In this interview, she sheds light on her formative years, her love for the dynamicism that comes with being a litigation lawyer, the significance of pure intellectual curiosity and raw hard work and much more.
Trishala: Please tell us about your childhood. How has it shaped you?
Shreni Shetty: Oh I’ve been lucky and privileged in this aspect. I grew up in a very loving family. In my growing years my parents always encouraged me to make my own choices and take my own decisions. They always included me while discussing family or worldly affairs. My father imbibed the habit of reading and spirituality in me, while my mother prepared me for practical applications of the thoughts. I have also been lucky to have wonderful friends who’ve helped and supported me in all stages of life so far and have always loved me unconditionally.
I think all of this has shaped me into what I’m today, what I would like to believe, a passionate, dedicated and compassionate intellectual with fiercely independent thoughts.
Trishala: You have a graduated with degrees in a not-rare-yet-unlikely combination of mass media and law. What made you want to pursue law considering that a career as a journalist is usually glitzier than that of a lawyer?
Shreni Shetty: To be very honest, Law, much like Shakespearean love, happened to me at first sight, when we were first introduced to the Constitution of India in school. At that time I did not understand the intricates of Law (still don’t) and couldn’t comprehend its vastness (again, still don’t!) but I was completely fascinated by it. I was curious and bewildered on how a book which fit my small bag could govern an entire country.
Later everyone told me law was difficult to study (which it was) and that made me choose mass media. I specialised in advertising but my heart wasn’t quite in it. So I decided if I get admission in Government Law College, I’ll do law or else continue with advertising. Nothing was pre-planned.
Trishala: What drew you towards litigation?
Shreni Shetty: Probably Girsham. Maybe I read too much of his work.
On a serious note, I was never cut out for non-lit work. I was always attracted to litigation. It was a happening world for me. No two cases were identical. You have to read more. Prepare differently for every case. Your perspective varies from witness to witness. You have to be the devil’s advocate. It’s just too dynamic and wonderful. You live in the minute. You think on your feet.
You must know by now, litigation is not just what happened in court. That’s just the theatrical climactic part of it. 90% of the work is done behind the scenes. The strategizing, the research, the drafting, the interrogatories, the trial. There are various stages and none boring in the least. I have worked with great minds and seen how they functioned. I have had great seniors who have all selflessly taught and trained me in this field and once I started working on it, it just felt right.
Trishala: What are the attributes that one should cultivate to build a career in litigation?
Shreni Shetty: Same as in all other fields, I presume. Hard work, intelligence, passion and dedication. I would also add patience. You need a lot of that in litigation.
Trishala: You are the partner in dispute resolution at ANB Legal. How do you maintain the equilibrium of your team in the high-pressure road of litigation?
Shreni Shetty: I think an equal distribution of work is very important. It just makes everyone’s life a bit simpler and more organized. It helps the team to be less overworked and also helps reduce the pressure (I have learnt this lesson the hard way). We have been blessed with a good team with dedicated hard-working professionals, so I have always enjoyed working with them.
Trishala: How are you and your team dealing with the COVID-19 enforced lockdown? What are some of the foreseeable roadblocks to online litigation that lawyers need to overcome?
Shreni Shetty: Well, it was a mini-vacation in the beginning, albeit a bit stressful.
We are already facing these roadblocks and are trying our best to bulldoze it aside. Online hearings can be pretty chaotic. The Courts have now started issuing standard operating protocols for conduct during these hearings. We have to also factor in the fact that many in the legal profession, and in our society, are not very savvy with modern technology. This has created certain difficulties in progressing with online litigation.
I feel full-fledged online litigation is not something that can be achieved in a few months, especially not when the people are stressed due to the pandemic and the economy is dipping. What we are doing present, is just one step in the direction of online litigation.
My greatest worry is that the system will probably reset to physical litigation once the pandemic blows over and all that we have learnt and progressed in this filed, would probably be side-lined. That would be truly tragic.
Trishala: What has been the most interesting legal dispute you’ve dealt with until this point in your career?
Shreni Shetty: Every dispute that I have worked on has been quite unique and interesting. Every draft I have worked on has been like a progeny. I really can’t pick one. There have been, disputes under the interpretation of cross border contracts, under high seas trade, construction contracts, oppression and mismanagement and also family disputes. Each more peculiar than the other. You must understand, it’s not just the dispute that makes a case interesting, it is figuring out the relevant laws, interpretation of that law, its applicability and then play in practical scenarios.
It is the entire life cycle of a dispute that makes it an object of curiosity and fascination.
Trishala: Lastly, what are your words to our wise readers and aspiring lawyers? What, according to you are the foundational pillars of a successful professional career?
Shreni Shetty: Read a lot, listen to the great minds around you and learn from it. You are always learning something new, be it in this profession or any other. You have so much information available so easily now.
It’s always your knowledge, hard work and integrity that would take you places. Also, don’t be mechanical and forget empathy. Your life and career are not just your academic or professional achievements, it is also the relationships that you build along the way.
I feel you wouldn’t truly enjoy your achievement and life won’t be worth living if you don’t work on these principles in life.
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