In Conversation With Anuj Bhasme, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co| BW Legal World 40 Under 40

In this fireside chat with Chandril Chattopadhyay, Junior Correspondent, BW Legal World, Anuj talks about his glorious journey in law. He talks about his practice area, mentors in the profession and much more

Many Congratulations on winning the BW Legal World 40 under 40. How has been your initial reaction after joining the elite club of BW Legal World 40 Under 40 Lawyers and Legal Influencers? How was your experience interacting with the Jury and of the event?

AB: Thank you, for your wishes. I am elated to join the elite club of BW Legal World 40 under 40 lawyers as I share this accolade with brightest legal minds in India. From the list of winners, I find a few friends and colleagues with whom I have been on the same or the other side of the table, which makes this recognition even more special. 

Interaction with the imminent members who were part of the Jury was a pleasure. In fact, I took this opportunity to reflect upon my journey thus far with the Jury members and I certainly gained some key insights from their perspective. All-in-all it was an enriching day for me.

Please walk us through your journey in this field of law? When did you first realize that law was your life’s calling?

AB: The fact that I come from a family of lawyers made my decision to join the legal profession much easier. From a young age, I was enthralled by the discussions that my grandfather and father had at the dinner table made me very curious about the profession and also got me excited from time to time. However, the fact that I decided to pursue a career in corporate law and in a sense break away from the family tradition of being a litigator made me a bit nervous initially but those nerves were quickly settled thanks to the support from my family, seniors and mentors.

Who according to you has been your guide and mentor in this illustrious journey as a lawyer?

AB: From my internship days at Wadia Ghandy & Co., I have been extremely fortunate to have great mentors like the late Mr. Anand Bhatt and Ms. Bindi Dave who were instrumental in setting my foundation. Once I graduated and started my career as a corporate lawyer, the one person who has been a constant guide and mentor during my journey from being a junior associate at JSA  to now an equity partner at SAM, is Mr. Akshay Chudasama. He gave me my first opportunity to take a crack at corporate law and has moulded me to become the lawyer that I am today, for which I remain forever grateful.   

Please help us understand the practice areas you deal in and the diverse array of work you handle? Which industries does your practice cater to mostly and which sector of the economy does your advisory service cover?

AB: I am an Equity Partner and part of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co’s General Corporate, Private Equity, Venture Capital and Mergers and Acquisitions Practice Group. I have over 16 years of experience in advising clients on corporate structuring and restructuring, mergers and acquisitions (domestic and cross border), private equity and venture capital transactions across various sectors.

I have significant experience in the real estate, health care, logistics, services, FMCG, manufacturing, information technology and retail sectors. I also have substantial experience  and expertise in corporate advisory and regulatory aspects and have made several representations to various Indian regulatory bodies. As a part of my private equity practice, I have represented large and reputable global private equity houses such as Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, LeapFrog Investment Group, Hillhouse Capital Group and Motion Ventures on some of their marquee investments. I regularly advise several large multi-national corporations and listed entities such as Mitsubishi Power Americas, Inc., Church & Dwight Co. Inc., Lululemon, , Air France, DEME Group NV, Newell Brands, CPM Holdings Inc., Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd., NCR Corporation, Raymond Limited and New Delhi Television Limited in relation to various strategic ventures, corporate restructuring and corporate advisory work.

We have seen a spate of legislative changes in recent years that have been monumental in reforming India's legal framework across all sectors. Would you please highlight a recent development concerning your practice area that has positively impacted the industry?

AB: One of the areas of policy, which is of great importance to me, are steps being taken towards prevention of climate change particularly by adoption of green energy and renewables. One of the key aspects of mass adoption of green energy is the growth of electric mobility. Both the Central Government and State Governments have recognised the need for electrification of the transport system and consequently have rolled out policy and legislative changes to encourage the manufacture, purchase and utilisation of electric vehicles (“EVs”). 

Accordingly, I believe that the policy on Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (“FAME”) which was rolled out in 2015 and further the second phase of which is currently proposed to continue till March 31, 2024, is a decisive move indicating the commitment of the government for: (i) reducing the total projected carbon emissions; and (ii) achieving its target of net zero emissions. 

The FAME scheme spearheaded by the Government of India has a primary focus on improving and increasing the manufacture of EVs by providing subsidies to EV manufacturers and by providing further subsidies to infrastructure providers that provide supporting infrastructural facilities for EVs. This Scheme has contributed to reduction in prices for manufacturers to a great extent. Further on the consumer end of the industry, the Government has come up with, inter alia: (i) purchase incentives; (ii) tax incentives by way of exemptions for purchase of EVs and tax savings on EV loans; and (iii) scrappage incentives, to promote wider acceptance for usage of EVs among the public. 

Do you believe that AI and Technology will supersede the lawyering skills in the coming times, especially with the recent hype around ChatGPT and other AI softwares?

AB: The advances made by Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and other legal technological software is noteworthy and commendable, however, the legal profession is one of those professions which continues to rely on inter-personal aspects.  While the AI programmes such as Harvey.AI have the potential to become valuable utilities which can assist lawyers in streamlining their workstreams such as to narrow the review and be alerted to the important information much more quickly and overall improve productivity, yet my sense is that it cannot replace or substitute the lawyers in the near future.

Rather, I am of the opinion that if required, AI and lawyers would co-exist organically by lawyers embracing technology and AI reviewing and absorbing large amounts of information in a systematic and efficient manner, consequently leading to delivery of higher quality work product. Within the firm as well, we have internalised this philosophy and implemented machine learning technology to assist our lawyers with due diligence and improving document hygiene, and we continue to closely observe and seek feedback on the benefits and drawbacks. I must add, with the legal profession being slightly different than other professions in terms of the high standards of confidentiality and privilege of information that lawyers must contend with, it is quite inherently contradictory to the idea of AI amalgamating large data sets to improve performance and results.

What are you doing if not lawyering? What are your hobbies in general?

AB: I would probably be engaged in some or the other sport. I am very passionate about football and a massive Manchester United fan, so I would have perhaps pursued a career in that sport, whether as a player or a coach. Other than football, I enjoy scuba diving and have also recently taken up golfing.

As a parting note, would you please recommend a favourite book that left a lasting impression on you? What has been your most recent read?

AB: Cold Steel: Lakshmi Mittal and the Multi Billion Dollar Battle for a Global Empire by Byron Ousey and Tim Bouquet is a book I would strongly recommend, especially to young lawyers starting off their career in corporate law. My most recent read was the autobiography of Sir Alex Ferguson.


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