In conversation with Amit Jamsandekar on his 23 year old journey as an Independent counsel

Mr. Amit Jamsandekar is an Indian lawyer as well as a Solicitor of Supreme Court of England & Wales (non practising) currently practicing as an independent counsel at the Bombay High Court and his areas of practice and expertise include IP Laws, Commercial Laws and Arbitration and Conciliation. His journey of being graduated from the University of Mumbai to a Master’s degree from one of the leading law schools in the UK, at the University of Cardiff, and from considering farming as a future to being among a select group of counsels litigating in intellectual property in India, has been nothing but endearing for young law professionals.

He has been interviewed by Richa Bhandari , EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing BBA LLB (Hons.) from University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun.

 

  1. To begin with, if I may request you to please share with our readers something about yourself, and your 23-year old journey as an independent counsel as well as a Solicitor of Supreme Court of England and Wales (non-practicing).

From graduation in rural development from a college in the hinterland of Maharashtra to a master’s degree from one of the leading law schools in the UK, at the University of Cardiff, and from considering farming as a future to being among a select group of counsels litigating in intellectual property in India, my journey has been quite serendipitous. Since I come from a family that does not have any background in the legal field, it was not a planned course. My decision to focus on intellectual property as a specialty in my counsel practice as a commercial and corporate litigator was timely since the Indian corporate environment was just starting to become sensitive to such matters then. Due to my early start in this direction, I have had the privilege of seeing intellectual property (IP) law evolve right before my eyes, and also to contribute to the discipline through my practice, research, publications, and as a visiting faculty at law schools and educational institutions.

 

  1. As a large percentage of our readers are currently students of law, I would like to jog your memory back to almost over two decades ago. Would you please tell us about your law school life and what inspired you to pursue law?

Law school, in those early days of Indian economic liberalisation, was a time for broadening exposure and horizons. This meant that as much, if not more, legal education was sought from outside the school as from within. Students eager to join the profession would join law firms or chambers of senior advocates to work as apprentices, often without any stipend. Through observation of the senior lawyers around them, they would learn about the rigour and nuances of the profession. The concept of the transactional lawyer, which is quite popular today, was just evolving then. So the opportunity to apprentice with senior lawyers was our main window to the legal world in practice.

My inspiration to pursue law came from the personal experience of a lawsuit. I had the good fortune of, unknowingly, assisting a renowned local lawyer in my hometown with the case. As my interest in the proceedings increased, I sought more direction on how to go about gaining formal knowledge of the subject. And the rest, as they say, is history.

 

  1. I would not be putting it wrong, when I say that intellectual property as a field is pretty dynamic and while your qualifications precede you, I would like you to throw some light on your decision to pursue LLM as well as PhD in the same field.

In the Indian context, the field of IP is relatively new. The discipline, although it borrows heavily from the UK IP law, is evolving in a slightly different direction. Many concepts remain contentious depending on the interpretation one uses. Since the changes happen rapidly, it is important to stay abreast of the latest developments. As somebody who has seen the discipline emerge from its nascency, I am keen to be able to contribute to further research in this area. Yet, even today, there are few opportunities for formal research in IP in India. Hence, I decided to pursue a PhD in the UK, at the University of Leicester, as it also offers me the chance to keep up with international developments in the field and with new research methods.

 

  1. Keeping in line with the aforementioned question, there is a sudden rise in the field of IP which has grown drastically over the past few years. What would be your advice for law students who are developing their interest in the field of IP?

At a general level, students desirous of working in the field of IP should keep up with the developments in the world of business, science and research, where most of the intellectual assets are being created. At a specific level, students should study case law and blogs published in other jurisdictions on the subject to become aware of the evolving facets of IP law and practice areas on the subject.

 

  1. How much weightage would you give to proper legal research and the tools used for doing it? How should law students equip themselves with legal research skills? What do you do to maintain your extensive knowledge bank – any tips that might like to share with our readers?

The importance of research can never be underestimated in the legal process. The preparation for a case involves determining a strategy. But the strategy must be supported by thorough research. Such research usually begins with books, commentaries, precedents and case law. Tools should be used to filter out what is irrelevant. But to develop research skills, one must firstly develop one’s understanding of the type of core subject-matter to determine which perspective to use for research. And such understanding can be developed only by taking a keen interest in the subject-matter itself.

Personally, I first write down my research question so as to develop a specific answer. However, while carrying out research, I prefer to far read beyond the question and possibly everything that has been published on the issue.

 

  1. Over the five years of law school, the importance of publications is not emphasised enough. Being associated with various reputed journals, what would be your take on the same?

Putting down an idea in writing activates the thinking centre in the brain. As you delve deeper into an issue, the act of writing forces you to reflect on your words and evaluate  them carefully not only for imparting the accurate meaning that you wish to convey but also for creating the appropriate impact on the mind of the reader. This ability to convey a thought and influence the thinking of others is an important skill to develop for a lawyer.

Further, the legal profession is a vast ocean with several luminaries who have long standing experience and, hence, are very well known. For a relatively junior professional, getting published provides an opportunity to present their ideas on a larger platform and broader audience than the ones they may be exposed to in their regular work.

 

  1. Corporate lawyers are infamous for complaining about the lack of a work-life balance. What would be your take on the “work-life balance” complaint?

The need for a balance between work and life differs from person to person. The legal profession is not the only one known for tough timelines and long hours of work. I think that while the early years in this profession require a certain degree of dedication of time for learning and absorbing the finer aspects of work as a lawyer, over time, each person is able to find the balance that she/he is seeking. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this profession offers a great balance of structure and flexibility to allow each one to enjoy work as well as life.

 

  1. Lastly, with the ever-changing world around us, especially in times of the deadly pandemic, what would be your advice to young lawyers to help them secure internships and achieve their goals?

The pandemic has, no doubt, caused many disruptions in every sphere of life. But it has also opened up possibilities for working seamlessly across locations. Whereas earlier a candidate would be restricted to seeking internships within the city where (s)he lived or would have to be ready to relocate at least temporarily, today, they can seek an opportunity anywhere in the country and be able to participate and contribute virtually. The requirement for interns, in general, is at a similar level as earlier.

I would only add that they should keep their minds open to all varieties of subjects and firms, seek experiences and exposure of different kinds, and be willing to explore the legal landscape and system, be it in large law firms, or government offices, or subordinate courts, or in the chambers of trial lawyers.

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