In conversation with Himesh Thakur, Associate at PSL Advocates & Solicitors

Mr. Himesh Thakur is an Indian lawyer presently practicing as an Associate at PSL Advocates & Solicitors. He is a graduate from Gujarat National Law University (2011-2016) and has previous work experience at Mine and Young, as well as, Panwar and Associates. Currently based in Delhi, Mr. Thakur has vast experience in various corporate law and arbitration disputes. Talking to us at SCC, Mr. Thakur gives us important insights into the corporate sector and the importance of legal research.

He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Toshika Soni who is currently pursuing law from NLUO.

1. Dear sir, could you please introduce yourself to our audience?

I am a first-generation lawyer practicing out of New Delhi. I graduated from Gujarat National Law University in 2016. Currently, I am working as an Associate with PSL Advocates and Solicitors in their dispute resolution team focusing primarily on construction arbitrations, real estate disputes and insolvency matters. My interest lies in complex disputes arising out of commercial contracts between parties, especially in relation to infrastructure development agreements and franchisee agreements. I hail from the beautiful city of Shimla and I love travelling and exploring music when I am not working.

2. What drew your curiosity to the field of law and how did you choose your field of expertise?

Honestly, law was not a top priority for me when I was completing my secondary education and my admission to law school happened by chance. My initial plan was to get into a decent college and do my Bachelors in Commerce so that I could focus on CA preparations. However, right after my class XII result came out, I was informed by one of my close friends about CLAT and the various opportunities law had to offer. I was not totally convinced yet I decided to prepare for the exam and enrolled for a crash course in one of the coaching institutions and that was the start of my journey towards law and this profession. While choosing my field of expertise, I would say various factors played a crucial role in guiding me. The biggest inspiration came from seniors and mentors who continuously guided me and provided me with diverse opportunities and guidance. After graduating from law school, I interned at some places to be sure about the area I would like to practice in and thereafter I ultimately decided to start my career in dispute resolution.

3. Can you please tell us about your time at PSL Advocates and Solicitors? What have been your major success stories there?

I joined PSL Advocates and Solicitors in late 2018. My time in the firm has been crucial in shaping me as a lawyer. During the initial months, I worked on secondment basis with a major real estate company wherein I got the opportunity to learn the role of an in-house counsel. I was advising and negotiating contracts daily, helping in framing in-house policies and structuring the legal work of the company. Apart from this, I have been involved in various arbitrations and disputes for leading corporates, majorly in the tech and infrastructure sector. It would be very difficult to narrow down any major success stories. However, the biggest success I would say was in a matter wherein we got relief from the Supreme Court in a SLP where a bank guarantee had been invoked but we were seeking to stop the encashment. It was not a simple bank guarantee matter and involved complex questions of law as the company seeking encashment had also undergone CIRP and therefore, the legal framework with respect to Insolvency Laws and bank guarantee both were involved.

4. What do you consider your landmark achievements in your career span?

I believe that every time a client gets a relief it is a landmark achievement for me. I consider myself privileged to have worked with and represented some of the biggest corporate houses and have gotten the opportunity to have advised them daily. In addition to this, the chance to represent these corporate houses in complex disputes, spanning across various jurisdictions, is something I consider as an achievement in the short span of my career. I consider it an honour to have had the opportunity to argue cases before different forums in different jurisdictions and getting this opportunity at an early stage of my career gave me the confidence which I needed to excel later in my career.

Since joining PSL Advocates and Solicitors I have been working with a major real estate company as their legal counsel. Due to my experience in real estate laws and engagement with the company on a day to day basis on critical legal issues, I have been designated as their Consultant General Counsel. I believe this amazing role of responsibility can be counted as a personal landmark achievement in my career.

5. Who inspires you towards professional growth? Is there you look up to in the profession?

The seniors and mentors I have worked with since the inception of my career have all been part of my professional growth and I really look up to all of them. They all have been an inspiration in their own way. Apart from them my friends who are also pursuing a career in law have been an inspiration towards my professional growth. I really look up to a lot of seniors in the profession who have left their mark on the legal community. If I am to take a few names they would be Justice RF Nariman and Mr Soli Sarabjee. Apart from them Mr Sameer Jain, Founder and Managing Partner of PSL Advocates and Solicitors has been a constant inspiration and I really look up to him. Having closely worked with him, I have seen his innovative approach towards law and that is something I look up to and hope to imbibe someday.

