Interviews

Tulika Srivastava, Senior Manager – Legal, at L’Oréal, on law school and building a career after graduation

Tulika Srivastava graduated from Amity Law School in 2005 and had thereafter worked with Crawford Bayley & Co., DSK Legal and Nicholas Piramal India Ltd. She currently works as Senior Manager – Legal at L’Oreal India Private Limited.

In this interview, she talks about:

  • Law school experience at Amity Law School
  • Work at Crawford Bayley, DSK Legal and Nicholas Piramal
  • Current work profile of Senior Manager – Legal at L’Oréal

 

What inspired you to study Law? How did you get through to Amity Law School?

Back in 2000, when I passed out of school, I was at that juncture of my life (which every confused and aspiring teenager goes through) where I didn’t know where to head. However, luckily for me, I got the much needed guidance from my school and parents who helped me realise where my true interest lay. I took a conscious decision based on the subjects of my interest back then and, therefore, it only made sense for me to pursue a career in the field of law.

I had to take an entrance test to get into Amity. This was 15 years ago and a lot has changed since then, including the admission process.

 

Tell us about your law school journey from the 1st year till your final year. As a law student which extra activities did you participate in? How important are these co-curricular activities?

We were the second batch of Amity Law School, and that allowed us to gain exposure in an array of fields. There were no precedents to follow and that only worked in our favour – as we were learning through experimentation and from our own mistakes. We had a sound internal faculty and considering our location and the proximity to the Apex Court of India, we also had a host of legal luminaries as visiting faculty.

While I was a part of the Internal Moot Court Committee, I also led the Dramatics Society at the same time and won many accolades for my College. Co-Curricular and other activities help you develop an all-round personality, improve your interpersonal skills and also boost your self-confidence. Moreover, law school journey is not an easy one – activities apart from your regular curriculum, therefore, help you refresh the burdened mind as well.

 

How should one go about the internships? How important it is for a law student to plan out the course of his internships to successfully gain from the internship experience?

Internship ‘planning’ can be very unique to each individual depending largely on his/her aspirations. It could be a straight jacketed single stream internship pattern or you could chose to get flavours of various fields. There are pros and cons of both. Whichever method you chose, make sure your internships help you design your career path eventually – whether it’s in corporate, litigation or academia.

The importance of Internships lies in a simple known fact that Law cannot be taught or learnt merely from textbooks. You have to know the applicability and the consequence of each and every act, rules, sections you learn. This is where internships play a vital role, which gives you a real life practice experience while you are in law school. In fact, at times, internships may also give students an opportunity to learn subjects which may not be a part of their curriculum at law school.

Primarily, as a law student, you will find yourself spending a lot of time in the library (which also includes legal web portals now) doing researches on diverse subjects. So do not expect much more than that in your first few internships. Subsequently, in finalyears of law college, you may be given opportunities to assist the associates in legal writing as well. Do not fret if you do not master the flair of drafting during your short internship periods, because “drafting” is one skill which requires constant polishing and honing. Make the most of your internships, grab as much as you can, do not be afraid to ask questions, because once you are a law graduate you will be expected to have answers to all those questions.

 

Would you say the ‘NLU’ branding helps its students?

Yes it is true to a certain extent in my opinion. NLU is a fantastic brand to have on your profile, which will definitely ensure you get the best break in this profession. But at the end of the day, your merits and hard work do play a significant role which take you places.

 

After graduating you joined Crawford Bayley & Co. as an Associate Trainee. How did the appointment take place? What did your work profile consist of as an Associate Trainee?

I landed in Mumbai right after I passed out of the Law College, without any leads or contacts, and without any exposure in the Mumbai legal circle. The primary task for me was to chalk out my first Five Year Plan. From the past experiences gathered during my varied internships, I had a fair clue where I was headed. I knew it was imperative for me to start with litigation so as to understand the basics, thereafter broaden my horizon by acquiring knowledge in different streams of law and eventually settle down as an in-house counsel. I, hence, sent my application to a few leading firms specialized in litigation. I got a call back from Crawford Bayley & Co. and an interview meeting was set up with a Senior Partner, pursuant to which I was recruited as an Advocate Trainee in the field of civil and corporate litigation. This was the best start I could hope for because this experience not only helped me create a very strong foundation but also gave me an in-depth knowledge about the City Civil Court and Bombay High Court functioning, its procedures, departments, etc.

