Interview with Prathamesh Joshi, LLM, Ph.D Scholar & Company Secretary

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Prathamesh Joshi is an experienced Company Secretary with a demonstrated history of working in law firms as well as companies. He is skilled in Opinion Writing, Public Speaking, Contract Drafting, Articles, and Forms. He is a strong administrative professional with a Master of Laws – LLM focused on Banking, Corporate, Finance, and Securities Law and in pursuit of a Ph.D. from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.

Libertatem Magazine spoke to Mr. Joshi about his law school days and get to know his journey. Here is the excerpt from the conversation.

Vidushi: How was your law school experience? What were some things you did in law school that you’d say ended up helping you as a professional?

Mr. Joshi: First and foremost, I am slightly ‘old school’ in my approach towards profession & professionalism. It indeed is agreeable that smart work helps, but I believe that hard work is a subset of smart work. These two are not mutually exclusive. Keeping this as my motto, the very thing which I did in my law school, and which I continue doing professionally is to never say no to any co-curricular work, especially the one that will be an enhancement both to my CV as well as to me personally (my sole CV & my soul CV, if one might).

I have a fondness towards public speaking, and I was lucky enough that the faculty members at Symbiosis Law School, Pune & Institute of Company Secretaries of India, had noticed this novation of mine. Hence, there hardly had been an event in my college, which I hadn’t participated in. This had given me a first-hand approach towards many dignitaries and successful people of our profession. I had a front-row seat and hence could grasp their pearls of wisdom. Moreover, be it elocution competitions, debates, MUNs, or moots, I had made sure that I participate in these. I was fortunate enough to win quite a few of such competitions, and the ones I couldn’t, I ended up exposing myself to worldly views, about several topics, from a host of people belonging to different backgrounds. I would say this pursuit of mine continued even after being a professional which resulted me in bagging the ‘Best Participant’ award at the 23rd Management Skills Orientation Programme of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.

Academic publications are one such avenue for a law student where more is always less. Although corporate law is my preferred topic, it has many facets, and I had made sure that I attempt at publishing at least one paper, in each of these facets. At least, I had an approach wherein my paper should touch upon various topics, be it Company Law, Investment Laws, Labor Laws, Information Technology Law, etc., if not focused upon just one. Today, I am handling a profile of ‘Global Legal Compliances’ and I can assuredly say, that this approach developed, at my embryonic law school days, has helped to have an integrated view while looking at the legal compliances of specific geography.

As a gist, I would, and I do always advise to whomsoever this concern, to always be alert and grab every opportunity that beckons, while at one’s law school. The law school years will pass by in a blink of an eye, and when they do, one should have fewer regrets, at least academically.

Vidushi: While one part of law school revolves around academics, moots, organizing events, research papers and the list is endless, on the other side is the practical exposure that we receive through internships. Many law students have this perception that interning at corporate law firms at an early stage is of no help except bragging rights on their CV because the firms don’t give them actually work as they are only given clerical work which significantly lowers the confidence of law students. Do you have any views on this keeping your own experience in mind?

Mr. Joshi: This might not always be the case. There could have been a few cases where some students may not have received an exposure, but it cannot be used as a blanket statement for every ‘corporate law firm’. Moreover, I would strongly disagree with any law student who looks down upon clerical work, especially at the internship stage. At the initial stages of any career, one has to pull up one’s socks, look down, and do whatever that is offered, with utmost diligence. It is this dedication and meticulousness which starts getting noticed, and work starts flowing. I myself, have interned for shorter durations due to academic commitments, where the system was ironclad and quite methodical, however, the work that I had done there was priceless. My superiors had made sure that I, as a resource, do not get wasted, while also making my qualitative enhancement, a priority. Hence, I did some top-notch research assignments, while also making copies. One should remember that no work is demeaning, it is one’s approach that makes or breaks one.

Vidushi: Sir, you are an experienced Company Secretary with a demonstrated history of working in law firms as well as companies, what would be your piece of advice to the young law school students who aspire to become a Company Secretary? Do you think that being a lawyer as well as qualifying as a Company Secretary, gave you an edge in establishing yourself in the corporate world?

Mr. Joshi: It most certainly does. A degree, coupled with the knowledge attributed from that degree, always helps. However, it will be difficult to quantify how much, and in what way, will such a dual qualification aid one. Having said that, I earnestly recommend having this dual set of degrees, especially for those who want a full-fledged career in the corporate law niche. The depth in which corporate laws are dealt with, in the Company Secretary curriculum gives one a clear understanding of the various nuances of the Corp-Legal field. This will help one become a better professional. Moreover, one should also understand that both these curriculums are difficult, and one needs a certain level of dedication to get good results in these. Hence, more than somebody suggesting having or not having both, this is a matter of pure self-reflection and introspection. It is more of a choice than a decision to be made.

