Interview with Anubhab Sarkar, Founding Partner at Triumvir Law

Anubhab Sarkar graduated from KIIT School of law in the year 2015 and currently the Co-Founder of Triumvir Law. After graduating and garnering experience at top tier law firms, he founded his own firm: Triumvir Law. The firm has offices in Bangalore and Mumbai and will be expanding operations soon. His areas of interest being varied; commencing with International Law since his law school days to working in areas of Arbitration, ICA, Foreign Investment, Cross Border Commercial Transactions.

Despite running his own law firm, he still finds time to cater to another interest of his: mooting. He is still very much involved in advising, coaching various moot court teams and of course, judging rounds in national competitions. He also is a guest faculty at law schools and never hesitates from advising and conducting sessions for law students.His achievements during the 5 years in law school has been unparalleled. He was also one of the few students who got the opportunity to work under the esteemed Prof. Martin Hunter. He will discuss about his journey from law school to running his own firm, experiences in working abroad, mental health in the profession of law and of course, about his firm.

1. Hi! It has been an incredible journey since law school. How did you start your journey with the area of Law?

Thank you for having me. I am not sure whether I would take the liberty to call my law school journey to be ‘incredible’.  I thinka better-suited word for those five years would be ‘adventurous’, primarily because I set small targets for myself and in order to achieve them I embraced whatever challenges that came my way. That period was a fantastic time in life where I could pursue any goals without any apprehensions.

I started flirting with the idea of being a lawyer as early as a 5-year-old when I used to see my mother dawn the gown to go to the court. However, my career aspirations changed with time, as is with any kid. There was a time I was pretty sure that I wanted to become an economist as Amartya Sen had just won a Nobel Prize and I thought to myself that this could be something I should be okay with. No pressure at all!

The idea of joining a law school came to me towards the very end of class 12, when I figured that I really didn’t want to be an engineer. In addition to my mother, my father had a huge contribution in making my decision firm in becoming a lawyer. Here I am 9 years later trying to do justice to all the expectations and sacrifices anyone has associated with me.

2. Walk us through your journey of law school. You have had some incredible achievements during the law school,any fond memories? Do tell us about the exceptional opportunity of working with Prof Martin Hunter and at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer?

As I mentioned before, the 5 years at law school were extremely formative years in my life and career. In addition to having phenomenal professors, I had seniors whom I absolutely revered. To be honest, I wouldn’t be where I am today if those seniors didn’t push or inspire me to do the things I did. The mood at KIIT Law School was very different at that point of time, as it was a fairly new law school and everyone had that hunger to make it worth it. Quite similar to the mood at Manchester United with the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Talking about fond memories, during the second-year of my law school, my teammates and I came 6th in the Intra-Moot organised by the university leaving

behind quite a few formidable senior teams. This meant that during moot allocation we could choose any moot that we wanted to. I had my focus firmly perched on Jessup’s, the world cup of moot courts, however, after much consultation with my teammates we came to a consensus that as second-year law students it would have been much more prudent for to go for the Oxford Media Law Moot or the Henry Dunant Moot.

A day before the allocation, my dear friend and senior, who had a significant role in me becoming what I am today, convinced me to take up Jessup’s and made me believe that it was possible. As fate would have it, I represented my University at Jessup’s only as a second-year student.

Another milestone during my law school journey, of course, was getting the opportunity to work with Prof. Martin Hunter and at Freshfields. It was a phenomenal experience to get a chance to work with Prof. Hunter at Essex Court Chambers and that truly changed how I looked at the profession or how the profession looked back at me. Other than getting the opportunity to work on major cases it taught me how to become a better human being. It taught me that it is important to stay rooted to the ground while reaching for the stars. Freshfields gave me the taste of the working of a major London law firm. As a 21-year-old law student from India, getting an opportunity to work with world market leaders in the industry was a phenomenal experience. These experiences have certainly helped me in becoming the person and the professional I am today. Even the small things that you pick during these experiences add up to the larger picture and your growth.

3. Coming to your post-law school journey. You had the opportunity to work at some of the best law firms in the country. Tell us about the journey and the learning process.

