Mr Harshit Dusad is a Senior Associate at JSA, Gurugram office. A part of JSA’s reputed banking and finance practice, he is a transactional lawyer experienced in INR financing, regulatory finance and debt restructuring.

     He has been interviewed by Vanaj Vidyan, EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing law from RMLNLU.

1. Please introduce yourself to your readers. What was your motivation behind choosing law? At what juncture did you decide to join the corporate set-up?

Introducing oneself is a herculean task. However, I will give it a try. I am a transactional lawyer, currently working as a Senior Associate at JSA, Gurugram office. I did my graduation [BBA LLB (Hons.)] from the NorthCap University, Gurugram (formerly ITM University, Gurgaon). My area of practice is banking and finance (transactional and advisory). I have represented various domestic and foreign banks, financial institutions, multilateral institutions, governments and corporates on their financing transactions and advisory matters.

I did my senior secondary in 2010 post which, I was pursuing Chartered Accountancy course. I studied commercial law as one of the courses at the IPCC level. It was at that time when I developed an inclination towards law. After this, I researched about law as a career option and started preparing for it.

I was fascinated by corporate life culture since my secondary year in school. Therefore, when I joined my law school, I was clear that I want to be a core transactional lawyer.

2. You graduated in 2016, and you are now a Senior Associate at one of India’s most prestigious firms. How would you rate your corporate journey? How did the diversity of working in different firms shape you?

Honestly, I cannot believe that it has been 6 years since I embarked upon this journey. It seems as if it was just a few days ago that I started working as a transactional lawyer. I joined JSA in August 2021. Prior to this I was working as a Senior Associate at Juris Corp, Delhi where I started as a trainee in 2016.

My professional life has been full of hard work and learning. Law is a demanding career and one has to be fully dedicated, if he/she wants to be successful in this area. So, I have not done anything extraordinary. However, the differentiating factor in my journey has been my mentors, who have guided me, told me about my mistakes and shaped me into the lawyer that I am today. I am fortunate that I have been mentored by few of the leading banking lawyers of our country. They have personally trained me and have focused on strengthening my basics. Even today when I am working on an arduous transaction, I ensure to stick to those basics. This trick has worked for me every single time.

3. How and when did you finalise banking and finance to be your niche?

For me, banking and finance was merely “luck by chance”. Initially, I wanted to pursue my career in mergers and acquisitions. However, during my final semester, I got an opportunity to work in the banking and finance team at Juris Corp, as a trainee. I had no idea about the work that banking and finance lawyers do, but I decided to give it a try.

Today, I am really glad that I took that opportunity. I would like to take this platform to thank all my mentors, both at Juris Corp as well as JSA, who have been constantly supporting and guiding me since the early days of my career.

4. You have a profoundly diverse experience in banking, including debt restructuring and interbank borrowings. As an expert in the field of banking, what is your view on the recently established bad banks – the NARCL and the IDRCL. In your opinion, is this new framework sufficient to tackle the rising NPAs, or do these institutions leave a lot to be desired?

While bad banks are new to India, however, this concept was first seen in the 1980s in the US. Since then, various countries have adopted this concept to tackle the stressed accounts in their respective jurisdictions.

As for India, this concept has been adopted by way of a 2-tier structure where National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL) – which is an asset reconstruction company and India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. (IDRCL) – which is an asset management company, have been set up. NARCL is bestowed with the responsibility of acquiring bad loans while IDRCL is responsible for managing these bad loans.

While this structure looks promising, however, this is still under an initial phase. Therefore, it is too early to comment on whether these entities will answer India’s NPA issues. The success of NARCL-IDRCL will depend on various factors, such as pricing of bad loans, involvement of public sector banks and investors as well as customers, independent and professional management of the new entity, capitalisation of these bad banks, etc.

5. How do you think the pandemic has affected the working of corporate lawyers especially regarding the banking sector?

Just like all other professionals, lawyers have also been impacted by the pandemic. It was perceived that a lawyer’s job starts and ends in his office. However, the pandemic shown us that in this digital era, a lawyer’s office is his laptop/tablet computer, with an internet connection. A lawyer, whether a corporate lawyer or a litigating lawyer, can work from anywhere around the globe. Therefore, even now when the adverse impact of the pandemic has reduced, the technology learnt and adopted during the pandemic time has led us to a hybrid style of working. This has provided us with the much required flexibility and has helped in maintaining a work-life balance.

As regards the banking sector, we have witnessed a substantial increase in the volume of transactions. Due to the pandemic, companies were in a need of money (either for their working capital requirements or for their expansion) and banks were offering them the same at attractive interest rates due to the RBI’s policies. This was a one-time win-win situation for both banks as well as the borrowers. As a result of this, our working hours had also increased.

6. Your interests also go beyond corporate law – you are a proficient photographer, chef, and poet. How important do you think it is for those in demanding professions such as yourself, to be involved in recreational activities and hobbies?

Recreational activities and hobbies play a pivotal role in everyone’s life, especially for a professional like a lawyer. It not only provides a breathing space or reducing stress but it also helps in developing soft skills such as personality development, boosting self-confidence, enhancing creativity, networking and what not.

This also leads to job satisfaction and a better work performance. Therefore, in my personal opinion, it is crucial for every individual to devote time towards their hobbies and recreational activities.

7. Research is required at every stage in legal life. In this context, what does “exhaustion of research” mean to you?

It has been rightly said by the great Nobel Prize laureate, Mr Albert Szent-Györgyi, “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” I diligently follow these golden words and try to apply them every day in my professional life.

As with the case with any lawyer, research is important and without a proper research exercise, a lawyer cannot work on his/her matters. I am no different and this rule applies to me as well. Prior to starting work on any transaction, I ensure that I am reading the correct and updated legal framework. Further, I also check precedents (whether judicial or transactional) on the subject-matter. In case there is any complicated issue involved, I make sure that I discuss it with my senior. Only after I can sense a clear picture in my mind, I start my work on a transaction. Therefore, for me, “exhaustion of research” means that I should be able to visualise the transaction, subject to the requirements and limitations stipulated under the applicable legal framework.

8. What advice would you give our readers who are young lawyers and law students on what they should and should not do, in order to succeed in the legal profession?

Reading plays a crucial role in defining our career. Therefore, we should never be afraid of reading and researching. It is today that we have so many specialised fields in law, but just few decades back, a lawyer used to advise on each and every law, whether it may be civil, criminal, commercial or corporate. The simple reason behind this is the reading exercise of those lawyers. We all should learn from this and read as much as possible.

Further, I would also advise that we should be clear on our basics. A lawyer cannot advise his clients or work on a case/transaction if his/her basic concepts are unclear Therefore, one should first focus on building concrete basics, rather than just starting to work on cases/transactions.

9. On a lighter concluding note, what would you have done if you were not a lawyer?

Had I been not a lawyer, I would have been an entrepreneur. Also, my parents tell me that I could have been a professional chef, so rather may be a chef, if not an entrepreneur.

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