Ms. Achint Kaur is an Of-Counsel with the corporate and commercial practice group at Khaitan & Co., NCR Region. She is an alumnus of Campus Law Centre, Delhi and has an MBA from IIM, Kolkata to her credit. She is also accredited as an Advanced Practitioner at the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management.
She has been interviewed by Kalpalathikaa M, EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador, who is currently pursuing law from SLS,Hyderabad.
To begin with, please tell us something about yourself, your journey in the profession and your early years with our readers.
With almost two decades of experience, what makes my journey distinct from my compatriots is excellence in the entire gamut of legal domains, from law firms to in-house corporates, litigation, outsourcing business to pro bono work. Having an incessant zest for life, I work with a solution-oriented approach. In this ever-evolving, post-COVID era, innovation is a key constituent to stay relevant, coupled with legal excellence and commercial business acumen. Despite having over a dozen degrees, diplomas, and certifications, it is this ceaseless zeal to learn, excel and the burning desire to always continue growing as a professional in every sphere, that differentiates my voyage.
It is important to never become complacent, continue to redefine the contours of one’s path and work towards new horizons with renewed enthusiasm. Have a never give in spirit, always strive for excellence in all you do, whether on the professional, personal, or pro bono spheres, setting higher benchmarks to attain for oneself, to contribute towards your organisation, nation, and society at large.
How did your law school experience shape you? Please also share your interests and motivations. How did it help you navigate your career path?
Right from my Campus Law Centre days, my diverse interests propelled me to hone varied facets of my personality. From being an active student attending all the classes, to enthusiastically partaking in national level moot courts, working at the beggars’ courts and the Tihar Jail project. I prepared for civil services, interned, and worked alongside college. My law school experience was governed by my growth mindset backed by a learning continuum wanting to get better, by acquiring new skills, and absorbing nuances. These motivations have been my guiding force throughout my career and professional journey.
Your career proves that you are a “jack of all trades” in the legal profession. What prompted you to specialise in the corporate field? Do you think it is important to have some specialisation or should there be generalist approach?
It is important to work in different domains, to assess your core interests, strengths, and competencies. Just like the strength of any organisation lies in a vibrant team, similarly it is always good for a professional to have a broad-based knowledge of different aspects of law. Nevertheless, due to myriad, dynamic and ever-evolving aspects of law, it is important to specialise in a few domains and expand the same going forward. Since my core interests lay in corporate law, contracts and commercial management, (whether as an in-house or in a law firm), I accordingly charted the path.
Always remember that success is not accomplishing a definite milestone but the incessant zeal to continually hone one’s skills and improve professionally and personally, so even if you specialise in a few fields, you must sharpen your skills and remain up to speed with the latest developments.
Can you tell us about your advanced practitioner level at International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) accreditation and its relevance in the field?
Contracts and commercial management run through the fabric of every corporate, law firm and organisational work. IACCM, prepares you to develop an eye for the finer drafting aspects. By basing the course on learnings from actual negotiation tips, the course remains current and provides a unique perspective on common clauses and relevant topics. This knowledge is to be read in conjunction with the hands-on learning which comes from working on different kinds of contracts, since each contract would have its own unique nuances.
Describe a challenge that you faced during your career. How did you overcome it?
It is all about one’s attitude, I do not look at challenges as a stumbling block, but as an opportunity to learn and grow. Just like success is not final, failures are also not fatal. What counts is the courage to continue. Knowing that overcoming hardships are a part of one’s process of advancement, face every challenge with an enthusiastic fervour. Never let any hurdles weaken your resolve, as life is all about reinvention and renewal, quintessentially the process of pushing us past our limiting beliefs and behaviour.
Can you tell us about an interesting case you have worked on?
Let me tell you about a situation faced early on in my career. Around 15 years back, we were over 500 lawyers preparing a legal research tool for Bloomberg, analysing million of US case laws. During that time, I was doing detailed research understanding different facets of the blue sky laws and thoroughly researching different US laws. One of my colleagues told me that our work does not require such in-depth analysis, however this is my innate work ethic, so I continued. Later it was noticed that my thorough knowledge helped in the management selecting me out of all the 500 lawyers to do a comparative market study and gave the presentation to the CEO. So always learn that diligence and knowledge gained never goes in vain.
What is your expectation from interns and fresh graduates who are looking to work in the corporate field?
Understanding the importance of teamwork, you must realise that while working in tandem, we all rise in unison by lifting others. A team sails seamlessly when its members surrender “me” to “we” and collaboratively work towards a shared vision. During your professional journey, you must not ever lose sight of your goals, thus chart new paths backed by a yearning to learn and relentlessly sharpening one’s saw, as that is the only way to remain ahead of the curve and pave the way towards greater echelons of success.
Not many people are familiar with the concept “exhaustion of research”. What are your views on it?
It is common that research scholars when they do not see any further tangible results from their research activities, they may be overwhelmed or consider exhaustion of research, however in this scenario, it is always good to take a break and consider the questions and issues at hand from different perspectives and develop a multi-pronged research strategy. I firmly believe that research should not just be about enhancing knowledge base but the act of engaging in research must be transformative for those engaged in the research.
What is your advice to law students in a post-COVID era, where students are anxious about choosing a career path?
Unlike other professions, the legal profession has multifarious avenues, from every corporate, government, regulatory bodies to United Nations and international organisations, outsourcing work, over and above our law firms and litigation work spanning over myriad ever-evolving legal domains. The legal profession weathers downturns better than the overall economy due to its countercyclical practice areas continuing to flourish in conflicting times. COVID imparts learnings to prepare for unprecedented scenarios. It has propelled law into the digital age and reshaped its landscape. Entire legal ecosystem is affected, right from consumers, providers, academy/and the judicial system. Remote virtual workforce and distance learning are only a tip of the iceberg. We must have an adaptive mindset with rapid adjustment to new operating procedures.
COVID has demonstrated that education is a process, not limited to a location. It is a lifelong process in a world where competency and agility are as prized as degrees.
We need to focus on high demand sectors. There is an upsurge in litigation, restructuring, supplier disputes, government compliance, regulatory, IPR, force majeure, labour and employment, refinancing, contractual interpretations, and nuanced negotiations. Client demands change, with pressures on pricing and regulatory changes, the customers have a sustainability focus.
Prepare to weather future “black swan” events while coming out healthier and in a better economic position. This “new normal” requires improved skills for working from home or in office with as much ease and efficiency with digital technology. Each crisis brings with it learnings, and the silver lining of COVID has been to bring people together on common platforms and finding new ways to connect, while continuing to increase productivity on both professional and personal fronts.
Remember just like work, life will throw infinite challenges, but with an innovative, solution-oriented approach, positive attitude, and a commitment to excel, we can always find myriad solutions, paving the path to success.
Is there anything that you would like to share with the readers of SCC Online?
While learning is the process of developing one’s capacity and steering our career towards a shared vision, to achieve desired results, however, in life’s journey, the yardstick of true achievement is what we become by absorbing and implementing the knowledge gained, based upon a continuous yearning to learn through self-improvement.
In this context accept change as part of the evolution process, but more importantly understand that life is about strengthening existing bonds, forging new alliances while brainstorming innovative solutions with perceptive ingenuity, and ensuring that all our human relations are laced with mutual trust and reciprocity.