“To succeed in the legal industry, one must possess a strong foundation in legal principles as well as critical thinking abilities. To succeed as a lawyer, you must be proficient in legal writing and research skills.” – Sumes Dewan, Managing Partner at Lex Favios

This interview has been published by Namrata Singh and The SuperLawyer Team

Reflecting on the early days of your career, could you share with us how you embarked on your journey in law and the challenges you faced when starting Lex Favios? What were some of the key lessons you learned during those formative years?

I had a passion for Law from my early days and initially started as a Litigation lawyer, and after a few years in the profession found my calling in corporate law and eventually took up more specialised areas such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Finance and   Hospitality. I spent 18 years working with large Indian Law Firms and was a Partner with laws Firms such as Fox Mandal & Desai Diwanji, before I embarked on my journey to start Lex Favios. One of the biggest challenges was to retain clients, and find the right resources and lawyers to be part of a startup Law Firm. The initial one year was more challenging, as it took a lot of convincing to clients that we can provide quality legal services in diverse areas of practice. Further, another key challenge was hiring good lawyers with experience. However, we were able to retain talent and provide quality legal advice to the clients, by ensuring that each practice area has lawyers with sound legal knowledge of its respective field. The key lesson has been that a great Law Firm is built with great human resource and by ensuring that you provide legal advise only in areas in which the Firm has an expertise, as the clients today are looking for specialised legal advice.

Being admitted as an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Fellows and Legal Scholars is a remarkable achievement. Could you share how this recognition came about, and how has it impacted your professional journey? Additionally, with numerous awards under your belt, how do you handle the balance between individual recognition and the collective success of Lex Favios?

I always had a passion for legal writing, and I contributed  to the journals of  Honorary Fellow of the Association of Fellows and Legal Scholars and they published my Article in the Journal, which was a great achievement which lead them to admit me as an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Fellows and Legal Scholars. The said achievement was a great validation of the legal work being done by me and also led to being recognised by the clients. All the awards I have won or been honoured with has been a great affirmation of the work done by me in the legal field and in diverse areas of practice. Each award is a validation of the legal contribution to our clients and the faith that clients demonstrate. The individual recognition helps in pitching to new clients and for new work, as it demonstrates our expertise in diverse legal areas and part of “A” List of top 100 Indian lawyers, goes a long way in boosting client confidence with the quality legal advice the Firm can offer. 

India has seen some notable legal developments recently. Are there any ongoing cases or legal trends that you find particularly intriguing or impactful for the legal community?

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud established the group of companies’ doctrine as a valid and applicable theory in Indian arbitration law. For India-related dealings, the Cox and Kings ruling offers a comprehensive analysis of the Doctrine and its applicability in India. It is made explicit that signing an arbitration agreement does not automatically make one a “party” to the arbitration agreement. In situations when businesses are affiliated and engage in related transactions, this could be interpreted as agreeing to be bound by the arbitration agreement. Corporate groups should be careful to make sure the transaction is structured appropriately and that their conduct is in keeping with their aim when they want only the signatory firm to be bound by the arbitration agreement. They also need to be careful not to interfere unnecessarily with discussions or the fulfilment of contractual duties by another group company. The parties may also think about including explicit language in the contract to this effect.

Given your focus on capital markets and corporate finance, how do you navigate the complexities of international transactions, and what advice do you often find yourself giving to clients in this regard? 

The key strategy I follow is gaining a thorough understanding of the laws and rules governing the relevant jurisdictions. This involves being aware of recent changes to the financial rules, corporate governance guidelines, and securities legislation. 

I have been instrumental in handling various cross border transactions, both on the M&A and capital markets wherein our role goes beyond advising on Indian Laws and we work in collaboration with counsels in other jurisdictions, to understand the regulations pertaining to acquisition of equity, listing of shares in other jurisdictions other than India and bringing them in sync with Indian Laws. Indian companies listing outside India or setting ups operations outside India, need to adhere to both Indian Laws and laws of the country where the investment is being made. It is important for a legal counsel to be aware of laws of both the countries and advise the client on the applicable regulations and compliances.  Unexpected difficulties during and after the transaction are reduced by having a thorough awareness of each entity’s financial situation, legal status, and reputation. Pre-transaction planning, negotiation tactics, and post-transaction integration plans are all included in this. 

