INTERVIEW SERIES: MR. VIDIT MEHRA (ASSOCIATE, INDUSLAW)
[Mr. Vidit Mehra is currently an Associate in General Corporate and Insolvency Practice at IndusLaw. After completing his graduation from Symbiosis Law School, Pune, he worked with notable law firms of India including DSK Legal and HSA Advocates in the capacity of Associate]
1. How would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?
Firstly, I would like to thank TCCLR for having me here to share my personal and professional experiences. By way of an introduction, I am Vidit, who is practicing as a Commercial Lawyer, based out of Delhi NCR. An avid reader, who is always up to know or learn something new about this world, possesses a keen interest in global politics, and also happens to be an F1 enthusiast!
2. You completed a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Delhi University and later entered the legal profession, please tell us why you decided to pursue a career in law?
Economics and political science, as I understand, are closely linked with the basics of the law in more than one way. While economics will provide you with the logic of how the market functions, which is important to the practice of commercial law, political science will offer you multiple schools of thought which broaden your horizon and also work as a base to the subject of jurisprudence when you start reading the law. I feel my inclination towards reading law was evident from my second semester of graduation. I opted for some of the elective subjects which were based around the subject, just to gauge the depth of my interest in this field. By my final semester of graduation, I could find myself reading Legal Literacy as my college was one of those handful colleges in the University of Delhi to offer this application course. It was then clear to me that I wanted to pursue law. After my last year of graduation, I was offered a seat at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. The thing about this field that fascinates me the most is how law as a subject is ever-changing and evolving. It further pushes your thinking capacity and reasoning to a new dimension and personally for me, it fuels the ambition and the interest I hold in life. It is a symbiotic relationship wherein you give your efforts and receive equivalent knowledge in return. A career in law should always be well thought out and it must be an informed decision.
3. You are currently working with IndusLaw as an Associate. What are some key responsibilities that your role entails?
A typical day at work entails a Teams Call, followed by discussions on the ongoing matters and follow-up with the clients on the documents sent by us. As an Associate, it is expected to be on top of every ongoing matter you are part of, build client rapport, and ensure that deliverables are sent within the decided timelines. Due to the current situation, face-to-face interaction has been reduced to multiple phone calls/Teams Call with each other so that the communication between the members remains unaffected. Associates are usually responsible for creating the first draft or undertake the first review of any document which is then deliberated upon by other members, including the Partner over a call. The process is followed by capturing the suggestions received as per the discussion. As I understand, every team has a different way of operating and functioning but more or less at an Associate level, you create or review a document, receive suggestions/comments, and finalise the deliverables which are then sent out. Also, more often than not, it involves doing a lot of research (both legal and factual), in case there is some legal opinion to be provided to the client.
4. Tell us about a time you faced a challenging situation while working on a major deal. How did you handle the work pressure?
This question will never have the same response because it is always situation-specific. A challenging situation may occur in a number of ways. It could be a tight deadline, all or half nighters, not so friendly superior, or maybe simply because of the fact that there is no straight answer to the query put forth and the client may need a response by the end of the day. We, lawyers, are mostly dealing with the grey area of law because a straight answer to such a question would take away the bread and butter of most people. Handling work pressure is a technique you develop as you mature in that role. The best way here is to give yourself time to gain composure, take a step back, relax and take the next hour as a new day. Easier said than done, I have no qualms in admitting that, I myself find it difficult to put into use at times. Also, venting out to a close friend or colleague at work also helps to deal with the work pressure as you might receive a suggestion!
5. You have experience working with prestigious firms such as DSK Legal, HSA Advocates and now Indus Law. Could you describe your experiences at these firms and what you personally look for in a firm?
Well, every law firm that I have worked with, taught me unique things. My first job at DSK Legal was converted from a long-term internship. It was a bit easier in general as I was already trained to do things in a particular fashion and it differs from firm to firm or even person to person, which I learned later. I also received basic knowledge of how to work, more importantly – how not to work, and the way the legal industry functions in general. At HSA, there were new learning opportunities in terms of understanding the nuances of commercial law. Presently at IndusLaw, I am fortunate enough to learn things on an almost daily basis, with the kind of exposure and work we do. At my present firm, I am able to grow better and can safely say that it is making me use all my abilities and pushing me to find even more of it! For me, I always focus on the kind of work a law firm does and how it will match with my interest areas. Every lawyer, as I understand, prefers a specialization, and according to me, once you hit some substantial post-qualification experience, it becomes clear and you start engaging with the matters accordingly. This, however, is not specific and may differ from person to person or case to case basis.