On the very first day of my law school, if someone told me that I would have gotten the opportunity to work at few of the best of law firms of the country, I probably wouldn’t have believed that person.These law firms, so far, has given me my life’s biggest lessons.

It taught me to be patient, grounded and value the other colours of life. The colours of life,in this case,being able‘to lead a holistic and healthy life’. At these institutions, you

work with the best in the business, so the work,as well as the learning curve, is rather steep. You are expected to deliver quality results at every point of time, at times in unrealistic time frames. In my opinion, in relation to your work, how organised you are has a direct impact on your learning curve. In most top Indian law firms, the processes and systems in place definitely have a positive effect on your performance. Therefore, working in any of the top tier Indian law firms definitely prepare you to face any challenge in life and in this profession

4. Triumvir Law-it has been almost a year since you established your own law firm, how has the journey been? Give us some details about the firm. Also, why the name ‘Triumvir’?

It took us quite some time to narrow down on our name. The background behind calling ourselves Triumvir emanated from the Roman triumvirate and the trayambakam mantra (a verse from the Rig veda) which signifies stability of mental, emotional and physical health. Alternatively, this also has reference to Lord Shiva’s three eyes, indicating ‘an individual who can see the past, present and the future’.

Triumvir Law is a boutique law firm based in Bangalore and Mumbai. Our principles and core values of hustling with integrity have been the key to our success so far. We, as a team, rely on effective communication, teamwork, diligence, discipline and undying initiative, in order to deliver the best work product to our client. Our team has individuals with experience in the premier law firms of India and abroad. In fact, our good association with our mentors in the past has been a strong force to keep us going.

At Triumvir, we seek to be known as an all service firm. We know the requirements of our clients and the legal profession now. So we provide a diverse range of services, in the corporate and disputes realm as well. An underlying objective is to do good work in the space of international commercial arbitration (especially Bilateral Investment Treaty advisory). We have been able to feel the pulse of the legal economy and in response to this, we have been able to advise start-ups on risks and compliance and in a way serve as a millennial law firm. In addition to this, our past experience enables us to meet the needs of our clients by solving a multitude of legal problems encompassing a wide array of law areas. Our consultancy services across the country are of great help in providing time-bound legal services and advice to clients.  In addition to that, we have made a conscientious effort to contribute to the dissemination of information relating to climate change and forced migration by our research efforts.

The last year, arguably, has been the most fulfilling year of my life. Tired of a lot of occurrences over a period of time and basking in our camaraderie. Akshay, Prathik and I founded Triumvir Law in Bangalore.  A set of three lawyers, with a dream, we started out with the love, help and hope of our well-wishers, financially bootstrapped by the three of us.

The first month, was mostly about setting-up process. We barely made rent that month. We uninstalled Swiggy and Zomato for a while. However, working together was quite the joy and we gathered momentum in the following months. In April, we had our first major transaction. In June, we had our first reported transaction. Things started to look up.It is rather humbling when our opposition parties are the top law firms of the country we might have worked with.

In July, Akshay took the plunge and moved back to Bombay to start our Bombay practice. In August, our friend Sujaya joined us and set up Triumvir Law’s litigation practice. We had no clue we would be able to sustain this for so long but here we are. It’s a different sense of contentment.

It’s been a year – offices in two cities, lectures in several law schools, goodwill of our clients. We are ever so grateful! Thank you to each one of you who have been a part of this and supported us through this!

4. One of the things, you have always addressed is the importance of mental health in the legal field. Any thoughts you want to share?

In my opinion, in your life – you take the call and no one, no one, has the authority to make you feel incompetent. Let nobody define your standards for you. Once you understand the importance of respecting an individual, it all falls in place. Unfortunately, we are a part of a profession where ‘getting one up’ against someone is considered a victory.

I firmly believe that, in this profession, it is important to be always extremelyreal and human. We often take ourselves for granted to meet that deadline, get those many billable hours while letting go of our purpose. The Indian legal market has, I believe, not developed as it has abroad. The focus, rightfully so should be on the client. But in order to keep your client happy one must not forget that the lawyers must be in that motivating and encouraging environment where everyone is not just on the brink of burnout. I feel the working environment needs to become more mature so that there is less hierarchical treatment and positive reinforcement is given for hard work.   Through proper delegation, realistic targets and a good relation with our clients we are able to achieve that work-life balance at Triumvir. It is important to understand that this profession takes a lot more from us as individuals than it gives us. Hence it is important to keep that balance to keep yourself going.

