Pritha Jha graduated in 2007 and worked with Desai Diwanji and DSK Legal. In this interview, she speaks about her career path in Private Equity and M&A Practice and being ranked under top 25 emerging leaders by RSG India Reports in 2019.
This interview has been conducted by Richa Bhandari, EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing law from UPES, Dehardun.
- To begin with, if I may request you to please share with our readers something about yourself, and Pioneer Legal.
I graduated from law school in the year 2007. I worked briefly thereafter with Desai Diwanji, moved on to DSK Legal where I worked for almost a decade and then decided to move away to help set up Pioneer Legal. Pioneer Legal was set up in 2019 with a vision of a firm built for the future. Delivering high quality work and putting our clients first is a given, but we are the only law firm in the country that has a happiness policy (Happiness Policy – Pioneer Legal) which focuses on the well-being of our people. The pandemic has made it difficult for us to achieve all the goals we set out to achieve in the first 2 years, but we remain committed to our ethos.
- As a large percentage of our readers are currently students of law, I would like to jog your memory back to almost over a decade ago. Would you please tell us about your law school life and what inspired you to pursue law?
As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a lawyer. This was mostly on account of many television series depicting courtroom drama that I fell in love with at a very young age. I was dissuaded by many from being a lawyer when I was a child since it was considered a profession for people who did not succeed at other attempted professions. I was also told it was a male-dominated profession. By the time I graduated however, law as a profession for the younger lot was booming. I have never looked back since.
As you can expect, I was considered one of the nerds of my batch, not that it ever bothered me. There are no stories to speak of from law school. I was considered quite boring.
- For anyone who is exploring the fields of private equity and mergers and acquisitions (M&A), you stand tall as a role model. Being recommended for 3 years for private equity, M&A and negotiations by RSG India Report to being conferred with the Legal Era “40 under 40” Rising Star award in the year 2018 and then finally being selected as one of the top 25 emerging leaders poised to change the legal industry in India by RSG India Report in 2019, you have certainly made your mark in the world of corporate law. What would be your advice to young aspirants?
I have never considered myself a role model. I still do not. The things that I have achieved, have been achieved as a part of a long, arduous and back breaking journey. I did not set out to achieve these things, they have just happened to come my way. Despite what people believe, I can name at least a dozen peers who do not have these recommendations/awards and who are better professionals and better lawyers than I am, and who to my mind, are more deserving of these awards. I am not afraid to admit it. My advice is to not get caught up in peer pressure. Choose your path and stick with it. The journey, and how you deal with it, is more important than the destination. That will ultimately determine your success.
- 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 you might like to share with our readers?
Knowledge is defined differently depending on your experience in the profession. As a student, knowledge is restricted to knowing the law and the amendments to it. This is easier to access. Higher up it means industry insight, which can be gained only if you talk to people in the relevant industry. Higher still, it means having sufficient experience. At each level, having the knowledge expected from you is important. It is what sets you apart from the others at the same level.
- 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?
At some point in time in our lives, we have all complained about it, myself included. If you are a lawyer, there will be days, weeks or months when it seems impossible to achieve. At Pioneer Legal, I would like to believe that we are doing better than most. Sure, there are days when we get by on no more than 4 hours of sleep, but those days are expected when you work as a lawyer. There can never be balance 24/7. It is a life we have chosen for ourselves, and choices do not come without consequence. It is not for everyone, and not expected to be. If it does not work for you, you have the right to choose differently. You will never have the “perfect workplace”.