Ms. Vaidehee Chhatre is a young corporate lawyer based in Navi Mumbai. She is the Managing Partner at Consultcorp legal advisory firm.
In this episode we talk about corporate law and answer some common questions about corporate law as a career. And apart from that, she also shares one of her many interesting stories from her legal career.
Prasanna Naidu: Hey budding lawyers, welcome to the podcast. Today we have with us Ms. Vaidehee Chhatre who practices in the corporate law sector. In this podcast, we will be talking about corporate law, lawyer’s life, lawyer stories.
Prasanna: What inspired you or why you took corporate law after LLB?
Vaidehee: When I started my LLB course, by the 2 year I was sure that I was interested in the corporate sector more than anything else. I mean, this field attracts me, and I am so happy that I work in this particular field. There is no specific reason.
Prasanna: I mean there are many options when you start like litigation, non-litigation and there are many options in litigation and also in non-litigation there are many options. skipping all other options and going into corporate law was there any specific reason why you choose.
Vaidehee: Yeah, first of all as you rightly said that there are so many options in corporate law. I mean, there are many options when you start you can choose to litigation or non-litigation, in litigation, there are many options and also in non-litigation. As such, it is very important for you to initially focus on corporate law because that is more important than the actual litigation because many rare companies go for litigation, but the process before that is so vast and important for the company’s profit or loss or overall functioning. That’s why I decided that I’m going to focus on non-litigation, and now I am pretty comfortable in that I am also thinking of starting the litigation part. But yes, I have attended court cases under some very senior lawyers, that is another perk you you are are a corporate lawyer.
Prasanna: You know there are many people including me who are not clear about what corporate law includes and what is corporate law and all. So can you just give a brief about corporate law?
Vaidehee: Okay. So, starting with what is corporate law? it is anything and everything that a company will require in its functioning legal process so it includes right from the incorporation of the company, whatever the legal structure requires as a which type of company do they want to form right from there to the IPR, then the contract, then the compliance part of the company. There are various company policies and overall functioning. It also includes negotiations, settlement, dispute resolution and various formats. Then it includes legal advisory, when companies fall into some trouble, they most of the time want such a solution where it is legal, at the same time it is profit making and at the same time it does not spoil relation with other companies in the industry. So, all these things are included in corporate law. If you want to ask me who belongs to corporate law, then any person who has business skills, along with legal space is fit for corporate law.
Prasanna: Okay, so anything regarding companies, startups, etc.
Prasanna: So are there any subjects, on which you must focus more on your law school if you want to, select corporate law after your college?
Vaidehee: I think that company law is important. contract law is important. An IPR is important. All of these things are important. apart from that international law or business law is also important. if you have any certification course or anything like that then go for it because they are highly required. apart from this regular internship is also advisable.
Prasanna: Yeah. So you mentioned, international law, can you explain how is it connected to corporate law and Why is it important?
Vaidehee: recently I have been working on international settlement dispute resolution and all of that. so let me say that we know every country’s legal process is different but basics are always the same and I have been working in many countries, for example, India in USA, USA, and Turkey, and all around the world. you are sitting in one place, and you are making documents that have to be executed around the world. At the same time, if there is any dispute you are sitting here you have video calls and meetings wherein you are coming to a point of settlement. So all these things happen and that is why international lawyers, very much require
Prasanna: Yeah. So, when you talk about companies, companies are not restricted to a particular geographical location. like nation or so
So that’s why they have branches and other subsidiaries throughout the world. And that’s why they are working in different time zones and all. So that’s why international law is important.
So, this query which many of the students have is like a CA or CS is important if you want to get along with LLB.
Vaidehee: It doesn’t matter in which field of law you’re going by.
but it’s not like You have to be the one to enter into. it is an add on but not compulsory.
So, it has no it is always recommended. But you won’t suffer if you have not done cs orca.
Prasanna: Yeah, means, it is not a compulsion.
Prasanna: So are there any subfields in which you can pressurize?
Vaidehee: Yeah, so. in corporate law if you want a specialization then there are many sub-fields for that matter. So, you can choose law as per the industry, because we know that there are so many industries balance and finance and hospitality, then there is an advertising and digital media that is also a very growing and moving industry at present, then Apart from that era DSP, there is aviation, and whatnot. So, you can specialize yourself as per one particular industry that may divide this up to teams, or you can just follow a Somebody is very much expert in contract drafting somebody is an expert in dispute resolution so that we also can categorize. But if I will be very honest and tell you that All these things are linked. So, it won’t work if you just know one thing and you skip on other things you need to have a combined knowledge. but yes, You can decide in which field you need extreme specialization data. So that is another thing
Prasanna: If you start getting clients from a particular field only, then you will automatically develop that expertise. Are there any specific skills, which you must develop? If you want to get into this.
