In Conversation With Ashwij Ramaih, Senior Associate, Khaitan And Co

Part of BW Legal World’s 30 Under 30 Best Lawyers and Legal Influencers 2021 club of achievers Ashwij works as a Senior Associate at Khaitan & Co. A bright restructuring and insolvency lawyer, he has assisted his team in many landmark decisions pertaining to the restructuring and insolvency domain.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What made you choose a career in law? And how was the experience of studying law? 

Since middle school, I have always been interested in humanities and social sciences. So I had decided very early on that I would pursue a professional stream where I could study humanities. Of the options available, they seemed the most attractive and interesting. My college days were a decent mix of curricular and co-curricular activities, including mooting, debating and athletics. I was a member of the Literary and Debating Society and the Union Debate Committee for much of my time in college. 

 If you could suggest one reform in the legal education system, what would it be?

Law schools should try to keep their curriculums a little more dynamic to ensure that proper academic learning is imparted to students in contemporary/emerging areas of law. While core subjects like constitutional law, criminal law, procedural law, jurisprudence, company law etc. are extremely vital for the holistic growth of a lawyer, law schools should also provide courses (at least as electives) on contemporary subjects, such as laws regarding restructuring and insolvency, cryptocurrencies etc.  

Please tell us about your specialisation and the array of work you handle at your firm.

 I am a restructuring and insolvency lawyer at Khaitan and Co. The restructuring and insolvency practice in our firm is sector and role agnostic. Accordingly, I have assisted in representing the interests of various stakeholders in varied restructuring/ insolvency resolution processes, including resolution professionals, promoters, resolution applicants, etc. in various sectors, including steel, power, telecom, financial services etc. I have also had the opportunity to assist my team in advising clients in relation to many landmark litigations which have laid down the law on various issues under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

What advice would you give law students seeking the best internships in their area of interest?

At the outset, I believe that law students should delve deeper into various areas of law before concluding having an “area of interest”. In law school, it is important to explore and excel in every area of law that forms a part of the curriculum to be a holistic and complete lawyer. I think our profession opens doors to many opportunities, and it is unwise for law students to decide early in life to concentrate on the opportunities behind one door and shut out the rest.  

Applying the above to the question, in my humble opinion, law students should keep themselves abreast of all opportunities available to them and pursue them actively without trying to be too picky and selective about where they want to intern or which “area of interest” they want to pursue. 

In your opinion, what will be the top three trends that will dominate the Indian law firm ecosystem in the next five years? 

In my opinion, the top three trends that will dominate Indian law firm ecosystems are as follows: (a) building a team/practice dedicated to legal and regulatory aspects around fintech, artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies; (b) integration of artificial intelligence into the everyday functioning of law firms; and (c) emphasis on sector/practice specialisation. 

Is a master's degree in law important for a successful career in your desired practice area? Have you done your LL.M? If yes, please mention the specialisation and college or your future plans of further studies or other important certifications useful for lawyers in this age and time, if any. If not, please share your views on why LL.M is not the answer to mastering a subject. 

The question of whether an LLM is desirable depends on the personal goals of the person in question. If you want to shift towards or excel in academia or policy, then LLM is desirable and required. When it comes to litigation or your career in a law firm, an LLM degree may or may not guarantee immediate and direct benefits. 

Be that as it may, a prestigious LLM programme allows a student to get an in-depth understanding of the subject matter and build contacts and networks with other accomplished practitioners in the subject from across the world. These benefits of an LLM, while not quantifiable or direct, definitely have a lot of importance in the long-term growth of a lawyer, both in terms of career and otherwise.  

Many Congratulations on joining the BW Legal World Elite 30 Under 30 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?

I was extremely fortunate to have received immense support and encouragement from my Team and my firm since my first day in the firm. “During the initial stages of our career, when we are extremely underconfident and insecure about ourselves, the right encouragement and support at such a vulnerable stage go a long way in making our careers.” I was fortunate to have received such support and encouragement from my team and firm. 

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

It is a little difficult to identify one such book. Among the books I read in recent times, I think it is “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe. Among classics, I think it would be “The Idea of History” by R.G Collingwood and Animal Farm by George Orwell.

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