Ms. Shruti Jain works at Saikrishna and Associates as a Senior Associate (Litigation) and a patent agent. Additionally, she was employed by the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit (LCHAU) in New Delhi, India, as a Legal Officer. She graduated with honours from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, an LLB from Banaras Hindu University, and an LLM from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Her areas of interest in study are child rights, access to medications, and intellectual property.

1. To begin with, please share with our readers something about yourself, your journey and your early years in this profession.

Born and raised in Delhi, with a businessman father and a homemaker mother, my journey into the legal profession has been a rewarding adventure thus far, marked by diverse experiences and invaluable lessons. I graduated as a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry Hons. from Delhi University, before experiencing my passion for law and earning my Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Banaras Hindu University. I believe that I inherited this passion for law, from my grandfather who transitioned from a Deputy Collector to a full-time practising lawyer in Delhi after his retirement.

To further enrich my legal education, I pursued a Master of Laws (LLM) degree at the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, where I gained exposure to the implication of legal framework and its societal implications. Upon completing my education, I began my professional journey under the guidance of Mr Anand Grover, a distinguished Senior Advocate and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. Working under his guidance, I gained practical insights into patent law and its staggering implications on the healthcare sector especially for the vulnerable communities.

Subsequently, I transitioned my career to Saikrishna and Associates, a Tier 1 law firm. Here, amidst a supportive network of mentors and colleagues, I continue to expand my knowledge and expertise in patent law and other fields of intellectual property rights (IPR). In 2022, I qualified as a patent agent and also completed an Advanced Diploma in Patents Law from NALSAR University of Law to continue my learning journey.

2. How did your law school experience shape you to what you are today?

My journey into law was profoundly influenced not only by my legal education but also by my background in science. While studying at Banaras Hindu University, I vividly recall a moment in Mr Rajneesh Singh’s patent law class. As one of the few students with a science background in a class predominantly occupied by commerce and arts graduates, I keenly felt the disproportionality. Mr Singh’s insightful discussion on the untapped potential of patent law with science background in India struck a chord with me. His words not only enlightened me about the rising opportunities in the field of patent law but also ignited a passion within me. Subsequently, fuelled by this enthusiasm, my uncle, Dr D.D. Agarwal, an esteemed Professor of Chemistry, helped me in laying foundation for my eventual transition into the field.

Reflecting on my time at my alma maters, I realise that it was not just the academic curriculum that shaped my journey. The invaluable mentorship provided by faculty members, coupled with practical experiences such as participating in legal aid clinics in BHU and learning through field works and projects based on practical knowledge in TISS enriched my understanding of various legal domains and honed my litigation skills. These experiences also made me discover my passion towards legal aid and causes of social justice.

3. How has your journey been so far, being a student belonging from a science background and changing it to a completely different field of law.

The transition from a science background to the field of law is often perceived as unconventional, but for me, it felt like a natural evolution. Both science and law have consistently piqued my curiosity, prompting me to explore their intersections in my professional journey. Today, I find myself immersed in diverse cases, ranging from pharmaceuticals, mechanical and agrochemicals, and from technical patents involving chemistry, physics to computer science.

As we witness the rise of standard essential patents (SEP) disputes and the need for regulating artificial intelligence as the next legal behemoths to be tamed, it becomes evident that the legal landscape will have to evolve accordingly. Governments worldwide are increasingly focused on regulating these upcoming fields including the areas of blockchain, data privacy, deep fakes, etc., presenting numerous opportunities where an understanding of both science and law will be essential for effective governance and regulation.

Reflecting on my own experience, I encourage aspiring students to consider this path, reassuring them that they need not abandon their passion for science to pursue a career in law. Instead, they can leverage their scientific background to bring a unique perspective to the legal profession, contributing meaningfully to this ever-evolving field.

4. You primarily practise commercial litigation. In your opinion, when is it ideal to decode specialisation or career path as a law student? What are the traits that one should develop to be a successful litigator such as yourself?

I still consider myself to be a budding litigator striving to achieve the level of learning and success that I personally aspire to, however, to advise law students on navigating their career paths, I emphasise two key points. Firstly, the significance of acquiring diverse experience in civil, criminal, and commercial law fields during the beginning of their professional journeys. I would advise students to explore various other avenues and legal fields during their college years, whether through legal clinics or internships, to discover their true passions and strengths within the legal field.

While theoretical learnings and initial preferences may lean towards a specific specialty, genuine alignment with interests and abilities can only be gauged through practical experience, and it is only after this understanding and process of self-discovery that one should venture out towards specialised areas of law.

Secondly, I advocate for the acquisition of hands-on experience in legal aspects such as drafting, research, and advocacy right from the initial years of practice. The journey to become a successful litigator is long and demanding. It is only with a continued effort to better yourself each day and by continuing on the learning path that one can excel in the field of litigation.

