Interview with Harry Chawla, Founder of Atlas Law Partners

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Swastika Nandwani
I am a third-year student at NMIMS School of Law, Mumbai. My interest lies in Corporate Law and Alternate Dispute Resolution.

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Mr. Harry Chawla, the founder of Atlas Law Partners has extensive experience in the areas of Banking & Finance, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Real Estate. Harry has advised clients in the banking and financial services sector, the real estate sector, hospitality, health care, automobile, aviation, telecom, IT, ITES, consumer goods etc.

He has advised and represented clients on issues pertaining to corporate finance, both domestic and cross the border, debt restructuring and refinancing, securitization, acquisition finance, structured finance, bonds and similar instruments. He has acted for both lenders and borrowers and been involved in complex transactions involving multiple lenders across jurisdictions.

Mr. Chawla also has wide experience in general corporate and commercial laws. He has worked closely with a large number of international and domestic corporations with respect to their business in India and outside India, in the areas of general commercial advice, mergers & acquisitions, private equity, corporate restructuring, joint ventures, fundraising and commercial contracts, etc.

Libertatem Magazine interviewed Mr. Chawla recently. Below is an excerpt from the same.

Swastika: You completed your Graduation in the Science field. How did you decide to choose Law as a career?

Harry Chawla: I had the opportunity to visit the courts with my grandfather while I was doing my graduation in the science field. I found the courts fascinating and impressive and decided to pursue my career in law. My initial career was as a litigation lawyer before I knew, I moved onto practising corporate law in a firm.

Swastika: You completed your LLB in 1990. Do you feel that the legal education imparted by Law Schools these days are different from that of those times?

Harry Chawla: The legal education these days is far more structured and relevant than it was during my time. The law schools these days provide much emphasis on internships and on the job training, bring in practising lawyers as guest faculties to provide law students with more practical training and also encourage moot court competitions which give law students experience in research and arguments.

Swastika: You have previously worked with big firms like Kochhar & Company and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, and then started your own firm. What made you think beyond the box and start Atlas Law Partner?

Harry Chawla: At the time that we started Atlas Law Partners, it seemed to us that the legal market was ready for a boutique law firm like ours, which provides focussed attention to clients without compromising on the quality of our work product. Our ethos behind setting up Atlas Law Partners was to provide clients with comprehensive and holistic legal advice and navigate them through tricky deals with our well thought out structuring, legal advisory, drafting, and negotiations. Our repeat clients are testimony to the fact that we are able to deliver on our word.

Swastika: The current COVID- 19 situations initially had a negative impact on the Banking Sector as they underperformed significantly. However, after the Government took certain steps such as reduction of Repo Rates leading to lower lending rates, it has paved a way for improvements. What do you think is the future of the Banking Industries post-COVID-19?

Harry Chawla: There will, of course, be a churn and shake-up of the banking industry, new products will come out to better suit the changing market on account of COVID-19. However, our Central Bank, the RBI, has always taken a very balanced approach and I believe they will continue to focus on quality rather than quantity, which will also have a positive impact on the banking industry.

Swastika: You are a member of the New York Bar Association. Do you think that the real estate laws in America are more organised, logical, and flexible as compared to India?

Harry Chawla: In my view, laws in India are equally organized, logical, and flexible in the real estate space, RERA being a recent example. However, it is the enforcement of such laws which remains a challenge for India, including the time involved in such enforcement. Addressing enforcement issues is the need of the hour to make India a globally competitive market.

Swastika: You have assisted the Government of India and a few State Governments in drafting various Legislations. The legislature is often criticized for poorly drafted laws and ambiguity. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with the same?

Harry Chawla: I think the legislature is rightly reaching out to qualified law professionals and on-boarding them in drafting legislation. Often ambiguities are a result of not having dealt with a particular situation before. Our legislature has also proven that it can adapt to the changing environment and amend legislation in order to address any existing loopholes and ambiguities.

Swastika: You have been a guest faculty at IIM Lucknow and have often conducted interactive sessions with students. What is your advice to the students who are currently pursuing law and wish to take up Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions as a career path?

Harry Chawla: I would recommend that law students try and get as much practical experience as they can through internships. Learning the Law is an ongoing process, and apart from working hard in academics to develop a sound knowledge base, it is equally important to gain practical experience so one knows how to apply the knowledge acquired.

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