In conversation with Samriddha Gooptu, Associate (Competition Team), Trilegal on his journey from law school to working at Trilegal

Samriddha Gooptu is an Associate with the Competition Team at Trilegal. Mr. Gooptu is an alumnus of Amity Law School, Noida. He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Aurin Chakraborty who is currently pursuing law from SLS, Noida.

 

1. Can you please introduce yourself for our readers?

Hi! I am Samriddha Gooptu and I hail from Kolkata. I have completed my schooling from Don Bosco School, Park Circus and have pursued my law degree from Amity Law School, NOIDA. Currently, I am based in Mumbai, working for the Competition Law Team at Trilegal, headed by Ms Nisha Kaur Uberoi – Partner and National Competition Head, Trilegal.

 

2. So, given that you had to move to another city for college – how was college life exactly like and what was your biggest takeaway from it?

So, the first few months was obviously not easy, with minor instances of culture shock here and there, but I guess that is what law school is all about – you meet people from all over the country, make friends, interact with seniors and gradually they become part of your family away from home.

 

Law school I feel also helps you interact with different kinds of people and induces you to make a lot of connections. I come from a family of doctors, and I am a first-generation lawyer and that is where the skill of talking to people and making friends helped me. How to network yourself is something one must learn right from the law school days. The legal profession is such that you have to start right from the grassroot level. By grassroot, I mean the initial days of law school. Therefore, inculcating the quality of communicating and reaching out to people is something that has to be my biggest takeaway from law school.

 

3. When in your law school did you decide to take up corporate law as a career and why was it more appealing compared to the other options available to you?

Back in class 9, in school, my economics teacher Mrs Sharmilee Acharya played a major role towards my brewing interest in the subject of economics, but at the end of the day I always wanted to become a lawyer. Therefore, the perfect juxtaposition of law and economics had to be competition law for me. Competition law is a very niche subset of corporate law, and it was around my third year in law school that I actually studied competition law and eventually fell in love with the subject. A major part of this credit would also go to my law school faculty – Ms Ankita Banerjee, who wonderfully taught us the subject and ensured that our basics with respect to the subject were clear, right from the very beginning. Subsequently, with more internships, research papers and continued reading about the latest developments in the competition law space, I decided to take up competition law as a career option. Also, another major reason which led me to take up competition law was my interest in economics since school. The very urge of reading and knowing about new market and market dynamics, is something that always fascinated me and led me to eventually take up competition law – the very dynamism of this field of law appealed to me immensely.

With respect to the other available options in the legal sphere, like litigation or judiciary, it is not that I never thought about it, but at the end of the day I feel I went with what my heart had to say and I took up competition law.

4. Given that you were also in a lot of moot court competitions and writing papers, etc., how did that contribute to your growth?

Honestly speaking, in law school, I was the student who never actually went to class. My teachers were in fact surprised when they saw me in class. On the flipside, I dedicated my time more towards moot court competitions, writing articles and research papers, interning at law firms and going to college fests for music-related events.

In my opinion, the methodology of teaching in law schools really needs to be more dynamic with more assessment and emphasis on the analytical and practical side of the law, rather than mugging up notes and replicating the same in toto on to the answer scripts.  One really needs to learn how to apply the law. Merely reading the provision and the commentary on a case law, does not help. Through a moot court competition or a research paper, one actually goes beyond the scope of the textbook curriculum and reads about a topic in depth before analytically applying it in practice. Therefore, my continuous participation in these moot court competitions, client counselling competitions and writing research papers immensely helped me in knowing how to apply the law in the first place.

5. As, you said these practical experiences are quintessential – so how did your internships fare out to be and what do you think a law student should develop to have greater takeaways in their internships?

One of the first steps which people often ignore is the structuring of CVs and cover letters when applying for internships. Taking a template CV and sending the same to a law firm and an advocate, is poor practice. A CV should be structured in a way that best suits the organisation where one is applying. If one is applying for an internship to a practicing advocate, the CV should emphasise on aspects which will be best suited for the advocate’s chamber and not the template which one has already sent to a law firm. Therefore, catering to the needs of the organisation where one is applying is of pertinent importance. The second step which I feel is very important is that of reading and staying updated with the latest developments. One should not limit their knowledge to their textbook and law school curriculum. The third step, which I feel should be done right from the initial days at law school, is that of knowing how to properly read a Bare Act. People often start reading the provisions of a particular legislation before even reading the “Preamble” to the legislation. I feel to understand about a particular legislation, one must always keep in mind the legislative intent behind it, this really helps in understanding and analysing a legislation on the whole. The final and the most important step I feel is that of research. Research is an art, and one must never rush when asked to research on a particular proposition. Often research may be time consuming, but one must never give up without looking for all the possible avenues. Sometimes, there may be propositions where the conventional modes of research fail, but that does not mean all your avenues are closed. In this era of social media, there may be instances where a particular government notification is not uploaded on the ministry website, but the same may have been uploaded on the ministry’s Twitter handle. Therefore, besides being patient, one should also be smart and dynamic while doing research.