6. How was life at Gujarat National Law University? How do you think it shaped your life and career thereon?

Life at Gujarat National Law University was nothing less than a dream. The time you spend in college always remains the best time of your life irrespective of the ups and downs. During my initial years, I was not sure whether I was really interested in pursuing law and often used to have thoughts about pursuing some other field instead of law. However, with passing of time I realised law was just the perfect field for me. I was neither a top-ranking student in my batch nor one who participated in a lot of extracurricular activities. However, I made sure to make the best of every opportunity I got in any activity. I participated in moot court competitions conducted by our university and once I represented my university in P N Bhagwati International Moot Court Competition on human rights organised by New Law College, Pune. I was lucky enough that the first inter college debate competition was conducted during my time in university and for three years I was part of the organising committee. Similarly, I was also lucky to be part of the organising committee for the first MUN competition that was conducted by our university. Apart from this, I also used to participate in various sports activities where I represented my university in national competitions and also within intra-college level competitions. I also had an opportunity to attend Xiamen Academy of International Law in 2015 held at Xiamen, China on partial scholarship basis. It was an incredible experience and I attended lectures conducted by the best legal luminaries in International Law including Professor James Crawford. I made sure to have as much fun as I could during my time in GNLU and that has made the days spent in law school the most memorable. I was surrounded by amazing people and we had the greatest most carefree time of our lives, which honestly was sometimes accompanied with repercussions. My time in GNLU has been crucial in shaping my life as well as career thereon. It was during my university days where I found subjects which I was passionate about and that helped me understand in which areas of law I wanted to practice. Some very basic habits learned during the law school have stuck with me and they have been helpful. I always used to start studying for exams few days before my exam and therefore, I had a lot of reading to do in a very limited time. This habit of reading in a limited time became a boon after law school because in all the urgent matters we had to read documents running into thousands of pages and at times we only had a few hours for reading, analysing and finally drafting petitions based on these readings. My love for contracts right from drafting to negotiating to resolving disputes arising out of contracts has been because of the interest that I got in the subject during my law school.

7. What future do you see for Arbitration in India? What were your key takeaways from your practice at domestic and foreign Arbitrations?

In my opinion Arbitration in India is still at a nascent stage compared to the jurisdictions where arbitration is used as an effective tool for dispute resolution. Several amendments in the recent past depict that we are evolving and trying to be at par with these jurisdictions and bringing Indian law at par with them. In future, I am hoping to see parties using institutional arbitrations to resolve their disputes. However, I would like to state that India is a potential market which has its own challenges and therefore, the future will see a lot of positive changes and it would be really interesting to witness them. I am hoping to see better institutions emerging out of India and parties opting using these institutional mechanisms rather than choosing ad hoc arbitrations. Key takeaways from my practice at domestic and foreign arbitrations would be that arbitration can be really effective for certain categories of disputes, however, may not be the best option for all disputes. The seat and place of arbitration is very crucial in determining the outcome of the proceedings. Despite UNCITRAL model law being in place, how the arbitrations are conducted in each jurisdiction is very different.

8. How important is doing proper legal research and how should law students equip themselves with legal research skills?

The most important skill for a lawyer is to conduct impeccable legal research. Law as a field is very diverse and dynamic therefore, one needs to be abreast with the latest development in law. The same can be achieved only through a proper legal research and it helps in every facet of practice like drafting, advising, arguing in court, etc. Law students should be well equipped to use research platforms such as Manupatra, Taxmann or SCC. All the law schools now provide access to these research tools and students have an opportunity to be well versed with them. This is really helpful and crucial in internships as well as when one starts their career in law. These platforms have become really advanced and help you to achieve specific results using various filters and right search terms. Law students can use these platforms and become well equipped with them by using them in their day-to-day readings apart from using them for projects and moot court competitions. This really helps in understanding how law has changed and what law is as on date and provides reasons to why the law has been altered or stayed unaltered.

9. Not many people are familiar with the concept of “exhaustion of a search”. What are your views on it?

Exhaustion of a search means doing an extensive and thorough search and being able to get the results based on it. For an exhaustive search one needs to rely on various sources so as to make the search exhaustive and one cannot merely rely on one source or a few sources. So, a search and or research can be preliminary or exhaustive. Whereas the former one means just to briefly go through a few sources and understanding the gist of a proposition the latter one relates to a thorough search and not leaving any stone unturned while searching. The mapping of information is different in both these cases. An exhaustive search shall be able to map the information from all the available sources to provide a conclusive answer

10. What advice would you like to relay to our young readers?

There has been a disruption due to COVID-19 and it would be wrong to say that it had no impact on the legal industry. This has also changed the way of working for lawyers. The budding lawyers shall get well equipped with using online resources and understanding how they work and should get comfortable with working with them because ultimately that is going to be the future. I understand the times have changed and the students now are very competitive which in turn leads to a lot of pressure on young minds therefore, I would take this opportunity to tell them to also relax in life and to not burn themselves out. Nothing is more important than physical and mental health and this topic usually goes undiscussed and needs some attention. This profession demands patience and therefore a right balance needs to be maintained. So, work hard, get discipline in life but at the same do not forget to relax and keep your body and mind healthy. All work and no play definitely makes jack a dull boy.

Thank you!

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