Head of India Business Group, Dutton Gregory, Southampton
It’s often said you can divide society into two ‘camps’: the academic and the practical. Not feeling as if I subscribed to either exclusively, I knew that whatever path I trod it would encompass both academia and practical work. Law lends itself to those who embody both traits.
I undertook my training contract at Dutton Gregory, where I remained after qualifying. During my training I was given a wide range of supervised ‘hands-on’ experience. To stay at the top of your game, the legal profession demands continual training throughout your career.
The core focus of my work is to facilitate cross-border business deals between the UK and India, such as joint ventures and setting up the contractual framework.
Any lawyer who works in the international sphere will have tales of challenges faced when dealing with emerging markets. During our first visit to a law firm in Kolkata, one of my colleagues thought we had entered the archiving room when seeing a huge stack of dusty files, but was horrified to learn they were live cases pending for several years.
Different areas of practice require different skill-sets. As a lawyer, you need to be able to handle sometimes highly complex issues (which are constantly changing) and deliver practical commercial advice to your client. An absolute must for any lawyer is the art of listening. The more information you can absorb from your client and others involved in the transaction, the better.
I was handpicked to travel with prime minister David Cameron’s historic India trade delegation last year. I represented the legal profession in roundtable discussions exploring closer collaboration.
Like us, the bar has gone through major changes of late – both economic and regulatory. With competition among ‘sets’ growing, they are becoming increasingly flexible and tailored to the commercial needs of our clients.
I would advise someone contemplating a career in the law to seriously consider the challenges that lie ahead; both academically and emotionally. The first chapter of Learning The Law by Glanville Williams is often recommended to those thinking about entering the profession.