In conversation with Rohit Jain on his journey as a lawyer and compliance professional

Rohit Jain is a qualified lawyer, Company Secretary and an MBA finance postgraduate with a total cross-domain experience of more than 7 years. Previously he has worked as a journalist for law and policy matters in BloombergQuint. He has also worked as a Counsel and Company Secretary in Deloitte Consulting India Pvt. Ltd., part of the Deloitte US India offices. He is a voracious reader and has a multitude of experience in banking, legal, advisory, corporate secretarial sector.

He has been interviewed by EBC-SCC Online Ambassador, Shreya Agrawal, who is currently a final year student pursuing law from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies.

  1. Tell us about your journey. Looking at your career trajectory, you have tried and tested, experimented varied career roles. How did you navigate through your career path?

First of all thank you for this opportunity. It is a pleasure for me to be featured in the series of interviews on your website.

 

I think the phrase “variety is the spice of life” would be a best way to describe my career trajectory till now. This is because I always wanted to be an “expert generalist” rather than specialising in a particular field. I am not sure whether this is the best path that anyone must follow, but I have enjoyed every moment of it. Working in different domains has helped me in understanding the nuances of how different businesses operate. And this could not have been possible without the love and support of my late father who always encouraged to follow the career path of my choice.

 

I started my career with a short stint in private banking which was the hottest sector in 2012 – the year I completed my MBA with a specialisation in finance. I was working as an Assistant Manager in a leading private bank, where my work involved retail banking and credit operations.

 

Post this, I appeared for the Company Secretary executive and professional exams in 2013-2014 and cleared them in first go. This provided a new impetus to my career and I joined the Deloitte US India entities in 2014, initially as a CS management trainee and was later absorbed as a legal counsel in the company’s office of general counsel. My work profile was a mix of legal, advisory, corporate secretarial and risk management functions – the typical in-house counsel role. This was a fulfilling five-year stint which shaped me as a person that I am today.

 

I joined BloombergQuint’s Mumbai office as a legal correspondent in 2019, writing on corporate, insolvency, securities, and taxation laws. This provided me an opportunity to interact with some of the best lawyers in the country and attend hearings at the Bombay High Court, National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the Securities Appellate Tribunal.

 

At present, I am working as an Account Director in the Strategic Communications team of Adfactors PR, India’s largest and youngest public relations firm.

 

  1. How has your experience shaped you into the professional you are today? What are your learnings and how is it helping in your present role?

I am an academically inclined person who loves to read and assimilate knowledge on everything under the sun. While this was helpful throughout my academic journey, it has played an even profound role in shaping my career trajectory.

The banking stint acquainted me with the rules and regulations of RBI, which encouraged my shift towards law and compliance. The role of in-house counsel involves a lot of reading, drafting and advisory work which enhanced my communication skills and shaped my move into the world of journalism. And the experience of simplifying complex things and understanding how court and media works helped me in getting into my present position.

 

To put it in a nutshell, a strong memory and a zeal for learning something new has brought me where I am today. At any point, a career is a sum total of all the past experiences and mine is exactly that. It has made me more humble, approachable, helping and compassionate towards the one who are in need of help or guidance.

 

  1. Most law students are confused about what they want to pursue further in life. You have personally completed BCA, MBA, Law, Company Secretary, worked as a journalist and are a qualified lecturer in universities. Having such a wide experience in a variety of fields, can you please tell us how should a student work through the confusion and set to a particular path?

To be honest, this is a tricky question and there is no straightjacket answer to it. While having multiple qualifications must be seen as a sign of merit and achievement, there are some interviewers/HR professionals who may perceive it as a sign of confusion or even lack of concentration. To share an anecdote, I have been confronted with such questions in some of the interviews that I have appeared in the past. And believe me, there is no perfect answer to such preconceived notions.

In my opinion, there are only a few who know exactly what they want to do in their life ahead. At least in my case, my academic decisions were a mix of both – personal choice and what was trending in the market. For instance, being from a small town, my admission to bachelors in computer applications was a result of my liking for technology coupled with the red hot IT sector which was a sure shot way to get a good job right after graduation.

With reference to my qualifications, I think law students who have an inclination towards corporate law must pursue the Company Secretary course simultaneously.

A degree in MBA from a leading institution is a good option for Chartered Accountants or for the matter, any working profession who wants to advance into management positions. MBA must generally be pursued after you gain a sizeable work experience.

While deciding on further education, one should always be aware of the opportunity cost – the salary foregone to pursue the degree – once you have completed your graduation. One year of work experience is much more valuable than one year of education once you have graduated. However, there are always exceptions.

Those trying for government jobs must pursue the opportunity simultaneously while working. For instance, I managed to clear the State and national eligibility test for lecturers along with my work in Deloitte.