Please remember, there is no substitute to a healthy mind. There is no point putting in the hours and getting that bonus if your mind is clouded with negativity throughout the day. It is scientifically proven that all this negativity, adds up and proves fatal as you grow old. Eat healthy, exercise, pursue your hobbies and at the end of the day, have a good night’s sleep.

5. Apart from your stint at law firms, you have also increased your ambit in areas of teaching for online coursesand being the visiting lecturer at various institutions. Has teaching/guiding been always something you wanted to pursue?

Throughout my law school and career, as mentioned earlier, I have been extremely lucky to have some prolific mentors. In my opinion, teaching still remains the best way to keep on learning. I have been a visiting lecturer in several law schools in India and it is an extremely enriching experience. In spite of the hectic weekdays, I prefer spending my weekends visiting law schools across India sharing ideas, communicating concepts and meeting inspiring individuals. There is a lot to learn from how present-day law students approach the law and fantastic to ideate on legal concepts from their perspective.

In addition to teaching at various law schools, my colleagues and I have formulated several online courses for IPleaders for practitioners and law student concentrating on the practical aspects of the law. Therefore, I can safely say that teaching something that keeps me going thereby allowing me to maintain sanity in my day to day work.

6. During your time in law school, not only you had been an avid mooterbut also you were very much into coaching moot teams. This is something you still continue pursuing, whether judging for National Moot Courts or Coaching several teams. What excites you on this front and any advice to budding mooters?

I was always passionate about mooting right from the beginning. I believe that mooting is one of the few things in law school which really prepares you for the outside world. Your research skills, reading, communication, interpretation and ability to handle yourself in challenging situations is tested to the core and that is what the profession demands from you. I would advise mooters to prepare their case well so that they have the confidence of facing anything that might be coming their way. Even though it might be an overwhelming experience initially, learn to enjoy the thrill of it and keep yourself calm. Don’t forget that the judge was also once in your place so make sure you’re clear on the facts, law and overall have a good attitude and approach to the problem.

I don’t think I have ever get out of mooting. At present, in spite of my extremely hectic schedule, I make it a point to mentor teams, judge competitions and conduct training programs. This helps to connect with the younger generation and understand how they approach problems.

7. Coming back to your professional sphere, what are the areas you work on primarily? Also, you have a huge passion for International Commercial Arbitration and International Law, if you could advise the readers willing to explore these areas. Especially if the person is fresh out of law school.

At Triumvir Law, we mostly work in the areas of dispute resolution, corporate commercial, technology law, private equity and venture capital and other allied areas of law.

In order for you to pursue, International Arbitration one must be well aware of the nuances of procedural law.Though the best way of learning this is once you are in practice, one should keep up with the latest developments in the field. Your knowledge will always be your best weapon in all the competition. Additionally, I would suggest becoming a member of the ‘young’ arbitration chapters of various arbitration institutions. These organisations keep organising seminars and conferences which are a fantastic avenue to network and meet market leaders in this realm of practice. Moreover, it is also advisable to keep a habit publishing articles in various famous online websites such as i.e. Kluwer, GAR etc. There is no fixed formula to success, in this field. In my opinion, just being direct and honest to your aspirations often help the most in realising them.

8. Any advice for our readers?

It is absolutely imperative to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. We all are individuals. It’s important to keep your individuality and not blend in the crowd. One must know their interests and then work towards excelling in those areas. In our profession,it’s not talent but pure hard work that is the key to success. Needless to say, be aware of your surroundings. Be conscious of your principles and worth. Most importantly, be grounded and also remember that work is not your life, it’s just a part of it. Also remember, if you fall down, get up, dust yourself and get going again. As a first-generation lawyer, I have often found solace in these lines from the movie “The curious case of Benjamin Button”, they go something like this:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

Shubhodip Chakraborty, a final year student pursuing BBALLB (Business Law Hons.) from KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar. He is also the SCC Online Student Ambassador for KIIT School of Law.

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