Ms. Shubhi Sharma has significant practice experience of over 9 years in the field of Dispute Resolution and Corporate Law. While she has done substantial work in general litigation (original and appellate), her primary focus has been on regulatory practice in infrastructure and energy. She has successfully represented power and energy developers from various sectors in petitions challenging the specific action. She has appeared before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and the Hon’ble High Courts in matters relating to constitutional law. She is adept at drafting and vetting agreements and deeds.
1. Thank you for accepting our invitation to be a guest on the legal chat series hosted by Nyayshastram. We are privileged to have you share your knowledge and expertise with our esteemed readers. I request you to introduce yourself to our readers?
Response: Thank you for this opportunity. Being a first-generation lawyer, I cannot emphasize enough the importance and significance of these initiatives. Initiatives such as the present chat series provide a medium for law students/young lawyers to gain from their seniors’ experience. Listening to our struggles and learnings, I’m certain that the readers will feel reassured and more confident about building a successful legal career :)
To introduce myself, I am a Counsel with a practice of over 9 years in the field of Dispute Resolution and Corporate Law. While I have done substantial work in general litigation (original and appellate), my primary focus has been on regulatory practice in infrastructure and energy. I completed my schooling in Delhi and studied History at Lady Sri Ram College. Thereafter, I joined Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi.
2. Please share with us the factors that drove your decision to pursue a career in law.
Response: A career in law happened by chance. Since school I was clear about pursuing my dream to be in the Indian Administrative Services. In fact, the decision to do History Hons. and L.L.B was based on the idea that history and law could be my subjects for the main exam. But while juggling between my coaching and law course, I realized that I enjoyed studying law much more. By the time I decided to pursue a career in law, 5th semester exams were already over. I graduated out of law college without doing a single internship. While my contemporaries’ CVs boasted of various internships with prestigious law firms and chambers, I had none. However, I was fortunate to get through HSA Advocates in the practice area of my choice and since then there has been no looking back.
3. Please tell us about your experiences during your time in law school and what all co-curricular activities you took part in and how have they shaped you professionally?
Response: Even though my primary focus during law school was preparing for the civil services exam, I always made time to volunteer and participate in some way in the moot court competitions, lectures organized by my law school in association with international universities etc. These activities enabled me to interact with pioneers in different fields of law expanding my knowledge and awareness about different sectors.
4. Please share with us about your internships and how have these internships helped you in the initial stages of your legal career?
Response: As I shared earlier, I hadn’t interned during law school, my primary focus being the civil services examination. But since I had a change of heart in the final year, I started applying at various law firms/ chambers. During the job interviews that I appeared for, one question that I found particularly difficult to answer was whether my interest lies in litigation or corporate law. That’s when I realized the importance of interning during college. Since I was clueless about my area of interest, I decided to start an internship to get first-hand experience about what would each practice area entail. During the course of my internships with full service law firms I learnt basic contract drafting, court functioning and my research skills improved considerably.
5. What challenges did you face during the start of your legal journey, and how did you overcome them?
Response: The biggest challenge was getting a job in the practice area of my choice and the anxiety and uncertainty associated with it. Many times self-doubt crept in or I would regret the decision of not interning enough during law school like most of my friends. But throughout this struggle, I continued to work hard and focused on learning more and more. I remember staying up till late in the night and researching till I found an answer to the assignment given. Even when I joined HSA Advocates as a junior associate I tried to give my 100% to any task that I was given, be it proofreading a document or organizing files/documents for my seniors.
While I started as a junior associate in the mergers & acquisition team at HSA, after 2 years I developed an interest in litigation and joined the Chambers of Mr. Khurshid. Making the switch from corporate law to litigation came with its own set of challenges. While I had gained substantial experience in corporate advisory & transaction related work, when it came to handling matters in court I was a novice. With constant encouragement and support from Salman Sir and friends/seniors, I was able to gradually get comfortable in this new practice area. Today, I thank myself for taking that ‘risk’ as I thoroughly enjoy being a litigator.
6. What do you consider to be your biggest achievement(s) in your legal career?
Response: I feel I have a long way to go and hopefully, by the next chat series I will be able to respond to this question better :)
7. Please share with us your work experience while working with Mr. Salman Khurshid, Senior Advocate? It would be a great learning experience for our readers to know more about your work and association with Salman Sir.
Response: Salman Sir is one of the best seniors and if I can imbibe even a fraction of his qualities, I will have a long list of achievements to share :) Apart from the learning in law what I found most inspiring was Sir’s dedication and commitment to everything he did. Even after landing at 4 am from a 3-day trip to Oxford, Sir would be at the chamber exactly at 9:30 am fully prepared for the matters listed that day. While assisting Sir on matters outside Delhi, I got an opportunity to observe his routine closely. For a 10 am hearing, Sir was ready and at the breakfast table by 7, reading and happily chatting with other guests who wanted to interact with him. After a long hearing, while I was exhausted and dozed off during the drive back to Delhi, Sir continued to work on his book on the iPad. Despite his demanding schedule, Sir was always available for discussions and any support we required. In fact, once when one of the juniors was nervous about appearing in a high-stakes matter, Sir sat next to him in court to alleviate his anxiety and encourage him. And this is just one of many such incidents.
8. As a partner in one of the most prestigious law firms in India, can you tell us about the challenges that you encounter in your daily work and how do you overcome them? I am certain that our readers will benefit from the anecdotes you share with us.
Response: Working in a law firm necessarily entails delivering quality work within very tight deadlines which may require one to work on weekends as well. Given the limited turnaround time, managing work pressure becomes challenging. As a partner, in addition to meeting deadlines one must ensure that the team can perform optimally without feeling overwhelmed. There are times when petitions have to be drafted overnight or the dispute involved is novel. At such times, it is crucial that instead of delegating entirely we enable the team to navigate through the challenges and perform under pressure. Equally important is to give one’s team members breaks in between to rejuvenate and spend time with family/friends. I personally encourage my teammates to create time for exercise or playing some sport to take care of their physical and mental well-being.
9. What qualities you believe are essential to be successful in the legal profession, and how can aspiring lawyers develop these qualities?
Response: To succeed in the legal profession, hard work, sincerity and perseverance are key. However, first and foremost one must enjoy ‘law’ to be in this profession as it would otherwise be very difficult for one to sustain it.
10. As a recruiter, on what all parameters’ you assess a candidate?
Response: As a recruiter, I value sincerity and willingness to work. Additionally, whether one is aligned with the firm’s vision and goals. For instance, at HSA we organize in-firm learning sessions for lawyers from different practice areas and share weekly updates. It is important that a candidate aspiring to be a part of the team is willing to contribute towards such activities.
11. As someone who has achieved significant success in the legal profession, what advice do you have for law students who are just starting their careers?
Response: To students struggling with anxiety about getting a job or dealing with rejection in interviews, my advice is that it is a process that all of us in the profession have gone through and therefore, one shouldn’t get discouraged. In fact, securing a job is only the first step. With eyes set on the future, one should consistently and wholeheartedly give one’s best at every step of the way. Like I said earlier, hard work, sincerity and perseverance are key.
The Interview was taken by Abhishek Bhushan Singh (Advocate Litigation and Disputes Resolution, Founder and MD Nyayshastram)