In Conversation with Poonam Verma, Partner, J. Sagar Associates, Advocates & Solicitors
Ms Verma speaks to Ashima Ohri on her wonderful journey in law, her biggest inspiration, her work at J. Sagar and Associates and much more in this exclusive interview with BW Legal World
Poonam, 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.
Thank you, Ashima for having me here and giving me the opportunity to share some of my experiences. Well, being an army kid, I travelled around the country during my primary and secondary education. Had no fixed base. You may recall that about 20 years back, for a science student there were only two career choices were- doctor or engineer. I wanted to be an engineer and was fascinated with the Army Institute of Technology, Pune. In my last two years of school, my desire to join an army college and be an engineer boosted even more. However, one fine day, my father mentioned to me that a new army law college is now coming up, would you want to fill-up the form? Having no idea about law, no lawyer in the family or friends, I still said- yes, why not? Those days there was no CLAT. That’s how the law actually happened. In fact, my fascination to engineering continued till my first year of law college. As luck would have it, I started enjoying the law. Once I got interested in my law subjects, there was no looking back. Scored well and got to represent my law school in the most prestigious moot courts, interned as a clerk with Justice (retd) C.K. Mahajan, Delhi High Court and many other wonderful opportunities. Being a first-generation lawyer, was very jittery in the final year- what will happen when I graduate, where will I work, what will I do etc. Since then I have always put my heart and soul into the profession. God has been kind!
Who have been your guiding North Stars and the biggest inspiration in this journey?
Actually, it’s difficult to name everyone who has played an extremely important role in this journey. Since my childhood, have seen my parents work extremely hard with a lot of dedication. After marriage, my husband has played an incredible role and has always supported me through thick and thin and guided me selflessly. Professionally, Ms Parul Sharma who is currently a CEO, the Academy for Human Rights in Business is the one who led my way and gave me the confidence to face the legal world. She is a gem. I am fortunate to start my professional life with her. Observing my keen interest in litigation, she suggested trying the Delhi High Court. That’s how my second mentor- Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, Senior Advocate, Ex-ASG and the President of Delhi High Court Bar Association happened. How to prepare a brief totally on your own is the learning I got from him. You fall, get up, again fall and again get up and run- is the philosophy that one has to follow with Mr Chandhiok. Once you demonstrate the ability to run, he helps you to run in every which way possible. Thereafter, JSA happened and I cannot thank enough my colleagues for guiding me all through. My motto is- “Never forget those who helped you on the way up”.
Would you please tell us more about the array of work you handle at your firm?
I am a Disputes lawyer. I primarily handle regulatory and policy matters in two sectors- Power and Aviation. I cover a broad spectrum of advisory, risk analysis and arguing matters before specialized Commissions, Tribunals, various High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. I have the fortune to regularly represent the country’s big corporate houses, government institutions and industry associations on several landmarks and sectoral issues arising in the two sectors. I also often get to speak at nationwide conferences conducted from time to time on power and aviation sector related issues. I am thankful to my clients for continued support and reposing faith in me. I feel blessed for the opportunities that come my way.
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 would only like to say, believe in yourself, work hard and never miss opportunities. I availed of every opportunity to learn from everyone (junior or senior). Make your foundation strong. Our the profession is extremely demanding so be prepared to deal with the challenges.
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 books- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne which has taught me to always be positive (still struggling to fully implement it) and Mein Kamph by Adolf Hitler gave an insight on the power of steadfast perseverance in one's beliefs and ideals.
Please hold tight! BW Legal World is soon releasing the inaugural edition of its print magazine. It will feature Anshul Prakash'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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