Vidushi: Apart from being a certified Company Secretary, you are also a Ph.D. Scholar. Furthermore, you have experience of teaching in law school for over 5 years. There is a common belief of people that law graduates do L.LM when they want to become an academician. How far is this notion true? How did teaching find its way into your life?

Mr. Joshi: Ph.D. is all about the passion for research and the drive towards one’s selected topic. I am happy that my research topic ‘Critical Analysis of International Taxation and Harmonization of Arm’s Length Pricing’ got selected by Symbiosis International University (for which I was also offered a Research Fellowship). I do believe that there is a lot more that is untapped, and to be explored, in this domain of taxation law, especially on a global scale. It is this same passion and drive, which got me in the field of teaching. As mentioned in an earlier question, I always have had a vigor towards public speaking, and what better way, to harness this skill than to teach. Molding of minds, shaping a vision, and sharing of ideas, are few of the many assets in teaching. I feel blessed to have it as an integral part of my life.

LL.M. as a degree is a gateway into academic life, but it need not necessarily be looked at like that, ‘just a gateway’. I will not cite my example here, as I also am active in the academic profession, however, there are many classmates of mine, who are doing well professionally, without being involved in academics, who could enter their respective professions because of LL.M.

A master’s degree in law lends a huge weightage to a profile. It shows that the individual has developed an eye for R&D. If mobilized properly, it can take one place.

Vidushi: Law is becoming a new commercial industry with the advent of law firms and the students becoming more inclined towards corporate culture. What are your views about these changes you have witnessed over the years?

Mr. Joshi: Before harping on any such labels like ‘commercial industry’, one needs to understand why law firms are on a rise, why a General Counsel these days, is considered to be at par with a CEO or a CFO, why the outlook towards law is ever-changing, and most importantly, why compliance, and corporate culture, these days are used interchangeably!

Many geographies are getting strict with their compliance policies. Especially the information technology laws are being looked at quite minutely. This has increased the expectations of a legal professional. Principally, from consultancy service providers like law firms, an organization expects a maximum output. One will come across many consultants, opining upon different extensions of law, for the same client, the same organization.

The recent COVID-19 crisis has put the world through an unprecedented phase, where many businesses are struggling to survive. Those who manage to, have identified legal compliances, as a huge burden, thus further affecting their businesses. An already present, sound internal legal compliance system, would have helped them cushion this blow, which is the best example of a strengthened value of the legal profession.

For good career prospects today, a legal professional must be dynamic. Such dynamism is the key to survive and thrive in today’s commercial industry.

Vidushi: Recently, the social media platform was buzzing with opinions on Bois locker room which is an Instagram chat room sharing objectionable views on girls and their morphed pictures. How do you see this act as abuse of freedom of speech and expression on social media platforms? What are the legal actions that can be taken to prohibit such activities from happening again in the future?

Mr. Joshi: It was so painful to come to know that after Bois Locker Room had gotten exposed, a ‘Bois Locker Room 2.0’ had surfaced, urging its members to use fake profiles. For centuries, women have been objectified and vilified, and unfortunately, the more the technology advances, the higher such objectification shall rise. It is undebatable that this needs to be curbed. The Social Media Platforms themselves should bring in stricter guidelines towards such miscreants. Most importantly, any person, be it of any gender, should be a sharp-eyed whistle-blower in such cases. Parents too play a critical role in framing the minds of such boys, since their childhood.

These cases happen the world over. For instance, the UK is soon expected to publish the interim codes of practice, and more detailed proposals on the online harms’ regulation.

People tend to forget that freedom of speech and expression, goes hand in hand with the criminal laws of the sovereign. More so, when it is about a sensitive topic like the dignity of women. Such cases should be heard in fast track courts. When the miscreants start witnessing speedy justice, will they think twice, before committing such condemnable acts?

Vidushi: It is often witnessed that Law students are in a kind of dilemma as far as their areas of interest are concerned. This is mainly because they are not able to realize their true interest in an internship which lasts only for a couple of months. What should be the approach of students while studying in the law school and while choosing internships so they can carve out their areas of interest and excel for the kind of jobs they wish to go for? What would be your advice to the Law Students and Law Graduates?

Mr. Joshi: Internships play a vital role in framing one’s understanding of the practical approaches of law. One can experiment with the internships, in the different subject matters of law, for the first two years of law school. However, after this milestone in the journey of a law school is reached, it is expected for one to have had that realization about where one’s professional life will be heading towards. All the energy should be concentrated on the subject matter of liking. The scope for experiments diminishes significantly in this phase of law school. Prospective employers also prefer someone who has prolonged experience in a commonly shared professional subject matter.



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