Better Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy is what India needs today and for the future. As promising as these sectors are in terms of future development potential, the landscape is a maze of economic, political and regulatory turmoil .
Tanvi Trivedi, our next pathbreaker, Energy & Infra Lawyer, helps Energy & Infrastructure companies navigate the maze with legal expertise and forward looking agreements/clauses that mitigate project risks in a very dynamic environment.
Tanvi talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about her early years in debating and extra curricular activities that sealed her interest in Law.
For students, this interview is a great lesson on the need for introspection and understanding what you are good at and how that can be put to use in your career and for the benefit of the society as a whole!
Tanvi, tell us about your background?
I am a 28 year old girl who has been a lawyer for the past 6 years. I did my master’s in law from Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC and did my Bachelor of Law from Amity University, Noida. I finished my secondary education from DPS Dwarka. I was an ardent debater and was also a part of the Debate Society in DPS. I guess, my interest in law was fired from these debates. I was the basketball school team captain and spent most of my time playing inter school tournaments and participating in debates.
What did you do for graduation/post-graduation?
I completed my my Bachelor of Law from Amity University, Noida and post-graduation from Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC, USA and specialized in International Business and Economic Laws with a deep focus on projects and risk management.
What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
While I have always been known to apply logic and voice my opinion, my fascination with the field of law began when I was in high school and visited a session’s court in Delhi, India. A conjoin of finesse and compelling oratory of the lawyer who was articulating the principle of preponderance of probabilities heaved an unremitting impression on my adolescent mind.
What intrigued me the most about the field of law was its capacity to accommodate people’s individual needs by negotiating the legal system with deep knowledge of ethics and penal code.
Since school days, extra-curricular activities such as debating, basketball, dance, music, and poetry have occupied an important part of my life. I proudly held the position of head girl in my school and have enjoyed leadership positions at various clubs such as interactive club, literacy club etc. I participated in debates at the national level which immensely contributed to my oratory skills. Even at the university level, I participated in legal debates and was part of various societies such as cultural and legal aid society. My participation in the Investors Awareness and Tax Reforms program conducted by the institute of company secretaries of India is noteworthy.
Even as a child, I always liked and wanted things done my way. That has not changed much with age, the only difference is that I now have legal tools to make people understand why I am suggesting that a particular thing be done my way. We all as human beings want to believe we are right. As Lawyers, we make people believe we are right through legal means. This is compelling, challenging and satisfying at another level. The rush of adrenaline that I felt throughout my school when I won debates is the same that I feel when I try to articulate and prove a point on behalf of my client. When I draft a particular clause providing my client the shield from risks, it is extremely satisfying.
We get to argue, and we get paid to do it. Life is good
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path
After completing my high school, I took one step closer to achieving my law education dream by securing admission in one of the finest law schools of India. During my five year tenure at Amity Law School, I had the fortuity to experience both corporate and litigation subject matters and pursue courses such as Competition Law, Constitution Law, Labor Law, Corporate Law, Cyber Law, Intellectual Property Rights, Law of Contracts and Dispute Resolution etc. I graduated from my law school with distinction and an overall CGPA of 7.1 which put me among the top 15% of my graduating class.
Apace with my pursuit of attaining academic excellence, social work has been an indispensable part of my life. I have been an active member of an NGO – Maitri where I would impart education to underprivileged children. I am also a volunteer for NGOs – Teach for India and Action for Community Development – that help train people from lower income groups in basic communication skills and secure appropriate jobs.
At law school I had the opportunity to combine my theoretical knowledge with practical learning. I successfully completed internships with the top law firms in India such as DSK Legal, Khaitan & Co., Luthra & Luthra, Kocchar & Co., and Trust Legal. Through these internships, I was able to equip myself with knowledge of various tasks that a corporate lawyer undertakes such as research on laws applicable to different companies, preparation of legal opinions on feasibility of ventures undertaken as well as drafting of documents for companies involved in progressive stages of litigation. Along with gaining knowledge of corporate law, I also explored the field of litigation and worked under eminent lawyers from the Supreme Court of India – Mr. Shivendra Dwivedi, Mr. Suyash Guru, and Mr. M.P. Arora – and gained knowledge and techniques of working through case trials and court proceedings.
In order to further strengthen my skills in the field of corporate law, develop a more global perspective as well as become a more seasoned professional, a law degree from a top university becomes instrumental. Pursuing LL.M. in International Business and Economic Law from Georgetown University helped me develop necessary skills – sound judgment, analytical ability, attention to detail, and logical reasoning – also helped me to realize my goal of working with a leading global legal consulting firm.
During my LLM, out of a batch of 500 students, 2 were selected for a contractual job with the World Bank. I was one of the selected students. During my tenure with the World Bank I learnt in detail about global nature of International Businesses and risk assessment. I made profiles of countries by ranking them in order of their susceptibility to risks and economic strengths.
How did you get your first break?
When I was on the verge of completing my LLM, I was also facing the stress of securing the right job which would compliment my skill set. For securing a job, I started reaching out to eminent partners of leading law firms in India through LinkedIN. I thought it was the best approach to reach the top people directly, whose decisions would pretty much be final. I started sending them brief introductory messages about my profile. Some rejected but a lot of them were very warm and forthcoming. This is how I landed my first job at Trilegal as an Associate.
What were the challenges? How did you address them?
Like every field, the challenge with the field of law is that you never stop studying. Every day is like an exam. The only difference is that what’s at stake is not just passing or failing but someone’s life or means of livelihood. For me the biggest challenge in this field is its dynamic nature and keeping abreast with the latest developments.
I struggled in the beginning with articulating my thoughts in a clear and transparent manner but everyday is still an exam and this is what makes this profession challenging and fun.
Where do you work now?
I currently work as a part of the Projects, Energy and Infrastructure Team at a law firm in Gurgaon. We work on infrastructure projects such as railways, airports, metro, power plants, mineral concessions etc. A typical day for me involves 8-10 hours of work (yes, that’s a minimum), lots of reading and lots of research. We are always trying to find answers to complex issues such as making renewable power more accessible and cheaper, making transportation more readily available, etc.
As a lawyer the first and foremost step in a renewable energy transaction or any other infrastructure project transaction is to make a brief or outline of the work required. This is also termed as business development and used to pitch for work and projects. In this brief we showcase why we are perfect for the job. Next stage is finalising the terms of the transaction, which are commercial, legal, financial etc. All go hand in hand and one cannot work in isolation of the other. Once the building blocks of the transaction are in place, begins the drafting. This is the most crucial aspect of the project. This is what renders life and soul to the project. While drafting we need to pick the side of our client while ensuring that the objective of the client is met withing the aegis of law. The draft is then put to final test and negotiated as both parties try to get the best out of the situation. This is how the project is brought to life.
How does your work benefit the society?
I see my paperwork translate into reality all around me. I see my work in the airport I visit; in the metro I board and in the flyovers I take. I have somewhere contributed a tiny bit in the development of this infrastructure. Hopefully, in the near future, I will see my work translate into flying cars, e-vehicles, hyperloops etc.,
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
Well work generally is more memorable in terms of the recognition that we get for it. I am very proud of the work I undertook for a leading global bank in helping power/electricity travel across borders of countries in a seamless manner. ( confidentiality prevents me from boasting more)
Your advice to students based on your experience?
My advice would be to do what you are passionate about but make sure that your passion is linked to reality and your inner drive. The sky is not the limit the limit is all inside your mind, these walls must be broke.
For now, future plan is to work harder and take each day as a new challenge. I hope to see myself opening a law firm in the future whose motive would be to make life easier for animals around us.