“With India experiencing rapid growth, witnessing a surge in startups and companies undergoing transformations, there is a burgeoning demand for M&A and related expertise”- Corporate Lawyer Sandip Patil

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

Can you provide a brief overview of your journey in the field of law, from your educational background to your current role as an in-house Legal Advisor?

My journey began with a passion for Indian civil services, steering my interest towards law despite an initial background in mechanical engineering. Pursuing a law degree from the University of Pune, I prioritized learning over grades, delving deep into various legal dimensions through diplomas, certifications, and practical experience. Working extensively in real estate law before completing LLB, I continued to expand my expertise in diverse legal areas—Civil, Criminal, Family, Consumer, Cooperative, Commercial, Labour, and Finance. 

Joining a Pune-based law firm with a broad spectrum of cases but limited manpower allowed me to rapidly acquire extensive knowledge. Transitioning to a corporate role in a Singapore based company, specializing in commercial, legal, and financial advisory for startups, exposed me to a new realm of laws such as Corporate, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and Cyber Law. 

Currently, as a Legal Advisor in a cluster of companies, I handle multifaceted legal responsibilities spanning litigation management, corporate agreements, Real Estate law, IPR, Data Privacy, compliance, and due diligence. 

In your experience at Bluebox Consulting Pte. Ltd. in Singapore, how did you handle entity creation, management, and dissolution, especially in the context of startup operations?

During my tenure at Bluebox Consulting Pte. Ltd. in Singapore, I navigated entity creation, management, and dissolution within the startup landscape. Singapore’s legal and corporate procedures are notably straightforward, featuring user-friendly applications and streamlined processes that were quick to grasp and integrate into operations. Compared to India, the procedures are notably simpler and less cumbersome. Working closely with government agencies like ACRA & IRAS was a delight; their support further emphasized Singapore’s business-friendly ecosystem, which I found particularly favourable.

How have skills such as Legal Research, Due Diligence, and Litigation Management been crucial in your day-to-day Work, and can you share a specific example where these skills were instrumental?

In my current role, the company faces diverse litigations including SCC under section 138 of NI Act 1881, labor law cases, Special Civil suits, RCAs, among others. An instance that highlights the importance of my legal research skills occurred during a specific litigation where we needed case law to challenge the plaintiff’s authority to file the suit. Despite involving external counsel, my legal research proved pivotal. I uncovered relevant Case Laws that not only addressed the pertinent legal points but also showcased instances where the same individual involved in our case had committed a similar act in different cases across various High Court jurisdictions. This comprehensive research significantly contributed to our case strategy and defence.

As someone with expertise in Contracts & Negotiation, what advice would you give to professionals entering negotiations for international agreements?

For professionals entering negotiations regarding international agreements, I would emphasize the critical role of dispute resolution and jurisdiction clauses. Litigation costs in foreign countries such as the US and Singapore can be exceptionally high. Hence, incorporating arbitration clauses can significantly save on expenses and prove to be a more cost-effective solution.

You have pursued various certifications, including a diploma in “US Corporate Law & Paralegal Studies.” How have these certifications enhanced your legal knowledge and skills in practice?

These certifications I pursued, particularly the diploma in “US Corporate Law & Paralegal Studies,” have been immensely beneficial both in my current role and in my freelance endeavours. In my job, I frequently handle a diverse range of corporate agreements, many originating from foreign countries, necessitating a deep comprehension of international laws and procedures. This certification has served as a strong theoretical foundation that greatly supports and informs the practical work I undertake on a day-to-day basis.

Pursuing a Diploma in Mergers & Acquisition is an interesting choice. How do you see this specialization shaping your future roles or contributions to your current position?

Enrolling in a Diploma in Mergers & Acquisitions is a strategic investment in futuristic skills and opportunities. With India experiencing rapid growth, witnessing a surge in startups and companies undergoing transformations, there is a burgeoning demand for M&A and related expertise. I foresee this specialization playing a pivotal role in future roles or contributions, as M&A, being an extensive domain, already contributes, to some extent, to my current role, and I anticipate it will continue to be an asset as the complexities of M&A transactions become more prevalent in the professional landscape.

Working at Prof. Vijayrao Kale & Associates, you dealt with a variety of litigation matters. Can you share an experience that significantly impacted your approach to legal advocacy?

Sometimes, circumstances unexpectedly come to one’s aid. Learning directly from senior lawyers can be challenging, especially for first-generation lawyers like myself. In such situations, one must proactively seek opportunities and glean as much knowledge as possible despite facing repeated denials, frustration, and dissatisfaction.

Fortunately, during my tenure at Prof. Vijayrao Kale & Associates, I encountered a wealth of diverse litigation cases at various stages. Despite the limited number of Advocates available to handle these cases, this situation placed a substantial burden and responsibility on me as a newcomer in the field. This pressure, however, became a catalyst for my intense learning process, and I embraced it wholeheartedly. Within a remarkably short span, I absorbed an extensive amount of knowledge and procedural insights. I acquired insights that an average lawyer might not gain even after five years in the field, all within a mere 1-2 years.

While the pay scale was disappointing, the experience and knowledge gained were invaluable. This challenging environment became the breeding ground for exponential growth in my understanding and practical experience within the legal sphere.

Considering your diverse experience in law, what general advice would you give to fresh graduates entering the legal profession today?

Considering the diversity of experiences in law, my advice to fresh graduates venturing into the legal profession today revolves around the distinction between theoretical knowledge and its practical application. While understanding substantive law might seem more accessible, grasping procedural laws—often intricate and challenging to remember—poses a hurdle for beginners, especially first-generation lawyers.

Newcomers commonly struggle in acclimating to law practice due to insufficient revision of procedural laws. In my view, it is crucial for budding legal professionals to focus on memorizing procedural laws—prioritizing the relevant and frequently used ones—right from the outset of their practice. This foundational understanding significantly eases the comprehension of court procedures and accelerates progress towards higher levels of learning within the field.

Lastly, I would like to quote Roy Bennett for the first-generation lawyers,

 “Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”

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