Rosalyn Malik is currently working as Senior Associate with the trademarks team at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., New Delhi. In this interview, she talks about her journey from Remfy & Sagar to SAM and also shares a piece of advice to aspiring lawyers for carving a niche for themselves. She has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Nritika Sangwan who is currently pursuing law from Army Institute of Mohali.
- Greetings of the day Rosalyn ma’am. Thank you so much for sparing your valuable time for us. How would you introduce yourself to our readers?
Happy to be here!
My name is Rosalyn. Born and brought up in Delhi, I studied law at Amity Law School, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. I started practice in 2013 as an associate with the trade mark litigation team at Remfry & Sagar, Gurgaon. Currently, I am a senior associate with the trademarks team at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., New Delhi.
- How did you decide to pursue law and when did you discover that intellectual property law was your calling?
From a very early age, I wanted to be either a forensic scientist or a lawyer. Clearly, it was not a well-researched or well-thought decision at that time. However, somewhere along the years, this idea planted itself firmly in my head. It was not long before my options narrowed themselves down. Observing how “law” permeated every stratum of civilised society, I recognised the inevitability in engaging with the subject.
Initially, I was clueless about the path I wanted to take post my bachelors in law. While I learnt concepts in the classrooms, it was internships that gave me a true picture of the real world. I was fortunate enough to secure an internship with Anand and Anand, a boutique intellectual property (IP) firm in 2012. This internship helped me understand intellectual property and experience its application to facts. With this, as some would say, I was sold – intellectual property it was!
- We know that there are various boutique IPR law firms. How is the learning curve and career growth different in a boutique IPR law firm vis-à-vis a full-service law firm? Where would you recommend a fresher to start their career?
Having worked at both places, I can say that the learning curve and the career growth depend on the person rather than the place. However, the exposure each has to offer varies greatly. I started my career with Remfry & Sagar, an IP boutique firm, where I learnt the basis of IP and its application to complex factual cases. I credit the firm for providing me a solid foundation to build my career. My experience at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., India’s leading full-service law firm has helped me widen my perspective of intellectual property law. Unlike an IP boutique firm, the work at a full-service law firm is very different. My work allows me to experience the interaction of intellectual property laws with other laws. Also, the full-service set-up has given me an opportunity to explore commercial aspects of intellectual property. Briefly put, working with a full-service law firm has enabled me to look at the bigger picture as opposed to just one aspect of the subject.
So, for a fresher, if you have your heart and head set on IP laws, consider starting with an IP boutique firm. Once you have your basics correct, you can choose an appropriate venue to expand your skillset.
- Many students believe that IPR is a very diverse field of law including various branches inter alia trade marks, patents and copyrights. Should a fresher strive to become an expert in IP law in general or an expert in one specific branch?
I believe it is always good to have more than one arrow in your quiver. As you interact with an increasing set of IP laws, you begin to realise that there is a substantial overlap between, say, trade marks, copyrights, and designs. It is good to start as a generalist and thereafter, sharpen your focus to one field. You will eventually need in-depth knowledge of all aspects of intellectual property to be able to be successful and recognised.
- How does one start a career in hardcore IPR litigation? What kinds of internships would you recommend students to look out for if they are interested in IPR litigation?
The perfect place to start a career in litigation – intellectual property right (IPR) or otherwise – would be with an office that provides you with hands-on experience. Apart from being well versed with law, litigation demands a whole different skillset from a young lawyer. You must not only be able to draft lucidly but present the same in the form of an argument with equal finesse. Also, strategising a litigation is important. So, my advice to law students would be to look out for internships that offer you an opportunity to witness seniors practising “court craft” and imbibe some of their qualities. These internships could be with individual practitioners, law firms, or senior counsels or arguing counsel – each has a perspective to offer which will only add to your pool of knowledge.
- What is the skillset required to succeed in the IPR space and what skills can students and young professionals build to outshine in present times?
We are witnessing rapid changes in the way businesses are evolving and the growing importance of intellectual property as we move towards an age of digitisation. The law regarding IPR is evolving as we speak even more so in the context of enforcement. With this, I believe being tech-savvy would be a great addition to your skills and may help you stand out. Keeping up with technology allows one to better understand how the existing body of law can be applied to these new scenarios. This also in turn allows lawyers to assist in developing precedents which will lead the way when legislation is yet to catch up. Additionally, being aware of the international developments in IP can offer a perspective on unique applications of the existing framework in India.
- Since IPR is not taught in university curriculums in much detail and depth, what can law students do to hone their skills in the subject? How much value do IPR webinars and courses hold on the resume of a fresher looking for employment?
Intern, intern, and intern. Grab every opportunity you get because there is no substitute for real world hands-on experience. In addition to this, webinars are a great avenue to benefit from the experiences of the speakers. It provides you with an opportunity to open yourself up to a new point of view or perspective which may previously have escaped your attention. Similarly, courses outside of college may go beyond the bare minimum curriculum and dive deeper.
Of these three – internships should be of the greatest value. From a recruiter’s point of view, an internship shows that you do not shy away from stepping outside your comfort zone to chase your goal.
- What ancillary laws should a student interested in IPR have knowledge of?
Apart intellectual property laws, I think a basic understanding of Civil Procedure Code, Contract Act and Evidence Act, to name a few legislations, is important.
In a nutshell, being an IPR specialist does not translate into having a narrower field of study. Much like a generalist, you would need to be aware and understand the interplay of the various laws with your primary subject.
- A number 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?
During the course of internships, we all have access to journals and databases for online legal research. As a first-year associate, a commentary was the last source on my list when researching. Primarily because I thought it would be too time consuming. However, with time I discovered that things were quite to the contrary – a commentary will often provide you with legal principles in simplified language and substantiate the same with case laws. Also, they help in identifying terminologies which can be used to search on online databases.
- As a senior associate 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? We know that you are a beautiful singer and the first Indian girl to get successfully certified by Trinity College London. Does it become difficult to balance work and your hobbies once you are in the legal profession ?[
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. values work-life balance. So, one does not really need to struggle to make room for some fun.
But of course, you do hit a patch every now and then when stepping away from your desk can become tricky. This, I believe calls for some time management to ensure you do give yourself a break. I ensure that I prioritise my time such that my weekends are set aside for singing.
Like my mom puts it – if you really want to do something, you will “make” time.
- 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 would not restrict my answer here to lawyers alone or solely men or solely to women. This is for everyone who is stepping out into the real world. Every step of the way, people that you meet will have something to offer, but not everything that is offered will be of value – this includes opinions. I think it is an essential life skill to be able to sift the grain from the chaff. Keep your eyes set on your goal and learn to recognise the difference between noise and advice.
Of course, if you do come across a glass ceiling, know that it is meant to be shattered.