Vaidehee: Yeah. there are many. So first, is speaking skills that are very much important, you need to make yourself comfortable. In talking to unknown people And because in this particular field that I will be talking to unknown people that will be probably for some deal which is worth lakhs and crores. Okay, so there you won’t get the time, to warm up and get up and talk, and then you always have to beyond that balance, there as a lawyer, you are formal enough But as the person you just can’t cut that person off, or make that person awkward.
So you have to be friendly to a particular thing, and then you have to get strict about a particular thing. because you are lawyer on; Yeah. And that is, most of us are not able to Excel or start like I, I, right now I can talk to any stranger, but. Previously it was not the case like we hesitate, a lot and we are more reluctant to approach any stranger, even if we have some work if their work-related tasks we are quite reluctant to go there and talk to someone whom we don’t know. We are not comfortable with it.
Vaidehee: but you know, I think our process which develops over a period of time. So I am sitting right in front of you, I am an introverted person. It is very difficult for me on my personal level to you know, include too many people in my life. But at the same time, I have developed my sense of putting in efforts in such a way that I could easily talk to anybody for work, and there won’t be a communication barrier. And another most important thing that you need to have it in you if you want. to become a corporate lawyer is that you should not have that a boundary setup key I will learn or understand only that much, you should be ready to learn any and everything because I’ll tell you one more thing that people don’t actually think about before entering into this, is that we only focus on law part if you are a corporate lawyer. Every time you deal with business, you should understand, the model of business needs of the business are to be understood what is their vision, motivation. So everything needs to be considered so you have to be on your toes, and you have to be updated in every particular field, to be, a good corporate lawyer.
Prasanna: Yeah, that is true, but I think that is true for every practicing lawyer in any other field.
Prasanna: so, is there any specific timing. When should you decide that you are going to step into corporate law, after your LLB is that you have to decide it early, or you can do it, even after your final years and all?
Vaidehee: by the time you finish or before you finish your second year in a 3-year course and by 4 years if you are doing integrated LLB.So that is because then you can have your internships in line with that and if you have not decided till you passed out it’s still ok. I think every person should give at least one year after they are pass out to explore and understand where they actually want to settle in. So I think it’s fine one or two years not to be speeded up after passing out.
Prasanna: Yeah, because when you pass out and if you don’t have any, like, your CV doesn’t show any internships in corporate law firms. And usually, corporate law firms or any individual practicing in corporate law will not consider you to be hired. right?
Vaidehee: Yeah, maybe. I am not sure about that because of me personally. So, I started my lawyer. So before I started my practice in corporate law I have done an internship under a criminal lawyer. I have done internships and civil lawyers. I’ve even done it under a maritime lawyer. So, I have got those kinds of experiences during my internship, but trust me They helped me so much because I needed court exposure. So I went and had an internship under a criminal lawyer. That is the best way. you can learn the situation based on thinking about how lawyers think. Because in criminals there are 10,000 situations that happen. And there are various types of people some people even that you can be scared off to talk with them as clients. So, that exposure you get, you get to learn patience. That is very important, as even for a corporate lawyer or for that matter any other lawyer. So any type of internship is good. Any internship works but you should have as it stands you out from the crowd. so that is what happened I got my first job before getting my certificate ob LLB they knew I have attempted my last exam and waiting for the results at that time. so if I would have not passed out I would have lost my job but then I pass that why I got a job and
I continued, and then it went on to something that now, today, I’m sitting here and I have various clients in these fields.
Prasanna: Yeah. So that helps if you have done internships. You said you stand out of crowd. I see that even if you don’t have any internships, even then you stand out of the crowd, but then you are completely alone no one would be there.
Vaidehee: Yeah, see fate also plays a role ok so who is interviewed you is that person able to understand the positives in you, then maybe use stand a chance. So that is why to work on developing our skills because we cannot rely on that particular thing. rights?
Prasanna: right right!! And one thing I heard that you told you interned under maritime lawyer So can you just in sentence Tell us what it is? what matters such lawyers deal with?
Vaidehee: No, see I won’t be able to tell you in detail because that was my first internship so that time you know more research work I use to observe that how my senior lawyer talks to her client, deals with the client. I can just say one thing that it is very strict and it has some really set up boundaries and there are rules which are so tough that if you against that there is much high consequence so that is one thing I learned because it was my 1st internship. and you know how the first internships are right?
Prasanna: so I think maybe they are dealing with all the cargos, shipment, and all the legalities regarding that?
Prasanna: I know in the Indian navy also there are legal officer posts but for that, there are exams and all.
