Interview with Esha Mazumdar, Founding Partner of Curare Legal

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Ms. Esha Mazumdar is an expert in varied areas of law, to name a few Constitutional Law, Civil law, Public Policy, Project Finance, International Trade Law, Administrative Matters and Real Estate Law. She is actively involved in handling and managing teams across the country. She regularly advises clients in Litigation, Advisory and transactional services of the Firm. She has also had the privilege to represent the Government in pivotal matters relating to service/employment disputes. She is also honoured to be appointed as Panel Counsel with the Delhi State Legal Services Authority, New Delhi, to represent indigent persons before the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi relating to environmental matters.

Below is the transcript of the interview we conducted with Ms. Esha.

Aparna: As the founder of Curare legal please tell us about your journey in this profession. What principles did you follow to transform yourself into such a skilled lawyer?

Esha Mazumdar: For me, discipline and hard work are the most important aspects. For example, I cannot take for granted that it is my own firm so I can walk in or walk out at any time I feel like. My team looks up to me to follow the standard which I have set for them. As Thomas A. Edison had rightly said, “there is no substitute for hard work.” I have imbibed hard work as a foundation of my practice. There are no shortcuts to success.

Aparna: What were the biggest challenges you faced while starting up a law firm? How did you overcome those challenges and transmute them into success?

Esha Mazumdar: I am a first-generation lawyer who’s passionate about dispute resolution. So the first thing was, of course, to break even and then increase revenue enough to expand the infrastructure and to be able to pay a respectable amount to juniors, paralegals, etc. I would say the only key is hard work. I hear a lot of people complaining about being first-generation lawyers, I would say that it is 95% hard work and 5% luck. Just focus and make sure you do your work well. In this profession, reputation travels very fast by word of mouth. End of the day, not all clients will be satisfied but even if 90% are, then you can tell yourself you have done a good job.

Aparna: Ma’am, you graduated from the University of Manchester with an LLM in International Business and Commercial law. There is a common assumption amongst the people that the quality of education possessed by foreign universities is higher than that of Indian universities. What is your opinion on such assumptions?

Esha Mazumdar: See it will be wrong to compare because the education system in Indian Universities and Foreign Universities is different. We have a more theory-based approach here but there the approach is more practical. The quality of education definitely is very good here. Foreign Universities would provide you with a different kind of exposure which definitely goes a long way in shaping your personality and opening up the horizons for every student. In my personal experience, due to the solid foundation engrained in me by the education system in India, I had an upper hand amongst peers at the University of Manchester and was able to consistently perform well.

Aparna: As a legal expert in the field of International Commercial Arbitration, please tell us about the proper functioning and how one can excel in this particular section of law as it would help those law students and law graduates who are looking forward to working in the field of international commercial Arbitration.

Esha Mazumdar: Firstly, it is too early to say that I am a legal expert in the field of International Commercial Arbitration. It is actually a very wide filed and I am in the process of learning the nuances of International Commercial Arbitration. Having said that, International Commercial Arbitration has it’s unique challenges and opportunities, it provides its practitioners with multifaceted exposure to varied laws, practices and conventions. The terms of arbitration usually form part of the contract between the parties, which includes the seat of arbitration and the Rules that they want to be governed by. Since International Arbitration provides the parties with an opportunity to agree on procedural matters, it not only grants enormous flexibility but also makes the process fast and efficient. In a nutshell, law students and graduates should take up the challenge to expand their horizon to adapt and adopt to the varied and intersecting practices.

Aparna: Ma’am, in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic many companies are shifting their markets from China to countries like Vietnam and India. Do you think there is a need for any change in our current legislation dealing with international commercial law to increase foreign investments, as the Indian economy is currently facing an economic crisis?

Esha Mazumdar: While it is important to recognize that India has taken remarkable steps to improve the “ease of doing business” in India, we need to strengthen our laws and regulations to stimulate economic growth. We should be able to project India as a leading destination for manufacturing, research & development and ensure expedited access to land, infrastructure and labour to attract major manufacturing companies to invest in India.

Aparna: What qualities do you search for in an intern while recruiting them? Do you prefer interns with high academic qualifications and vast experience or an intern with a positive attitude to learn and give his 100% into a task and has an average academic qualification and experience?

Esha Mazumdar: With respect to internships we are very clear, all we need from them is the complete focus during the hours of work. We get a lot of internship applications, unfortunately, we are not able to invite more than two or three interns at a time, but that extra eye for keenness is what gives some of them an edge over others and academic qualifications are not the only reason and hence, I prefer a personal interaction before approving internships to assess the attitude, motivation and the keenness to learn. I remember one time I was arguing a matter in Delhi High Court. I argued in the first half and then the matter was kept for 3:30 PM, it seemed the Court was not inclined to give the relief in the facts of the case. The intern at that point of time had paid keen attention to the proceedings before the Court and was able to indicate a different viewpoint on the issue at hand and was able to deftly support the same through relevant case laws. I deeply appreciate the freshness of thought and the unconventional thought process.

Aparna: Ma’am, you have acquired your degree of LLM in International Business and Commercial law from the University of Manchester, do you think there’s an upper-hand for the graduates from the foreign universities as compared to the graduates from the National and private universities when it comes to the availability of job opportunities.

Esha Mazumdar: See this question can actually be better answered by someone who applied for a lot of jobs, for me, dispute resolution has always been my first love, I had a chance to work in a good law firm, and then with two good senior advocates. For litigation, all you need to do is sit in the best classroom i.e., courtroom. It does not matter from which University or which college you’ve studied, court craft is best learnt in the courtroom. While assessing applications for our Firm, we examine the overall suitability of the Applicant, including their academic performance, areas of specialization/ areas of interest, interpersonal skills to decide upon their applications.

Aparna: Lastly, please tell us how one can maintain a balance between their professional and personal space to have an efficient work life?

Esha Mazumdar: Honestly, you can ask me this question a few years down the line again because I’m still learning that. My husband and I are both lawyers so inevitably we both carry work home. Especially this profession demands a lot of time, there cannot be timeline-like 9 to 5 in this profession but yes, it is important to take care of one’s health and keep working. At times, I have had client meetings till 10:30 PM at night and then have woken up at 3 AM to prepare for the matters of that day. However, we actively try to maintain an efficient balance between professional and personal workspace.

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