In Conversation with Arjun Krishnan of Samvad Partners

June 24, 2024
In Conversation with Arjun Krishnan of Samvad Partners

Can you share three specific moments that you feel shaped your professional trajectory? 

  1. My late father advised me to write the entrance exam for NLSIU, Bangalore. I did not know very much about being a lawyer, but at the time it seemed quite different from what a lot of other friends at school were doing. In a sense, I blindly trusted by dad on this – and I’m glad I did. It set me on the path that I am walking today.
  2. Working in the office of an excellent senior counsel – it was an incredible learning experience, and amazing exposure. For part of my time with him, he was the Additional Solicitor General and I was a panel counsel for the Union of India. It was a wonderful opportunity, early on in my career, for which I am very grateful.
  3. One pivotal case I did was relating to license to play music by radio broadcasters, in the Supreme Court. The reason why its important for me is that this matter gave me the confidence that I could manage the practice of law and venture out on my own. For a first generation lawyer, this was an important milestone.

Describe one challenging assignment in your legal career. Can you provide some details about how you approached and overcame the challenges?

There have been quite a few. One recent example is a cross border copyright litigation we were handled last year. It was a bitter fight between rivals in the US, which also had an India angle. I remember having sleepless nights, because the atmosphere was quite tense at times. What was said in the Indian courtroom would be repeated (and often twisted or misrepresented) before a US judge. It made me realise that arguments had to be balanced and carefully measured, keeping in mind not just how the argument would sound to an Indian judge, but also when narrated to an American judge. Legal strategy was extremely important in this case, and the reason why we ultimately succeeded.

How do you see technology shaping the future of legal practice?

I think the problem is that technology is changing things so quickly that we are not able to foresee what legal practice is going to look like in the years to come. Some changes which we take for granted – online hearings for instance – have been a product of not just technology but necessity (due to the Covid pandemic, for example). AI is obviously going to be a game changer in the near future. It may mean that some legal tasks are automated, and one day we will forget that we ever had to do such things like drafting, or research while poring over law reports and textbooks.

Everyone gives tips on what to do. We would like to ask about the don’ts! Based on your experience, what do you feel are some of the things not to do, if one is to become a successful lawyer?

There are a couple of things – 

  1. We should never be too confident of our positions. Over time, what seems like a strong position changes – the law changes, new facts emerge. Similarly, we should never underestimate others – particularly other lawyers, and clients too.
  2. How you behave with others is important. Not only for reasons of politeness and etiquette but other reasons as well. If you come of as rude, people may remember. Tomorrow that person may be a judge or authority before whom you have to argue matters.

Can you share the impact mentorship had on your professional journey? In your current role, what are the opportunities you get to mentor young talent?

I have benefitted immensely from having a great mentor. My mentor is Gourab Banerji, Senior Advocate, who taught me a great deal about law and the practice of law. A lot of skills that are very important are not taught in law schools. How to go about reading and preparing a brief, how to identify case law, appreciating the facts of the case, presentation – a lot of these skills I learned from Gourab Banerji. I owe him a great deal, all of which cannot be expressed in words.

At Samvad Partners, mentoring is an integral part of our culture. I am proud to have mentored some brilliant legal minds. One of my junior colleagues, Ankur Singh has risen through the ranks, and his now himself a partner. It is something that gives me a lot of satisfaction. I hope I will continue to get the opportunity to mentor others in their professional journey. There is a process of learning for the mentor as well – it is not one way traffic.


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share your details to Register For the Upcoming Event