6. Having dealt with interns as an associate, could you describe what qualities and skills make an intern stand out?
The expectation from an intern is very basic but it is very important to fulfill it. I have had numerous interactions with law students and interns because somewhere I feel that I was in their place a few years back. One of the qualities which can make an intern stand out from the whole lot of people interning is – willingness to know and learn things. Be regular and consistent with your approach and work. Another skill that is very important and later can develop into something substantial – research skills. I make it a point, to the extent possible, to not engage the interns in proofreading the document but provide them enough research work. I was fortunate enough to be guided by some amazing people in the industry who made it a point that the research provided by me is on point and now at this juncture, I realise the value of this skill. Always work on improving your research skills especially, case law research. Remain updated with every major case law and the related development. We are no longer living in the era of only hard-bound journals and thanks to technology, you can know and access a case law that can be a total game-changer to your case, within seconds. I always keep a track of important cases which may not be relevant at that point in time but can come in handy sometime later in one of your matters or for a reference. To simplify, start with keeping a track of cases of your practice area and expand it to the extent possible. To the readers, in no way I am taking away the importance of drafting, but this skill is always subject to the person you are working with, and it develops with time. Reading also helps you to develop structuring of your thoughts which is basic to the drafting.
7. What changes do you anticipate in the legal industry once the pandemic is over?
The changes may not just be limited to the legal industry. Overall, we may see a hybrid work culture within the organization, more reliance on the technology, growth of technology space, better response time in terms of deliverables, and cognizance of mental health and stress of the workers.
8. You are engaged in several fields including banking & finance, real estate, insolvency etc. Can you tell us some industry trends you have observed, pandemic related or otherwise, in these fields?
One thing which is common to every area of practice, which could be an offshoot of this pandemic is- flexibility.
Starting with Banking and Finance: a lot has happened in this space in the last 2 (two) years in terms of approach to the after-effects of this pandemic by the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”). We already have 2 (two) frameworks introduced by the RBI in 2020 and now in 2021. The RBI frameworks are aimed at alleviating the COVID-19 related stress of personal borrowers and micro small and medium entrepreneurs. Additionally, the RBI frameworks are meant to introduce certain other measures to help increase the liquidity in the market and instigate confidence in borrowers to start the credit cycle again. The government too, introduced an asset management company under the latest budget to deal with the situation of bad loans and Non-Performing Assets (“NPA”). This can very well be a result of the current NPA situation which is now additionally marred by a pandemic. This brings me to the related area here which is insolvency.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”): when the pandemic first struck last year in 2020, there was a restriction on the initiation of filing of fresh insolvency petitions for a specified period. This was met with some protest initially but maybe, it was the need of that time. Presently, the filing of applications under the relevant sections of the IBC has resumed but with a revised and much higher threshold for default in order to invoke insolvency. The current focus is strongly on letting a corporate debtor survive, especially given the turbulent situation where a failure of a business, especially a small business is imminent and we need to reverse the unfavorable outcome and maximise the asset value.
Lastly, the Real Estate: as per my limited experience in this practice area, I have the pleasure to assist in representing both a lessor and a lessee in such matters. While it is given that real estate is one of the badly hit industries in this pandemic, ipso facto, it has led to various litigations and disputes invoking the Force Majeure clauses under the agreements. Fortunately, we now have enough jurisprudence provided by different Hon'ble Courts in India on this subject. I further see a continuation of restructuring of the lease rents and re-negotiation of the lease deeds between both lessor and a lessee. Greater flexibility in terms of lease rent and other terms of a lease deed may be expected between the parties. Further, a green signal by the Union Cabinet by approving the Model Tenancy Act may aid in providing a push and liquidity in this space.
9. Would you have any specific advice to pass on to aspiring corporate lawyers?
I consider myself too young to be passing advice but from my own experience, it can be said that:
● Know what you want from yourself and your career;
● Plan everything well and execute it in the best way possible;
● Be curious enough to know and learn not just a law but everything which may concern you at some point;
● Have doubts and get clarity from someone experienced or a mentor; and
● Trust yourself and your abilities.