Vaidehee: in the navy, in the army, there are positions for lawyers. and that is another thing if someone is interested in this that person should definitely think about that.
Prasanna: I mean one who is interested in legal and also wants to join arm force should consider this. ok, a lot of people watch suits and decide to join law. can you just make clear what is corporate law like in non-litigation and corporate litigation?
Vaidehee: there is vase difference between corporate litigation and non-litigation corporation because when you talk about the litigation side when a company going into litigation that can be of any nature they can be NCLT case, civil case, criminal case. so litigation has a very wide scope when it comes to corporate because it’s not like those companies have only one type of dispute which will go into litigation so every other court is applicable when it comes to dispute because it’s a simple thing if you belong to a particular industry. say for example you are in the hospitality industry your business has some trouble and there is a dispute you will go to court. now someone has walked into your hotel and done some kind of offense or mischief which is criminal in nature than it will be criminal litigation so litigation will cover all area of litigation and non-litigation is where you are centered at one place and you have to manged everything sitting there which means it required a lot of coordination, reflexes matter a lot. there is no fixed time when you are in corporate so it’s not a 10-8 job there can be an emergency at any time you have to be there.
Prasanna: like doctors?
Vaidehee: yeah, and people will remember you only when they are in trouble.
Prasanna: Yeah, Obviously, you know, when you’re talking about this nine to five or nine to eight. So people have this thing in mind that litigation is full of struggles and not, not, and non-litigation is fine, you get good money, and it’s quite better than litigation. But that’s not the case. Right. So, every, every profession has its own challenges. So, tell me something about that.
Vaidehee: Yeah. so if any person ever joins in litigation, thinking that it will be easier than that person is going to get the biggest disappointment of life.
So I have worked under some senior council who are famous in the litigation part, as well as I have worked under some senior accountants who are famous in the non-litigation field and trust what I have learned from all of this is that every field has its own challenges and require the same level of dedication to make the mark.
Nobody can say non-litigation is easy or non-litigation is easy it’s just ego when people say ohh why you are doing litigation or why are you doing non-litigation so that is a different thing but trust me both of the fields are very difficult. law is not the field for you if you don’t want to struggle.
Prasanna: that’s the case with every field you have to struggle in begging.
Vaidehee: if you make a mark you have to work with whatever comes in your way.
Prasanna: yeah but one thing is there that is regarding paychecks That is salary. There must be differentiating factors in litigation and non.
Non-litigation for that matter. right?
Vaidehee: If you are in a company as an employee in the legal department then your salary is secure. but then there will be a lesser amount. this is a drawback with stability. But again if you have law rooms and companies as your clients you will be a non-litigation firm but as litigation. like if the client will come money will also come if there will be no client there will be no money. so as simple as that.
Prasanna: Right, you are practicing, I guess for Three years?
Vaidehee: so before I passed out I did two years of an internship. I guess more than 3 years.
Prasanna: So, there are many sources like news websites or something like that, where you may be updating yourself regarding corporate law and stuff. So, can you suggest some websites or blogs to our viewers?
Vaidehee: I can not suggest any websites for corporate law because in India there is so much gap when it comes to the corporate law or news regarding that so to keep myself updated on what I follow is all the legal related blogs or any articles i come across not only that whatever news come that also linkin is very good source if you want some knowledge as an corporate lawyer because countries under than India are more aware about corporate law field and they have more articles, more information on their websites when it comes to corporate law.so that is one thing other thing is government website so as i told you IPR is very important when i comes to corporate law so IP India is website that is government website for finding trademarks and all of this things if you will explore that website you will get knowledge regarding ipr better than any other course or textbook so if you want to keep yourself updated the best thing i have learnt is corporate law is to explore and government is doing good job in that.
Prasanna: Yeah, websites which you mentioned are really important like the government, because you will get direct information from authentic sources. And the second thing is LinkedIn so it is very important for all professions, especially lawyers. And nowadays, like a few months or a year, I am seeing that LinkedIn has grown a lot. And lawyers, a lot of lawyers have become active, and many lawyers are really posting really good content. So, that is a must for you, You must grow your LinkedIn profile and follow some people are posting good stuff. And so, if you want to specialize in corporate or any other field, then start following those pages, or those lawyers who are practicing in that field So you will automatically get updated.
Vaidehee: So you can request to be a part of groups which is specific for corporate lawyers over a world that group has lawyers posting questions or doubts or maybe query On the page and other lawyers, answering them. If you actually read that, it gives you more practical knowledge than just the textual knowledge and it helps a lot.