  1. You have worked as a Legal Correspondent. The path from law to journalism sounds astounding and a variety of people want to make that jump but are unaware of the process. Can you tell us how a law student should prepare and make a career in the field of journalism?

Journalism is one of the most intellectually stimulating and satisfying career option that one can pursue. Law students who do not wish to jump into the bandwagon of law firms, litigation or corporate jobs immediately will find a good career choice in journalism. Media is broadly divided into two main categories – print and digital. Both of them require separate skill sets of their own.

 

The job of a legal journalist is to research, report and write on the matters of law, policy and governance. He/she must be familiar with the finer nuances of how the courts function and must have a good command over English or any other language. Explaining complex matters in a simple language while avoiding jargons is a prerequisite.

 

Additionally, a person must be familiar with deciphering the meaning and intent of amendment in various laws and regulations. On the other hand, a digital journalist may also be required to record links – short video feeds explaining various legal nuances.

 

To know what style of writing is being followed, a law student must read many articles and note down the flow of the content, the tone and language used, the diction, etc. One can start this journey by trying to summarise a judgment or an amendment in a simple manner. As a start, they can contribute content to various law journals, digital portals or blogs and check the feedback to see their readiness for the journalism sector.

 

  1. Can you tell us about the options a person has after MBA? Should a person pursue MBA in finance or Company Secretary in general if he wants to work in capital markets or private equity? Will an MBA help if a law student wants to work as a corporate lawyer? (What doors open after a person has done MBA with law?)

While many reports have alluded to the death of the MBA degree in the long term, I respectfully disagree. MBA still is the best option for graduates from different streams as there are plethora of tailor-made industrial specialisations. Many colleges have introduced MBA courses focussing on business analytics, data analytics, supply chain, family office management, entrepreneurship, etc. apart from the traditional modules.  Further, networking and collaboration in top notch MBA colleges helps you in the longer term.

 

As you have rightly pointed out, MBA is one of the most sought after degrees for people who want to enter the world of investment banking, private equity, management consulting, strategic management and the like.

 

The quality of MBA differs from institution to institution. It is always advisable to only do MBA from the so-called top-tier colleges as they offer better education and placement opportunities. Top notch companies only prefer doing campus hiring from selected colleges and nowhere else. Sadly, some affiliated colleges and State-run universities suffer from lack of good faculty, lack better infrastructure and lag on the placement front. Hence pursuing MBA from such places may be postponed or avoided if you target to work in the topmost companies.

 

An LLB degree is more than enough to get a job as a corporate lawyer, I do not think that an MBA is a prerequisite for gaining entry into this field, although it may add value to the CV. Same applies for entry into capital markets/private equity as a lawyer.  However, there are new roles like legal strategy, business development, knowledge management, etc. where an MBA degree will come in handy.

 

Many Fortune-500 companies are led by CEOs who have a legal as well as management degree. It all depends on the prevailing market position at a time.

 

  1. What advice would you like to give students graduating in post-Covid era where students are anxious about their chosen carrier paths? What according to you should be the skill set that students should adapt to in the post-Covid workspaces?

To be honest, I personally feel that the fear of a radical change in post-Covid world is somewhat overblown. Our present state is a result of more than 4500 years of civilisation characterised by social living and an urban society. Hence, things will return to pre-Covid stage shortly if not immediately.

 

Insofar as the job market is concerned, we have different set of challenges. The influx of technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning and digital disruption has upended many prevailing notions in the society. I think we should be more equipped to deal with that.

 

I think law students must focus on what they have been good at – which is reading, arguing, drafting and advocacy skill. They must become familiar with some of the digital tools as our judiciary is slowly progressing towards a future characterised by it. They must also familiarise themselves with industry knowhow, trade practices and management skills.

 

  1. You are generally seen posting latest legal updates and research areas on your LinkedIn handle. How important is doing proper legal research and how should law students equip themselves with legal research skills?

Legal research is a prerequisite for law students. I feel very happy to see that many law students equally track the national and international legal developments equally well. The advent of laws like  General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)  which have cross-border implications has piqued the interest of many Indian law students as well. Many of them pursue Bar exams in foreign countries as well.

Law students must try to balance both quantity and quality when they conduct a particular research. Research is not rocket science. It requires a mix of concentration and application of knowledge. Reading random judgments can help law students in their first/second year because it helps in building a legal mindset – after all, the content in a judgment is equally important as legal theory taught in the law school.

The trend of webinars has also proliferated during the Covid-19 era. There are so many good webinars where one can learn from the leading partners and luminaries in the legal field. Attending webinars, noting key points and contributing to the discussion by asking right questions will benefit law students immensely.

 

  1. Any advice you would like to give to the readers of SCC blog?

The outbreak of Covid-19 has taught us the importance of family, relations, friendship and societal well-being.  Try maintaining a work-life balance, speak with and help your family members, friends and relatives especially in their times of hardship and need. Always have an open mind. And last but not the least, keep learning.

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