Ashima Ohri

A business economist, lawyer, and writer.

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In Conversation with Siddharth Srivastava, Partner, Khaitan & Co

Mr Srivastava speaks with Ashima Ohri on his exceptional legal career. He also shares his expert views on the evolving practice area of insolvency law and much more.

Siddharth, 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. 

As it was common during my childhood, considering my strong academic performance in school, my parents wished for me to clear the JEE exams. However, even at that age, I was cognisant about my strength and weaknesses and after my first attempt at JEE, I shifted my focus to law school preparation. On a retrospect, I realise that my legal aptitude must have been innate as my father throughout his career was in the legal profession. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for law school entrance exams and was considerably happy to have secured admission at NLIU, Bhopal. I was in the top 2% percentile in my B.A. LL.B and in an attempt to quench my academic interest, I further pursued LLM at Columbia University, New York. There has been no looking back since then and my tryst with law has been pleasurable and satisfying since the beginning.   

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

First and foremost, my father, who tirelessly worked throughout his career burning the midnight oil with diligence sans a blemish on his face. In the profession, my initial years at L&L associates were moulded by Sameen Vyas and Piyush Mishra. In Link Legal, Atul Sharma and Anand Srivastava gave me the wings to discover myself as a partner and autonomy to mentor juniors. Presently, Haigreve, Bharat and Rabindra are guiding me to firmly establish myself as a professional capable of leading complex and structured domestic as well as cross-bordered deals. I have been blessed with seniors who have acted as sounding boards and have shown me the correct path when in crossroads.                

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

At Khaitan & Co., I handle Banking & Finance/Restructuring & Insolvency practise areas. My work profile includes extensively dealing with leading banks and financial institutions and advising clients on syndication, debt restructuring, project finance and structured finance matters.  

On the insolvency front, I regularly advise clients in the sphere of insolvency resolution process in various capacities such as counsel to resolution professionals, representative of financial creditors and operational creditors and advisor to investors/bidders. 

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? 

I do a wide variety of banking, restructuring & insolvency work which is sector agnostic. In COVID times, on account of suspension of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”), we are witnessing a massive uptick in pre-insolvency restructuring cases as well as enforcement by the lenders. While some practising lawyers saw the suspension of IBC as a roadblock, frankly speaking, it has opened up further avenues for novel restructuring work. The way forward would therefore be a healthy mix of insolvency and restructuring work which will keep specialist lawyers like us gainfully engaged.  

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

I have two young boys at home, so all of my free time is devoted in engaging and spending quality time with them. I do intend to get back to playing badminton and continue practising my golf sessions, as soon as we are up and about after the pandemic.  

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? 

Thank you. To my mind, eagerness to learn and perseverance have helped me get where I am.  I truly believe that there is no end to learning especially in the legal field which is extremely dynamic and demands the professionals to keep evolving and reinventing themselves. So my advice to budding professionals in the legal field is to delve deeper into the books and keep the fire for knowledge burning.    

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? 

Opportunities are galore. One just needs to be on the lookout and be eager to capitalise on the opportunities though it may appear time-consuming and arduous. Eagerness and ability to prioritise work whenever opportunities knock on the door is a key to moving ahead in the career.      

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

Being a movie aficionado, tough to name one, but my absolute favourites are The Big Short (showcasing superb acting skills by Christian Bale!!) and The Great Hack, both streaming on NETFLIX

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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