also highlighted the value of negotiation and mediation skills in resolving complex disputes.

How has sharing your insights through publications contributed to your professional growth, and how do you stay updated on the latest developments in your areas of expertise?

Sharing insights through publications has been a vital part of my professional growth. It has not only allowed me to contribute to the broader legal discourse but has also helped me clarify my own understanding of complex issues. Furthermore, my publications have also been a valuable tool for engaging with clients and other professionals in the field.

Staying updated on the latest developments in my areas of expertise is a continuous process. I regularly read legal articles, attend seminars and conferences, and participate in professional networks and associations. I also engage in regular discussions with colleagues and other professionals in the field, who often provide valuable insights into emerging trends and issues.

Drawing on your experience, what advice would you give to recent law graduates who are just starting their legal careers? What key lessons have you learned that you believe would be valuable for those entering the legal profession today?

  1. Find your passion: Law is a broad field with many specializations. Try to gain exposure to different areas of law early in your career to identify what truly interests you. Once you find your passion, dive in and become an expert in that area.
  2. Never stop learning: The law is constantly evolving, and it’s important to stay updated on the latest developments in your field of practice. Regularly read legal journals, attend seminars and webinars, and participate in professional associations.
  3. Develop strong relationships: Building strong relationships with colleagues, mentors, and clients is crucial for advancement in the legal profession – and this starts right from law school!  
  4. Work on communication skills: Effective communication is key in the legal profession. Whether you’re advocating for a client in court or drafting legal advice the ability to convey your ideas in a simple, structured, and persuasive manner is crucial. 
  5. Embrace technology: Technology is transforming the legal profession. Be open to learning about new legal tech tools (e.g.AI) and how they can enhance your practice.

As for key lessons, one of the most important I’ve learned is that resilience and adaptability are crucial especially in a rapidly evolving field like law and one should remain curious about developments rather than shun them altogether. The other lesson imparted to me by a senior counsel I admire is that of the 3 P’s – Preparation, Preparation, Preparation – which is critical to success in any case.

Get in touch with Arun Visweswaran-

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