5. What experiences shaped your interests into the area you are practising currently?

As I indicated earlier, the key to learning is through first-hand experience in any field. I commenced my professional journey under the guidance of Senior Advocate Anand Grover, renowned for his advocacy in facilitating access to essential drugs for patients afflicted with HIV, tuberculosis, etc. Coming from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, my initial inclination was towards social causes that aligned seamlessly with Mr Grover’s work. When I started working with him, I delved into the intricacies of doing prosecution as well as litigation for patent cases within the pharmaceutical sector where both my science and law degrees helped me.

Subsequently, through my role in Saikrishna & Associates, I have also had the opportunity to practise patent law relating to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and thus, supporting innovation in all fields of life. These varied experiences coupled with the learnings that I have received from my seniors and mentors like Mr Grover, Mr Saikrishna Rajagopal and Ms Sneha Jain has further helped to pique my interest in the field of not only patent law but intellectual property laws as a whole.

6. What key skills and experience do you believe are essential for success in the role of a patent attorney, and how have you demonstrated or developed these qualities in your work.

Patent law is a dynamic field, continually shaped by technological and scientific advancements and legal interpretations. To excel as a patent attorney, one must stay updated on global developments in diverse fields. Understanding the law and the workings of inventions and innovations, coupled with effective analytical skills, is essential. Moreover, expertise in drafting legal documents, whether it involves patent applications or legal arguments for court proceedings, is indispensable. Lastly, building a strong network of professionals not only from the legal industry but from diverse backgrounds helps in enhancing knowledge and problem-solving abilities.

7. How do you stay informed about the latest developments in patent laws and regulations, and how do you ensure your knowledge is up-to-date in this rapidly evolving field.

The field of patent law is experiencing rapid growth and change not only in India but globally, with new judgments emerging to shape the patent jurisprudence. Staying informed is paramount. While keeping a tab on all global updates is not possible, I rely on certain domestic and global IP and patent law blogs to be aware about the recent developments. A diverse network on LinkedIn where connections frequently share valuable insights coupled with discussions on recent updates, along with Indian law reporting platforms like SCC OnLine, LiveLaw and Bar and Bench are also helpful in relation to recent Indian judgments. Additionally, I am also thankful to my firm for fostering an environment where we actively discuss emerging matters and strive to integrate them into our drafting processes. We collaborate to prepare from resources like Saikrishna and Associates’ newsletter, LawPickle, LinkedIn updates on the firm’s official page which offers regular insights into new judgments, laws and regulations.

8. As your LLM dissertation was related to Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, how does patent law, pharmaceutical regulations, and policies regarding the rights of persons with disabilities intersect?

The intersection of patent law, pharmaceutical regulations and policies not only affects the segment of persons with disability but has a broader impact on the marginalised and health affected sectors of the community as a whole. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the intersection of patent law, pharmaceutical regulations, and policies regarding the rights of persons with disabilities became particularly prominent to me. I had the opportunity to engage deeply in this intersection while collaborating with Mr Anand Grover. Together, we participated in advocacy efforts aimed at ensuring equitable access to vaccines and medications, especially for individuals facing barriers due to disabilities or underlying health conditions.

Throughout this experience, it became evident that numerous organisations were tirelessly working on the ground to assist those in need. However, it also highlighted the complexities inherent in navigating patent law within the pharmaceutical sector. While patents are crucial for incentivising innovation and investment in new treatments, they can also create barriers to access when they restrict the availability of essential medications.

This balance between promoting innovation and ensuring access to medicines is crucial, particularly in the context of vulnerable populations like persons with disabilities and the marginalised sections of the society. It is essential to prevent the misuse of patent rights, which can hinder access to life-saving treatments under the guise of progress. Instead, a system should be created to encourage innovation while safeguarding the rights and well-being of all individuals, especially those who are most marginalised.

9. With your completion of both undergraduate and graduate studies, coupled with your extensive experience in the industry, could you please elaborate to our readers the significance of understanding the exhaustion of research?

Absolutely. We are fortunate to live in an era where search engines and software like SCC OnLine (or similar legal databases) make accessing case law and research incredibly convenient. Gone are the days of flipping through physical AIR books to find that one perfect case for our argument. Now, it is just a click away. Staying current with new case laws, and legal developments is easier than ever. When used effectively, these tools are a game-changer. Students especially benefit from learning how to utilise them to their fullest potential. In an environment where everyone has access to the same textbooks and resources, what sets individuals apart is their commitment to self-research and staying updated which as a lawyer is super important.

10. Is there anything you would like to share with our readers and researchers of SCC OnLine?

Embracing the full potential of SCC OnLine can significantly enhance your knowledge, whether you are a student or a practising counsel in court. The research skills and insights gained from using it are invaluable and applicable across various legal context.

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