Ashima Ohri

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

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In Conversation with Nawneet Vibhaw, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co

In this interview, NALSAR alumnus Nawneet Vibhaw shares with Ashima Ohri his journey in law, passion for safeguarding the environment, his books on Environment, Energy and Climate Change, and much more.

Nawneet, 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.

Law happened to me completely by chance. It is quite an interesting story. I was a science student (PCM) who was expected to become an engineer by everyone as I was a bright student, consistently a first rank holder, head-boy etc. in school and the obvious expectation was that I study at IIT. However, I hardly studied in Class XI and XII and did not get through IIT JEE. I cleared the entrance exam for National Defence Academy (NDA) instead and after my medical tests, I was asked to undergo a minor tympanoplasty surgery after which I could join NDA, Khadakvasla. However, the surgery was goofed up by a renowned ENT surgeon and I could not join NDA. That was like a disaster for me as due to someone else’s carelessness my dreams were shattered. I thereafter decided to study English Literature for my graduation thinking that I would appear for Civil Services exams thereafter. While I was completing my first year of graduation reading the works of Keats, Yeats, Frost, Tennyson and of course Uncle Bill (Shakespeare), I heard of the national law schools and that got me very interested. By the time I heard of them, the deadlines for submitting applications were already very close and I could only fill forms for the entrance exams of NLSIU B’lore, NALSAR Hyderabad and NLU Jodhpur. I was waitlisted for the B’lore national law school but got through the merit lists for the national law schools in Jodhpur and Hyderabad. Again, how I chose Hyderabad over Jodhpur is in itself a very interesting story which I will share some other time. So, yes, I had never imagined that I would study law and that too in Hyderabad but I was destined for it. Trust me, good or bad, we are all guided by our destiny.

Tell us something about your interest in academia as you have authored three books and also taught at NLU Delhi and Jindal Global Law School?

I think as professionals, it is somewhere our responsibility to share whatever little we know to educate and inspire the youngsters. With my practice area and interest area being environment – the most critical topic of our times, it is only natural that you want to share with students your knowledge and experience. If you manage to inspire even a few of them your job is done. My interest in teaching also stems from the fact that my parents had been professors. I have seen them and realized that teaching is the most selfless and invaluable profession that we have in our society. There is a great need for teachers who are knowledgeable, sincere, academically honest and of course strong on ethics as it is not just about imparting knowledge but also about inspiring generations. Students should be able to look up to their teachers as role models and teachers have to ensure that they live up to this expectation.

I authored three books which have been published by LexisNexis because I wanted to convert whatever I had taught in classrooms into books which are accessible to everyone. I wrote these books in a simple and elementary fashion so that those learning the subject for the first time find it easy to understand. It is very satisfying when you see your students do well in their lives and the profession. The respect and recognition you get from them is unparalleled! This is our true contribution towards nation-building.    

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

No one in my family is a lawyer, not even distant relatives. My parents were professors and have now retired. Dad used to teach Zoology and Mom used to teach Psychology. My love for animals, nature, environment etc. obviously comes from my Dad. I have seen my Dad as an extremely honest, soft-spoken but determined individual, quite brilliant and sincere towards his work. Mom was the more jovial, friendlier, extrovert types but again brutally honest and straightforward. As a kid, I have spent a lot of time with my parents. So, I think I have imbibed a healthy mix of their traits and I am so glad and fortunate that I have them. Some of my school teachers have had a strong influence on me. In the legal profession, Mr Shyam Divan, Senior Advocate has always been an inspiration ever since I first met him and interned with him while I was a student at NALSAR. He has been a mentor to me in many ways. I have worked with many organisations and bosses and there are many from whom I have learnt quite a few things – knowledge of law, court-craft, professional integrity and ethics, honesty, time-management etc. in all fairness, we are what we are because of a lot of people – some who have taught us what to be and some others who have taught us what not to be.

Please hold tight for BW Legal World's inaugural issue of the print magazine that will feature Nawneet Vibhaw's full interview and much more from the world of law. Stay tuned...

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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