In Conversation With Srishti Singhania, Senior Associate, K Singhania & Co | BW Legal World 30 Under 30

In this fireside chat with BW Legal World, Srishti talks about her journey in law. She talks about her mentors, the importance of AI in Law, importance of higher degrees and much more

1.Many Congratulations on winning the BW Legal World 30 under 30. How has been your initial reaction after joining the elite club of BW Legal World 30 Under 30 Lawyers and Legal Influencers? How was your experience interacting with the Jury and of the event?  

SS:I was truly humbled to be selected amongst the elite club of BW Legal World 30 under 30. From here onwards, I take it as a responsibility to mentor younger lawyers and contribute to the legal fraternity.  

It was a great learning experience applying for this recognition and interacting with the Jury members. The Jury members were very encouraging and received pearls of wisdom from them on the day of the event. The process of selection was also quite rigorous and merit-based as there were more than 100 applicants and interviews ran over two full days. The event was very well organized. I am grateful to BW Legal World for giving us young lawyers a platform to display our potential.  

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

SS:Being a third-generation lawyer, my journey in the field of law started from the day I was born. I worked hard to study at one of the best law schools, National Law University Delhi. Thereafter, I started my practice at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai Office in the fields of Project Finance, Dispute Resolution and Private Client Practice. After gaining experience, I joined my own law firm, K Singhania & Co., Advocates and Legal Advisors (formerly Singhania & Co. Mumbai). During the 5 years of my practice, I have been able to work in multiple fields of law from corporate law to intellectual property law to commercial litigation and arbitration. This has helped me be that holistic lawyer who can help my clients with most of their legal challenges faced during their day-to-day business.  

I also realized that mediation was a powerful tool in resolving small value disputes and thus trained as a mediator. Presently, I am also working as a commercial mediator with the Centre for Mediation and Conciliation (CMC), an initiative of Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and have been successful in mediating any small value claims.  

I was also keen on learning the best international practices in the field of international commercial arbitration. Thus, I pursued a specialized LLM program in the field of arbitration at Queen Mary University of London in 2021-2022. The LLM program helped me study arbitration laws of different countries, interact, and learn from leading arbitration lawyers and arbitrators.  

I realized that law was my life's calling when I participated in K K Luthra Memorial Moot Court Competition organized by Sr. Adv. Sidharth Luthra, and my team won the second prize. The moot problem dealt with corporate and criminal law. I enjoyed the process of analyzing the law, formulating arguments and thinking on the spot when questioned by the judge. 

When I started practicing as a dispute resolution lawyer, I saw how law played an important role in giving relief to the litigating parties. My client would be grateful to me when he would get a relief in his favor. Thus, I wanted to be that peacemaker who could help people in resolving their disputes effectively instead of suffering because of the prolonged Court proceedings.  

3.Who according to you has been your guide and mentor when you started working as a lawyer and what did you imbibe from him as a junior?

SS:My inspiration in the field of law has been my late grandfather, Mr. D. C. Singhania. He was a pioneer in the field of law and one of the first Indian lawyers to start an Indian law firm in London and New York. Apart from being a lawyer, he also played an active role in the field of education and set up a University in his village. He was passionate about his work and was working until the age of 90 years. I definitely imbibed his spirit to give back to the field of law and society, and visionary thinking.

When I started working, my guide and mentor was late Advocate S. Malik, who unfortunately passed away during covid. When I joined K Singhania and Co, he had completed fifty years of his practice at Bombay High Court. However, his passion for law was infectious and he would still go back to basics whenever a legal issue came up. As a junior, I imbibed the spirit of being passionate about my work, always having a learning spirit and being disciplined. I still remember whenever we were not able to find any answer to a legal question. He would encourage us not to give up on the legal quest.  

4. How did you decide on your practice area when you started looking for a job? How much do you think internships helped in carving out a pathway for young lawyers who intend to get in the profession?

SS:When I started my first job at CAM, I joined with a spirit of exploring different practice areas, and had not decided upon any one practice area. I was fortunate to have always practiced in various fields such as Project Finance, Private Client Practice, Corporate Advisory, Real Estate, Intellectual Property and Dispute Resolution. This has helped me grow holistically while specializing in the fields that I enjoy, such as intellectual property law and arbitration.

Internships helped me in understanding different practice areas and practical aspects of law. I feel it is a great way for young lawyers to understand their interests and choose the field of law in which they want to specialize in from an early age. However, it is also important to have a holistic learning about difficult practice areas, and after having comprehensive experience, specialize in your chosen field of law.

5. Do you think higher degrees like LL.M. can enhance the skill set for a lawyer? If so, according to you which is the right time to pursue the same for a lawyer who has just entered the profession?

SS: I have completed my LL.M. in international arbitration from Queen Mary University of London. Personally, the LLM program helped me gain in-depth knowledge about international arbitration law of different countries. I also understood how arbitration law was implemented in the construction and energy industry. Thus, LL.M. programs can help you gain specialized knowledge and international perspectives in a particular law. In case you go abroad for your LL.M., you get an opportunity to interact with foreign lawyers, adapt to their culture and learn from their experiences. An LL.M. programs helps in shaping you as an Indian lawyer with a global perspective.

The right time to pursue LL.M. is after gaining a few years of experience so that you know the subjects in which you would like to gain specialized knowledge. Your practical experience will help to learn about practical nuances of law during the LL.M. program.

6. 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?

SS:AI and technology will definitely help in increasing the efficiency and productivity of lawyers, and lowering costs of legal services. However, lawyers will still be required to train the AI and technology, and review and finalize the research or drafts generated by AI. Further, AI and technology will not be able to replace the human lawyering skills of persuading judges and clients. The way ahead for all lawyers would be to learn the tools of AI and technology so that they can become more efficient, cost effective, and use their time for intellectual tasks rather than administrative tasks. The lawyers of today will have to update their skills by learning about AI tools to be more relevant.  

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

SS:When I am not lawyering, I would be checking out new restaurants and attending music concerts and theater. Being from Mumbai, I really enjoy attending shows at the National Centre of Performing Arts. I have also learnt Indian classical music. As a hobby, I also enjoy singing the evergreen old Hindi songs of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.

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

SS:One of my favorite books is ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’, written by American author Richard Bach. The book is a fable about a seagull who is an independent thinker who is frustrated about the squabbles of daily survival and is passionate about flying. It narrates his journey about flying, personal reflection, freedom, and self-realization. The book inspired me to believe that we should rise above the rat race and work towards realizing our unique potential.

I have not been able to read lately and end up watching content on OTT platforms. I enjoy watching heart-warming and inspirational movies. Recently, watched ‘Tarla’, the movie on Tarla Dalal which beautifully captures her story from being a homemaker to a renowned chef.  

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