For aspiring lawyers entering the field today, the legal landscape is vast and evolving. What areas or emerging trends do you believe hold the most promise for young legal professionals, and why?

The need for legal experts who comprehend data protection, cybersecurity, and the legal ramifications of cutting-edge technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence is rising along with our increasing reliance on technology. Legal experts who focus on privacy and data protection may assist companies in navigating laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and provide guidance on the best ways to handle sensitive data, as data privacy is becoming an increasingly important topic. Remote work and legal IT tools are being welcomed by the legal profession. In the changing legal landscape, lawyers who are skilled at using technology to provide effective legal services and facilitate remote cooperation will be in a strong position. The areas of practice such as cyber security, date protection, artificial intelligence and insolvency are the new emerging legal practice areas for young professionals in the field of law. 

Given the dynamic nature of technology and its impact on various industries, how important do you think it is for law students to develop expertise in technology law? Are there specific skills or knowledge areas within this field that you would recommend they prioritize?

Having a solid understanding of technology law is crucial for law students in the quickly changing legal world of today. Technology law interacts with many different businesses and legal fields, covering a broad spectrum of legal concerns pertaining to the use, advancement, and regulation of technology. Almost every business, including healthcare, banking, entertainment, and others, depends heavily on technology. In order to solve the particular issues posed by emerging technologies like blockchain, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence, it is imperative to comprehend the legal ramifications of these innovations. It is also crucial to comprehend the legal ramifications of entrepreneurship and new company models as technology continues to spur innovation. Technology lawyers may help new and existing businesses navigate legal frameworks, protect their intellectual property, and make sure they are following industry-specific requirements. 

Regarding specialized knowledge and abilities in the field of technology law, law students who are interested in this area should prioritize learning about cybersecurity and data protection laws and regulations, since these issues are becoming more common. Technology lawyers frequently handle matters pertaining to trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Understanding intellectual property law is crucial to safeguarding the inventions and developments of clients.  It is crucial to be knowledgeable about privacy laws and regulations in light of the growing concerns about privacy. This entails being aware of local privacy regulations as well as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Lex Favios has received recognition as the Best New Law Firm and in various other categories. What do you attribute this success to, and what goals do you have for the firm’s future?

As a Law Firm, I understand that teamwork, creativity, and a common goal lead to success rather than individual accomplishments. I wish to express my gratitude to our team for their excellent teamwork in navigating the complexities of the legal field by playing to each other’s strengths. I attribute this success to my skilled and dedicated team. The Firm has a dedicated team of lawyers, for each Practice area and each team plays a vital role in making the Firm meets its goal. Their expertise and commitment contributed significantly to the Firm’s success. As the legal landscape constantly changes, flexibility is essential. What has made us unique is our dedication to remaining on the forefront of legal trends, fostering innovation, and making investments in professional growth. In addition to overcoming the difficulties, we have grown stronger, more resilient, and better suited to assist our clients in a world that is always evolving. 

The Firm is a member of Legal Netlink Alliance, a member network of USA and Europe, which enables us to provide legal services across the globe.

As for setting goals for the future, it includes the following expanding the firm’s legal knowledge to provide a wider range of services to clients, establishing new offices or broadening the firm’s clientele to include clients in other areas, bringing in new business and strengthening ties with current clients to grow the clientele of the company. 

Beyond your professional achievements, we’re curious about your personal interests. What hobbies or activities do you find yourself drawn to when you’re not immersed in the legal world?

Beyond my professional engagements, I love to spend some time on reading books, playing golf on the weekends, watching law related web series and spending time with my family and kids, which is a nice rejuvenation and charges me for the upcoming week. 

For aspiring lawyers or students pursuing a legal career, what aspects of their college journey do you believe are most crucial for their professional development? Are there specific types of internships or experiences you recommend they focus on to better prepare for the challenges of the legal field? 

I suppose the most crucial aspect of their college is networking. One should build a strong network within the legal community. The students should attend seminars and conferences to connect with lawyers, judges and other legal professionals. To succeed in the legal industry, one must possess a strong foundation in legal principles as well as critical thinking abilities. To succeed as a lawyer, you must be proficient in legal writing and research skills. Finally, they should be taught and practice ethical and professional decorum. Integrity and trustworthiness are essential in the legal field. I believe that they should explore several legal fields as well in order to have a comprehensive viewpoint. This will help them in making educated decisions regarding potential career pathways.

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