Ashima Ohri

A business economist, lawyer, and writer. Editorial Consultant for BW Legal World.

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In Conversation with Mini Gautam, Founder, Arthavat Law Offices

Top lawyer Mini Gautam is on the elite list of BW Legal World 40 Under 40 Club of Achievers 2020 and a delight to interview. In conversation with Ashima Ohri, she speaks about her glorious journey in law, her mentors, issues of data management in the healthcare industry, and more. Also, Mini tells us why 'To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, is a must-read for every lawyer.

Mini, would you please tell us where did this illustrious journey begin and at what age did you decide to study law. Please walk us through your early years of education and the decision of becoming a lawyer. 

I decided to study law at the age of 16, with a commitment to focus on integrity and ethics-based practice. In the early years of my education as a lawyer, I strongly focused on law of contracts, which has helped me to this day. At the time, when we were required to be more focused on the academic aspects, I spent considerable time working on my drafting and writing skills. These small actions; became habits that would last a lifetime.       

Who have been your guiding North Stars and the biggest inspiration in this journey? 

In the initial years of my career, Mr Ketan Mukhija (Partner, P&A Law Offices), had been a mentor and guide. I have deeply admired the work of Mr.Shardul Shroff and his commitment to excellence. I also believe that in-house counsels can be strong pillars and influencers of the legal community, and in this regard Mr.Rajendra Misra’s (General Counsel, IHCL) journey has been commendable. I also applaud the work of practice focused lawyers, who have carved a niche for themselves, like Mr.Anirudh Rastogi from Ikigai Law.      

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

Our current focus is on technology-related laws. With the advent of the pandemic, most businesses have moved online, and there are a host of legal issues that have arisen in the tech space. In the years to come, data will be the most valuable asset and it will be up to companies to unlock its full potential. We have a startup oriented practice since I see a lot of potential for economic growth, employment generation, and innovation coming from startups. It also helps us as lawyers to be more involved in the company from the very ideation stage and be a part of their journey. I have always believed that lawyers need to understand the nuances of business and contribute to strategic decisions as well, to provide relevant and appropriate legal advice. Working with multiple clients in digital healthcare, fintech, and tech spaces has been a fulfilling experience. While these are our prime focus areas for the future, we regularly advise clients on M&A, investments, project financing, and general corporate-related matters.      

Would you please summarily tell us the current status of the sectors of the economy your work in, the roadblocks in our path and the way forward? 

There are challenges which are common to all sectors, while some may be sector-specific, and which were looming earlier as well, but have been accentuated due to the pandemic. Data management is a crucial issue for the healthcare industry, timely payments for the MSME sector, online safety for e-commerce websites, Artificial Intelligence integration for fintech companies, licensing issues in media and entertainment industry, etc. A common thread in most of these is how to optimally use technology while ensuring safety and protection of one’s proprietary ownership. This will be the future we need to be ready and prepared for.        

What in your opinion has been the biggest change or challenge looming over the legal landscape of India amid COVID-19?  

I think law firms have adapted to the challenges considerably well. Many law firms already had their processes and technology updated, to seamlessly work from home. The bigger challenge has been to cater to the changing requirements of clients, and adapting our practices, to better service clients with a tight budget and focus over advisory and mitigation measures rather than transaction practice, for a while at least.    

What can law firms do today to ensure they survive in an era of disruption? How is your firm staying futuristic? 

Lawyers need to be more involved in every aspect of the business, and decision making, to provide services which are more customised than generic in nature. It is only when you are an invaluable part of your client’s ecosystem, that you will be irreplaceable. We stay futuristic by continuously evolving and adapting to the changing business and sectoral requirements.    

Are there any LegalTech tools that you lean on to keep pace with the ever-evolving business as well as the legal environment? 

We use technology as much as possible, and are even trying to develop our in-house tools for better contract repository and management.  

Other than work, what else keeps you busy? Would you please share your other interests and hobbies with our readers? 

I write whenever I can, whether it is articles, blogs, fiction, opinions; writing in any form helps me express my thoughts, and connect with thousands of readers, whose feedback in turn has helped my writing.  

Many Congratulations on joining the BW Legal World Elite 40 Under 40 Club of Achievers 2020. 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 think what has helped me most is my passion for the work; being a lawyer is not just a job, and to give your 100% to something year after year, requires a deep interest and love for what you do. I try to be involved with the legal community in a complete way; therefore I consider teaching and mentoring law students and younger colleagues, a part of my work. Our experience and skills, when applied for our own professional success, are only put to partial use, but when we apply them for the growth and success of others, we can really make a difference, and even realise our full potential.     

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our lawyers of the future, any golden piece of advice from the treasure trove of your experiences in the industry? 

I want every lawyer to remember that day by day, you might feel like nothing is changing, but over the years, through hard work and sincere efforts, we are all evolving and strengthening our legal skills and acumen. So while it may seem challenging, even frustrating at times, it will always, always be rewarding.  

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

My favourite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, it is a must-read for every lawyer, to remember, that at its heart and core, legal practice is based on ethics, righteousness, and justice.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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