Adity Chaudhury did her graduation from the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata and began her career with the law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co. She joined Argus Partners in 2009 and has since been a part of the corporate team at the Firm. She is currently Partner at Argus Partners. She has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Nritika Sangwan who is currently pursuing law from Army Law School, Mohali.
- How would you introduce yourself to our readers?
A keen student of corporate law.
- How do you compare yourself now to when you were a fresher and what are some of the key lessons that you’ve learnt during your experience as a corporate lawyer?
I would like to believe that I continue to have the same level of curiosity and enthusiasm as I had as a fresher. But yes, all-nighters are not as easy as they used to be! The key lessons that I have learnt are –
- Never stop unlearning and learning.
- Treat every client as your only client and be solution oriented.
- There are no shortcuts. Don’t compromise on quality.
- There is no substitute to hard work.
- Taking care of your health is very important. It will eventually have a direct impact on your work.
- Corporate law can be a very rewarding and satisfying profession if you have the right attitude and willing to delve deep.
- Was it difficult to elevate to the position of Partner at a leading law firm?
Becoming a Partner at Argus is entirely based on merit. The hard work certainly paid off.
- What significant changes do you see in the M&A Law space in view of the current pandemic and how has it affected your esteemed organisation?
Of course the pandemic came as a shock to all of us. We were concerned. However, fortunately, as far as corporate work is concerned, it has not been drastically affected. There is a steady work flow. The most significant change that has taken place is “work from home” (WFH). Like most other organisations, this too was a new concept for us. In fact, in March, we were one of the first firms to start WFH even before the lockdown started. I am pleasantly surprised as to how easily we have adjusted to the new normal, thanks to early adoption of technology by our firm.
As far as M&A is concerned, I do see more of distressed M&A and restructuring.
- What is the skill set required to succeed in the M&A space and what skills can students and young professionals build to outshine in present times?
I believe that the fundamental skill set required has remained unchanged over time. Following are some of them:
- Understanding the client’s needs and having an overall understanding of the business and the sector – It is not just important to know the law, but it is also important for M&A lawyers to have a very practical approach and provide workable solutions and advice to clients. For providing effective advice, one needs to understand what the client wants/needs and also have an overall understanding of the client’s business and the sector in which it operates. This is one aspect which sometimes gets lost.
- Attention to detail – As an M&A lawyer, one has to sift through a lot of information and data, especially of the target company. Analysing the data thoroughly, identifying risks, addressing those risks and providing meaningful advice to the client on the basis of such information, form an important part of M&A deals.
- Having the right temperament to negotiate the deal and deliver a successful transaction to the client – M&A negotiations and deal making is not about winning or losing or about one upmanship. As an M&A lawyer, you have to negotiate the best possible deal for your client, keeping in mind the client’s strategic objective and at the same time weighing and addressing the risks adequately. For this, the right temperament is required. Though M&A lawyers are sometimes typecast as hot-headed, however, I believe that one should ideally have the ability to stay calm and composed under pressure and when the negotiations get heated.
- Multi-tasking – M&A deals can get complex and there are numerous aspects which have to be seen. There will be multiple time-sensitive work streams. One has to efficiently manage all the tasks and keep track of everything. Hence, a good M&A lawyer needs excellent organisational skills.
Of course, a lot of these skills are developed through experience and does not happen overnight. Hence, for those starting out in this field, I would just like to say – read, observe, learn and be thorough.
- We have often heard of the high attrition rate and burn outs in the first few months of working in a corporate law firm. Any advice for students in this regard?
Firstly, I think it is as much a responsibility of the law firm to ensure that freshers are eased into the work and not burned out in the first few months. Freshers are after all future partners. All that I can tell students is not to lose focus and give your 100 per cent. There is no shying away from the fact that this profession is demanding and so one has to be ready and willing to put in a lot of hard work, if you have chosen this profession. Patience is the key because, as I mentioned before, in the end this profession is very rewarding and satisfying. Speaking to seniors will help a great deal. Also, observe and learn from your seniors – this is really important and I think its one of the best ways to learn for young professionals – in fact this approach has personally helped me a lot. Would also like to point out that as far as high attrition rates are concerned, I wouldn’t necessarily attribute burn outs for all attrition of freshers.
- A lot of first year associates often struggle with legal research and using the right tools to find the law, any advice for fourth year and fifth year law students on how to be “firm” ready?
For being “firm” ready, one important thing is to take internships seriously. Internships can be a great learning experience. However, it is up to the students to make the best of their internships and seek as much work as possible from the seniors at the firm. Also as I mentioned before, take the opportunity to observe and learn from your seniors/Partners, and extract as much as you can from them – you will find all the “tools” that you’re looking for. Just a couple of points I would like to add about legal research – never give up till you find an answer – there is always an answer. And never try shortcuts in legal research – you will never go too far in your career if you do.
- Would you recommend young law students to take up additional courses in streamlined areas of law to understand the practicalities of the profession or would you recommend that they focus on studying the fundamental basics of law during their time at law school?
Nothing can substitute actual experience. To be honest, I am not sure how much a course can teach practicalities of the profession. However, it may be a good introduction to the profession. I would definitely recommend focusing on the fundamental basics of law and develop good research skills.
- As a partner at one of the leading law firms in the country, you must have a great deal of responsibilities. How do you make time for yourself outside of work?
I have the most wonderful group of childhood friends and I always try to find time to spend with them – it’s not that difficult.
- Gender diversity in leadership of Indian law firms has often been a point of discussion. Would you have any advice specifically for aspiring female lawyers?
I think before giving any advice to aspiring female lawyers, I would like to say that it is primarily the responsibility of law firms (or any organisation for that matter) to ensure that the firm has a gender inclusive and enabling environment. Equally important is support from family and society. For instance, at Argus, we take gender diversity and inclusiveness very-very seriously. We are making a conscious effort to create a truly level playing field. It has always been our endeavour to ensure that no deserving female lawyer “drops out” of the workforce merely because of motherhood. I really don’t have any specific advice for female lawyers. My advice to all lawyers would be the same – be focused, be patient, work hard and enjoy what you do.