Vedula Venkata Vyagraeshwara Sastry graduated from South Calcutta Law College (2006-2011). At present, he is working with Khaitan and Co. as a Senior Associate. His areas of practice include litigation (both civil & criminal), Dispute Resolution, Banking laws, Litigation & Corporate Advisories, Legal drafting & Legal research, General Corporate and Admirality matters.
In this interview he talks to us about:
- His experience at Khaitan and Co. till now.
- Main areas of law he deals with.
- Recruitment process at Khaitan nd Co.
- Advise to law students who suffers difficulty in finding their area of interest.
As a senior associate in Khaitan and Co., what is the work experience you have gathered till now?
I consider myself lucky as I had the opportunity of starting my career from Khaitan & Co. and with the guidance of my mentor, Mr. Arvind Jhunjhunwala, Senior Partner of the firm all throughout, I got immense opportunities to work on new and interesting matters. Presently, I shall complete my five years in the firm this December 2016, however, I would say my extra three years exposure to work during my college days at the firm was more fruitful. Right from my early days in the firm till today, I am getting involved in variety of work and which includes Civil matters, Company Matters Arbitration matters, Insolvency Laws, Constitutional matters Admiralty matters, Environmental matters, Consumer matters, Matters under the MSME Act, Testamentary matters, Matters relating to Debt Recovery Laws and Criminal matters.
More importantly, my mentor always used to lay emphasis on two things First) all litigation lawyers working in a firm should make an endeavor to act and represent client’s in court with the limited assistance of Independent Counsel and should not act a Post office. I have taken full advantage of this, and have started appearing and arguing before Courts and also before various tribunals starting from DRT’s, CLB now NCLT , NGT, Estate Officer right from my trainee days and this is very important. I still remember that during my early days, I happened to appear before DRT to seek an adjournment on the ground of my colleague (who was in charge of the matter) and who was not present on that day. I thought it is simple so I agreed. I was new then, was not even aware of the matter and I simply went and submitted the same. The LD member after hearing me has just said that “…Your client has admitted the dues, so I am passing an order directing your client to pay…” I was speechless, could not even react and accordingly the LD DRT passed an order directing my client to deposit around fourteen crores. From that day I decided that I will never endeavor to pray for adjournment and shall always endeavor to be fully ready and argue the matter. I must say that matter taught me the lesson to fight and after that the banks have resorted to various forums to recover the amount but I always stood in their way and ultimately the matter got settled but it was an experienceand b) Second, we should always be ready to accept the work and render our service even at the eleventh hour. I still remember that for my first matter, I had to work the whole night of 31st December 2011, and 1 January 2012, though my friends were enjoying the new year party but then I realized that this is the real challenge which as litigation lawyers we should be ready to take and still today, I do the same.
What are the main areas of law that you deal with? What does a senior associate have to do at a big law firm like this?
I am not a specialist lawyer and I do all things which come across. My main forte includes civil matters, Company Matters Arbitration matters, Insolvency Laws, Constitutional matters Admiralty matters, Environmental matters, Testamentary matters, Matters relating to Debt Recovery Laws, Consumer matters, Matters under the MSME act and Criminal matters.
As a Senior Associate the responsibility is to ensure that you give the best service to your client. We should try and aim a situation where the client should repose full faith in the decisions and strategy advised by us. Once, a client is happy with the work and the service that would automatically pave way for new clients without any display of PR skills.
What skills and qualities do you think have helped you achieve your current position and stature?
First is hard work. There is no substitute to hard work. We all may not be intelligent but we should be hard working. I always wanted to be a lawyer and I love what I do and I work hard for it and Second is the Assistance you get from your mentors, I have been lucky that I go the guidance of eminent legal professionals, to name them, My Senior Mr. Jhunjhunwala, Mr. S N Moookherjee, Senior Advocate, who allowed me to attend his chamber and to use his library after my work hours at the firm and have always guided me and and Mr. Anirban Ray, Advocate who always guides me in resolving the legal problems. They all have provided me with quality guidance and have extracted the best out of me.
What is your opinion when people say that all they have learnt is in their years of practice? What was the case in your situation?
I agree to this as the same applies to me. Practice makes a man perfect and for lawyers both corporate and litigation it is the practice and application of law which grooms them. In college days, we don’t even realize as to how the real world would be and this system has to change. Education needs to be more precise and simple. The authorities should endeavor to act in a manner that every individual who graduates law must be in sync with the practical reality of life. Life in college is different then what exactly it appears when one chooses to join litigation and to act as a Counsel. The dimensions of life vis-a-vis in the present competitive world requires a robust system of education and learning which will make law graduates more self-sufficient
Please tell us the recruitment process at Khaitan and Co.? How did your appointment take place?
I believe our office has campus recruitment, where students studying at different law schools are selected. I have also seen lateral hires. So it all depends. Since I was associated with the firm since my college days, and was shaping up well, so maybe I got recruited after I graduated law in the year 2011 itself.
What changes has being a senior associate brought into your life, do you ever feel that there is excess of work load on you?
I do not feel any change. Life is the same. I always want more work as I do not like to sit idle and also do not like to keep things pending. I wish we had a day more than 24 hours, so that I can devote substantial time what I love doing.
Have you ever considered litigation or starting up on your own? Would you say the opportunity a firm provides for a young lawyer is worth the trade off in building reputation?
I am enjoying what I am doing and the level of freedom that my mentor has entrusted me at work cannot be compared so idea of doing independently never came across to my mind till now.
You are working with Khaitan and Co. since your college days. What would you say contributes to the high attrition rate of the top law firms?
It depends to person to person and also largely on the individual goals a person has for himself. Higher attrition rate is everywhere and nothing particular with law firms.
Lots of students find it very difficult to find their area of interest. What would be your advice to law student or young lawyer who is suffering from this dilemma?
Read well. And focus on what you want to be and aim for that. Never lose hope and always keep trying. Please try and aim what you want to be. Identity your strengths and weakness as this shall help you to focus on the areas which needs more attention. Enjoy your college learning days but at the same time also pursue your dream.
Where do you see yourself ten years down the line? Do you aspire to be like somebody from this field?
Ten years too far, Honestly, I have not planned that far. Presently, I want to be the most sought after lawyer by continuing what I am doing. I want to make sure every client who comes to me is satisfied with the quality of services and that should pave way for new opportunities of assisting new client’s.