With respect to my internships, I often get a lot of LinkedIn message requests as to how to approach law firms for internships. Sometimes top-tier law firms have long internship procedures owing to the innumerable number of internship applications they receive. This is where some people often miss out owing to technicalities, but that does not mean you lose hope and give up. Try for unconventional modes of applying for internships. Sometimes you can reach out to the partner of a law firm, under whom you want to do the internship. Yes, not always will you get a reply back from them, owing to their immensely packed schedules and limited bandwidth, but when they see your CV or the urge you display to learn, they might accept your request for internship. Therefore, never hesitate to reach out to people. Do not hold back thinking what the other person might perceive of you? It is a very competitive world and you should access all your avenues to reach your goal. People appreciate dynamism, make sure you make the most out of it.

I have often come across this question from non-NLU students, as to whether I faced problems coming from a non-NLU law school.  Well, honestly, although I believe such a phenomenon still exists at certain law firms, but speaking from first-hand experience, I have never faced any such problem or discrimination at least in Trilegal. I cannot comment on law firms where I have never interned at, but one thing I can surely say is that Trilegal is a very cosmopolitan place to work at, where you are assessed on the basis of your work and merit and not your law school name, and this is something which I really love and appreciate about Trilegal. At the end of the day you are a lawyer and you will not showcase to the client which law school you come from, rather you showcase the kind of work you can deliver. Therefore, as far as Trilegal goes, it is a wonderful place to intern and work at.

6. With that then why do not you share with us your experience at Trilegal in aspects of learning, then getting that pre-placement offer (PPO) and now working as an associate?

First of all, I have just been in this professional world for 6-7 months now, so I am very new and  have made small or big errors over time, but thankfully the competition team at Trilegal has always been very helpful. In this team headed by Ms Nisha Kaur Uberoi, we are given an all-round exposure to all kinds of competition law matters, so that right from the very first year we are aware of the minutest of specifics and nuances of the competition practice. Another really wonderful aspect about the team is that, even as the juniormost member of the team, I am treated as a legitimate member of the team and even my opinion as an A-O, on a particular proposition is asked for and appreciated, which not only makes me learn but also gives me the comfort of being a team player. Therefore, on the whole it has indeed been a learning experience for me not only as a young lawyer but also as an individual as a whole. Every day so far, has been a learning curve for me, and the team here at all levels, have really made it a point that all my doubts, dilemmas and questions are answered and clarified, which has really helped me grow immensely over the past few months.

7. You have been working with competition law in different roles (as an intern and now as an associate) for quite some time now, so what do you think are the predominant changes or challenges with respect to the competition law regime in India and what it is going to see in the next decade?

Competition law in India is still very new, niche and ever-changing. Most of the principles have been adopted from the European competition regime and the US antitrust regime, and till date the law has very much been evolving with changing market dynamics and new markets. One of the most awaited changes in the competition law space in India, is that of the introduction of the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which has proposed certain amendments to the present law in force.

Another likely change within the regime is the introduction of deal-value thresholds, which was also pointed out in the Competition Law Review Committee Report of 2019. With the emergence of new data-driven markets, competition regulators across the globe have been proposing for these deal-value thresholds to be implemented, to effectively examine and assess transactions which ordinarily do not breach the notifiability thresholds in place, but have the capability to cause market disruptions in the future. Also, in the recent past, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has published market study reports pertaining to the e-commerce, telecommunication and pharmaceutical sectors. Very recently, the CCI has also come up with a market study report pertaining to the blockchain space. Therefore, going forward, more sector-specific market studies are likely to be introduced as guidance notes for stakeholders and consumers.

8. Any advice, for the law students who are at the inceptive part of their journey?

Treat your 5 years at law school like a 5-day test match. Your day 1 is to learn how to read the law, your day 2 is to learn how to research, your day 3 is to learn how to analyse the law, your day 4 is to learn how to apply the law in practice, and your day 5 is to learn how to keep yourself informed and updated about the evolving laws. You may lose a particular session on a particular day, but do not give up, keep at it, recover the shortcomings in the subsequent sessions and never lose hope.

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