Prasanna: So, we would like to hear some of your stories. So, you know, and most of our viewers know that we have a playlist on our YouTube channel called lawyers stories videos on young lawyers, come and share one of their stories and incident, which they want to share, from which we all can learn, as well as kind of entertain and relatable the one story you want to share with us.
Vaidehee: actually it will be difficult for me to share one story Because of the kind of job, I have done so far. A lot of traveling all over India. So, there is a story for every state, but to share here this was in my initial stages in my job. So when I started working in a company. The first group that I was working for. So, I was very new So, we were told that I had one senior in the legal department who told me that there was some dispute in goa factory and it was very urgent to go there and resolve it along with the management so this is another very good thing being a corporate lawyer to work directly with management so you can feel a real thing is happening on a day to basis So, I was told that you will also have to accompany and all that so I said okay We were told that we have to go for two days Okay two days. Whatever it is a dispute you resolve it and come back. so naturally I am a person if I am traveling for two days I will carry luggage only for two days so I am not that kind of person who will pack up extra things while traveling.so, I took normal two days clothes and everything and I went so after we went, then we realized that this thing is much bigger than what we thought because it was an alcohol factory, alcohol brewery which had a dispute and it was worth some thirty-four crores so, it was a big thing. so nowhere, our mandate was that till the time this doesn’t resolve, you cannot come back. so you have to get your work done and come back I went there for two days and ended up staying there 24 days trust me it was so painful because I had only two pairs of clothes which I was wearing alternate days and which were formal this was a part of that which I carried.
Prasanna: did you purposely wear this today?
Vaidehee: not actually but it helps.so only those clothes which I have to reuse it everytime and the biggest pain is that you go to a location like goa and you stay there for 24 days and you don’t get chance to go on beach even for one single beach for one time and you are continuously going to various government offices there to the factory there,to the court in goa,so i have seen the goa’s district court, goa high court and attended the matters there and everything but, I could not go on the beach and then ultimately you work and come back and there when you travel fir work, it was pathetic because I remember in my intial days my work would start at 8 am because now i am traveling so,I am working under senior lawyers who are famous there for litigationso, according to their time I have to adjust it would start 8 am and would end at2 am so that long i would work and all 24 days I was just working working working because,you are traveling so no Saturday,sundaywork needs to be completed without any holiday so my first 6months I don’t know if that was my luck that company had such important issues that i could not get one single holiday and i was working all the time.so,this is my story of 24 days and my entire timefirst two years have been like that, i will get a call there is some emergency,I have to run and it will be in ang corner of this country and you just have to go. sometimes there are people along with you sometimes you are alone.so you have to pick up that courage and do those things when I traveled I was a very protected child ok ao before I got this exposure, I had never Travelled alone I had never stay alone at night, at some unknown location so there was so much that I was thrown on just like that and I have to pick it up but then, I knew I am going to give my all in it and I gave it was very difficult, but it was very rewarding also
Prasanna: So it was not only a learning experience in the terms of lawyers but also as 1 person, personally you learned a lot
Vaidehee: I became independent in true sense for us you know when we say independence, we only consider financial independence we don’t understand how many other factors we are dependent on in life so, I become independent with respect to my clothes with my things, with respect to people accompanying me I was on my own then even when it comes to your security you just know that you have to stand up for yourself you don’t know that anybody else will be around to take care of you so all these things and I also learned one more thing that we think that the world is bad there are bad people in the world but trust me there are more good people in the world which we don’t get to know because of the media you actually travel and you go there and you will see so many new people and so many good people.
Prasanna: right, so regarding stories this one thing is there but with your story, it’s like when you are discussing any goa plans, or your friends are discussing that or any memories from goa and you will be like no please change the topic. I have been to goa, but I haven’t been to any beach.so if anyone asks you that where did you go in goa? and you will be like this office, that court…!!
Vaidehee: I have faced this so much, my friends were like how can you not go on a beach, you were there for 24 days and even after that ok so goa became my second home, because till that time that dispute was on hearing used to be there, I had to run to attend hearings and all that so I use to go there, come back and again go there. so not just goa, I have been to so many places and every place it has been like that because by the time my work would end and I would get free time then I had to rush to the airport because the flight was scheduled accordingly. so no chance of roaming the only good thing, when anyone asks me about goa I had been there once with my friends so I ask them which trip you ate referring to? Then I can talk about it because otherwise, I can just talk about the excise of goa, police commissioner office, the district court, high court, lawyers’ office, and all those things where will you find the stationery shop there and all that I can tell you.
Prasanna: stationery shop also… that is interesting
Vaidehee: no because see you are on your own. Want xerox, you go and take it print outdo it by yourself. You are not the boss, no one is working under you. you have to manage everything