In Conversation With Ankit Khushu, Partner, Kachwaha & Partners

In this interview with Ashima Ohri our Managing Editor, Ankit shares her journey in law, her thoughts on joining the BW Legal World Elite 40 Under 40 Club of Achievers 2021 with the prestigious BW Legal World 40 Under 40 Best Lawyers and Legal Influencers Award.

How and when did you know becoming a lawyer was your life’s true calling? 

Law was never in the plan. I was a science student and keen on taking up engineering (which was more sought after then). Somehow, when it was about making the final choice, I decided on law as it seemed more intellectually challenging and something I could make a difference with. Law school was an enriching experience. After graduating, I started my career with an independent chamber and got into hard core litigation. Even as a fresher, opportunities were aplenty. I independently handled drafting, court appearances, client meetings. All this was very challenging and satisfying and taught me a lot about lawyering. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and realised that this is what is meant when they say, “you should enjoy your work”. From then to now, I have enjoyed every day of my work and love being a lawyer. 

Would you please tell us about your specialisation and the array of work you handle at your firm? 

I focus on arbitration, both domestic and international and have represented clients in arbitrations administered by various international arbitral institutions (ICC, SIAC, LCIA) as well as ad hoc arbitrations. 

I handle high stake disputes for clients relating to commercial contracts, infrastructure, power and construction projects and represent clients in arbitrations and in courts & tribunals across India including the High Courts and the Supreme Court. 

Additionally, as my contribution to academic discourse – I organise the (i) the South Asian Regional rounds of the FDI International Arbitration Moot (now in its 10th edition) and (ii) ‘Arb Excel’ an all-India Essay Writing Competition on arbitration to encourage young students to read on the subject and write qualitative articles (now in its 8th edition). (Both conducted by my firm). 

What are your predictions for 2022 in the area/s of specialization mentioned above? What are some of the upcoming trends of the industry? 

The past few years have seen the Indian courts take a healthy pro arbitration approach. The government has also shown its will in making India an arbitration friendly jurisdiction. Of course, we have a lot to achieve to catch up with leading countries, but we have started moving in the right direction. 

One recent landmark judgement or the best judgment of 2021 that you’d like to share a word about.

The Supreme Court in its recent judgment has paved way for grant of Permanent Commission to Women Army Officers. This Judgment cuts through all sorts of stereotypes and shows the mind set of our courts today. 

As a new age lawyer, what to your mind is the one thing in the current legal ecosystem at the Bar, Bench, or in the Law Firms that needs our attention.

If I have to say one thing – I would say liberty to innovate. 

Due to the burden of pendency in courts, things tend to get rushed. If we have time to think, we can analyse and innovate. The bench, bar and the entire legal community can find solutions to societal problems, economic roadblocks, and work on other progressive issues. 

Many Congratulations on joining the BW Legal World Elite 40 Under 40 Club of Achievers 2021. What to your mind has helped you get to where you are and what advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction? 

Thank you. I think what worked for me was that I really enjoyed my work and the people I worked with. Once you enjoy what you are doing, things tend to fall in place. It’s a long career and relationships are very important. Also having respect for everyone you interact with. 

For younger lawyers, the profession is like an ocean and there is place for everyone here. Be confident to back yourself up and be secure to learn from others. Don’t try to replicate someone’s success. What worked for them may not work for you. The profession is a long haul and we all make our own journey. There are a lot of different ways to be successful. 

As a final note, would you please recommend to our readers your favourite book that left a lasting impression on you. 

I just finished reading ‘The Dharma Forest’ by Keerthik Sasidharan, first volume of the trilogy about the Mahabharata. It is a very interesting book, set in the last few days of the war of Mahabharata. The first part of the Trilogy tells the story of Bhishma, Draupadi and Arjuna. It renders the Mahabharata war scenes real and intense, which is different from what we have read or seen so far. The author makes you see the story of each of these characters with a fresh perspective. It is a very compelling read. 

While it is encouraging to see the increase in statistics of women in law and in leadership roles, would you say things have become easier, or does the way to the top continue to be a journey through labyrinths and mazes for women?  

Things have become easier, but we still have a long way to go. The challenges of juggling family and career are more for the women than men. I have seen a lot of my contemporaries fall off the ladder and opt out of the profession just when things are looking up for them. 

My advice to all young women lawyers out there is to stay patient and never give up on your goals. Don’t run a race. If you want to go slow for a while, do that and come back to work when you can. What is more important is the continuity not the pace.

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