India, inspite of being a powerhouse of creative talent, lags far behind in terms of protecting the legal rights of creative artists or giving them due credit, which in turn impacts their long term sustainability in a hyper-competitive industry.
Shravani Deshmukh, our next pathbreaker, helps creators, individual inventors and small scale companies to identify, create and protect their Intellectual Property.
Shravani talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about growing up appreciating art in all its forms and deciding to make a career in Intellectual Property as well as Fashion and Art Law after realizing how undervalued the creative industry is.
For students, we have all grown up listening to our favourite music, now is the time to give back our appreciation by supporting innovation and creativity !
Shravani, tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in Nagpur, Maharashtra. I studied in a really good school where there was a perfect mix of all kinds of students.
Throughout my school life, I was extremely involved in all types of extracurricular activities, especially dance. I tried my hand at all kinds of sports starting from chess, table-tennis, volleyball and badminton. I was also the Head of the Cultural Committee in our school. My parents always encouraged us to take part in all sorts of activities and that helped me to understand that “All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy” is indeed true.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
I have done my graduation in Law from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. The degree is an integrated degree of 5 years, called BBA LLB.
What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?
I wanted to choose a career option which would not restrict me to just the subjects I chose. I wanted it to be a wholesome experience. I have always been passionate about helping people and I never think twice before extending a helping hand. As someone who loves to appreciate art in all forms, I never understood why artists are not given enough recognition. This also made me realize that a lot of artists are not aware of the kind of rights they have over their creations. That’s when I thought of pursuing something which can help and promote these intellectual creations by artists or small scale companies.
Choosing to make a career in Intellectual Property and Fashion and Art Laws was a decision that I made after realizing how undervalued the creative industry is in our country.
My elder brother played a huge role in helping me decide a career path which aligns with my interests. Like most 11th and 12th graders, I was confused about what I wanted to pursue. My brother sat me down and understood the kind of things that interested me. Both of us researched about the different courses that would work best for me and I finally decided on doing Law.
I had taken up Science in my 11th and 12th junior college. By the end of 11th grade, I was pretty sure that I did not want to take it up as my choice of career. I wanted to do something which will help and make an impact in society. I would go to the coaching classes and never felt that I belonged in that crowd. As soon as I started attending my Law Entrance exam coaching, I immediately felt like I belonged there. That’s how I knew I was on the right track.
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
I only came to know about my field, Intellectual Property (IP) Law when I was in Law School and was quite fascinated by the different types of IPs (Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and so on). I studied and read more about them and by the 3rd year of my law school, I decided that I wanted to make my career in it. Since then, I concentrated all of my internships in the Intellectual Property teams of law firms.
In the 1st and 2nd year of law school, I interned with non-profit organizations, as legal knowledge is very limited at that point. After completing my 2nd year, I started applying and interning with law firms. I kept an open attitude and did various kinds of internships in different teams of the law firms. Finally, by the end of the 3rd year, I concentrated only on IP based internships.
Since the very first internship, I got the exposure to work with some really good professionals who took the time out to explain to me the practical aspects and implementation of the concerned laws. Something which isn’t always covered in classrooms. All the internships that I did during my law school gave me a lot of new things to learn and think about which I could use in my professional life as well. They also helped me to get accustomed to a professional setup as we would be working with actual Associates and Partners.
The key factor when it comes to internships and Law School is to be consistent and not lose hope. You may find yourself in a position where you are unable to get your desired internship but it is extremely important to believe in yourself and your passion.
How did you get your first break?
I got my first break after applying to different law firms. I did not sit for the college placements as there were not any opportunities pertaining to the field of my choice. It was a long process as most firms look for some amount of experience and always hesitate to hire freshers. Eventually, I did get through and started working in an IP firm based out of Mumbai.
What were the challenges? How did you address them?
Challenge 1: Accepting rejection. More often than not, firms will not take your application forward or even reply to your mails/follow-ups. It took some time for me to get used to it, but i eventually had to grow a thick skin. Throughout Law School, this was a constant thing that we had to face. Rejection is a great lesson to learn from and I tried to keep a positive attitude and kept working towards my goal.
Challenge 2: Not always getting the work that you might want/like. As a fresher in any firm/company, you may not be asked about your work preferences. You are just given all types of work. It is important to keep an open mind and learn on the job. Most of the things that you learn in internships become a part of your professional life after graduating. As I mentioned earlier, I interned with different teams of law firms and that helped me to decide what fields of law I might not be interested in. Once I was sure about the field of law that I want to pursue, I put my soul into it and enjoyed every bit of the work that came with it.
Where do you work now? Tell us what you do?
I am part of the founding team of the company that I work with currently; it is an IP company called Create & Protect IP Partners.
We help creators, individual inventors, small scale companies to identify, create and protect their Intellectual Property.
In a niche field like IP, it is necessary to not just understand the required laws, but also the market. Market research is the first step to protect any form of IP. So, a basic knowledge about what is going on around your client’s business and how to optimize that information and use it in favour of your client is an extremely important part of our job.
After graduation, I started taking online courses to upgrade my knowledge in the field. During this time, I also got to explore new fields within IP and came across Fashion and Art Law. The access to these courses helped me to dive into a more creative field which correlates with my interest in Fashion. These courses helped me gain a worldly perspective on these topics and made me understand how our Country has a long way to go when it comes to protecting the rights of people in the creative industry.
What is a typical day like?
A typical day at the moment is filled with calls and meetings. We like to keep our clients updated with their work. We want them to be involved and understand the procedure and the work that goes behind the protection of their brand or invention. A typical day is also filled with a lot of research and reading. When you are in a field like this, you need to be constantly updated with the vibrantly changing and creative world.
What is it you love about this job?
I love that it does not restrict me to just the legal industry. Everything around us is the result of someone’s Intellectual Property. It is fascinating to work with people who have amazing ideas that they want to protect and bring to the people.
How does your work benefit society?
At CPIP, we do not just protect IP but also try and make an effort to spread the awareness about the protection of IP. A lot of brands hesitate to take legal advice in relation to Intellectual Property. We try and make that information accessible and easy. On our website, we write blog articles in simple language so that people outside of the legal industry can understand different concepts of Intellectual Property and the importance of protection of their IP.
We also plan on bringing more industry specific content to explain the basics of how IP is a great long-term investment for your intellectual creation.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
I consider every project and client to be memorable. I believe that it is necessary to connect with them to understand what they want. That makes every project different from the previous one and definitely memorable.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
Never lose hope. It’s a very common thing said by almost everyone but it holds true. Every bad phase will pass and you will get to the other side. If you are passionate about something, trust in yourself and give it your all. I had plenty of opportunities to go ahead and pursue other fields of law but I stuck to my choice and it feels great. Being able to enjoy your work every day is a huge privilege in the world that we live in today.
Our generation is extremely lucky because the economy around us is neither production-based nor consumer-based; it is a mix of both and really is creator-friendly. Take a chance and believe in everything you do.
I plan to spread as much awareness about Intellectual Property and Fashion and Art Laws as is my capacity. It is very important to protect your Intellectual creation and prevent wrongful use of it by anyone.