 

Thereafter you left Crawford Bayley& Co. and had joined DSK Legal. What led to this shift? How was your experience working there?

I was working towards my set target. The second step now was to acquire exposure and knowledge in diverse fields of law. DSK Legal offered exactly that and was, hence, a natural progression for me.

While I had joined DSK as an Associate in the Litigation Team of the Firm, I was fortunate enough to be able to undertake a wide variety of tasks ranging from Capital Markets, Equity as well as Debt. I found myself exposed to multiple streams, so it was a little intellectually challenging but at the same time extremely gratifying and rewarding. Each transaction and each matter was full of new experiences and opportunities. All in all, I can say that DSK Legal provided me a well-rounded experience.

 

You thereafter left DSK Legal to start working at Nicholas Piramal India Ltd. as Legal Manager. What did this shift happen? What does Nicholas Piramal do and what was the nature of your work there?

A move like this was scheduled for a little later in my scheme of timelines. However, I didn’t mind when then this opportunity came my way, as it was a part of the bigger game plan in any case. “Sooner the better” I thought and jumped right in when I got an offer to work for the Indian Pharmaceutical giant Piramal Healthcare Limited (erstwhile Nicholas Piramal India Ltd.).

My work there was a mixed bouquet, which comprised of everything I had learnt till then and much more. I was responsible for end to end legal requirements of the business divisions I was handling, right from litigation, to business and brand acquisition, to intellectual property protection and of course, contract negotiation, drafting and management. The whole transition of switching from a practicing lawyer to an in-house counsel was not as easy as it seemed back then. It was not just a change of job, it was a change in the whole outlook, accountability and orientation as a legal practitioner.

 

You are currently working at L’Oréal India Private Limited as Senior Manager – Legal. How did the switch from Nicholas take place?

Learning is constant – that’s the basic premise for a successful lawyer. After 4 years at Piramal, it only made sense to change my industry in order to maintain my learning graph. L’Oréal gave me an opportunity to use my existing skills and apply the same in a different environment. More importantly it offered acquiring new skill sets essential for a corporate lawyer. I was contacted for a preliminary interview which was followed by several discussions with and within the senior management at L’Oréal and which ultimately got me on board.

 

How is a typical workday like?

L’Oréal is an atypical workplace. It has elements of erraticism due to its young and dynamic yet very structured nature. There is not a single day which is same as any previous day, and that is what maintains the freshness and keeps me going. However, broadly, a regular workday at L’Oréal for me includes co-ordinating with my Business Divisions in order to close their open issues and contracts, advising them on general legal queries from time to time, ensuring compliance and risk mitigation.

 

What is your take on the debate of Corporate Practice v. Litigation?

It has always been a big debate amongst young lawyers – Corporate practice vs. Litigation practice? I am from the school of thought which believes that Litigation is where all the groundwork lies. That’s the reason I started my career with a stint at Crawford Bayley, which gave me a sound experience in the field of civil litigation in Mumbai. I reiterate that this route is an effective way of ensuring a very robust foundation and is an important facet of a career in law. Litigation gives you a huge breadth of areas to work on and learn from. You get to research and innovate strategies in varied fields of law.

That being said, Corporate definitely increases your in-house marketability. In most companies, there’s more need for corporate activities such as securities filings, corporate governance, contract negotiation and management, etc. Moreover, with the growing number of skilled and expert lawyers, companies are more likely to keep their work “in-house” on the corporate side. If you are irresolute about which area you enjoy more, corporate will definitely provide you more careers options but comes with a bit more risk.

It is always sensible to choose an area of practice that you are passionate about, where “passionate” is the key word.

 

Lastly, what would be your parting message for our readers?

I am a decade old lawyer today, and my appetite for learning the novelty and unknown is only increasing. Abide by “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” – it will take you a long way.

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