Libertatem Magazine

Interview with Unnati Agrawal, Principal Associate at J. Sagar Associates, New Delhi

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Unnati Agrawal is an experienced competition lawyer with more than seven years of experience as a qualified lawyer. She has advised various major corporates, banks and financial institutions in relation to a broad range of competition law matters. She has represented clients in several complex and high-profile antitrust litigations before the Competition Commission of India (including Director General (Investigation)), appellate tribunal, High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. She has also advised and represented companies in cartel leniency cases and market abuse investigations including competition concerns in various types of commercial agreements.

She routinely advises on M&A transactions from competition law perspective by devising company’s merger control strategy and obtaining approval from the Competition Commission of India. Further, she has advised multinational corporations in relation to formulation of their competition law compliance policies and conducted compliance audits. She also advises multinational corporations in relation to a whole range of competition issues (contentious as well as advisory) in a variety of sectors.

Miss Agrawal holds a master’s degree in Competition law from Kings College, London, where she has had the good fortune of receiving tutelage from Prof. Richard Whish in EU and UK Competition Law. Before joining JSA, she was with Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (erstwhile Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co.). 

Libertatem Magazine got fortunate to get her Interview. Below is the copy of the same.

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this Interview are personal.

Lavanya Ambalkar: Please tell our readers something about how law school was for you and were you inclined towards the corporate sector since the beginning?

Unnati Agrawal: I did my graduation at Indian Law Society’s Law College (ILS). During my time at ILS, I was interested in human rights law and had little interest in the corporate sector. I got interested in competition law and got motivated for a career in the corporate sector only while pursuing my masters at King’s College London.

LA: There are a lot of law students who want to pursue their career in the corporate field, alongside qualifying as Company Secretaries, (CS.) However, not a lot of them manage to become Company secretaries along with securing their law degrees. They have developed this mindset that fetching a high paid job in the corporate sector will necessarily require them to obtain a CA/CS qualification along with their law degree. Do you think that ideology is correct?

UA: In my opinion, the CA/CS qualification is not a pre-requisite for getting a good corporate job. However, it certainly is an added advantage and may provide for wider employment opportunities not only in law firms but also in companies. Even if someone pursues CA/CS and does not obtain certification, they should not get disheartened as they can leverage that knowledge and provide a more holistic solution while practicing law.

LA: Students these days put their effort into building CVs with Moot Courts, Debates, Paper Presentation, etc. Do you think that a good CV is the only factor responsible for a law student’s success nowadays or should they focus more on a mix of activities such as a variety of internships such as in Courts, Law Firms, and Corporates?

UA: The way I look at it, internships serve a different purpose from moot courts, debates, paper presentations, etc. Different internships (litigation, law firms, and companies) will provide students an opportunity to experience first-hand the work and work culture in each of these sectors. Once they have figured out what excites them, they can participate in relevant moot courts, debates, etc. to demonstrate focus and expertise in their chosen field to their prospective employers.

LA: A lot of law students perceive that working in a corporate means less struggle, more money. They think that the litigation and judiciary fields require a lot of struggle and patience and may not be able to give them the desired financial outcome at the end. Hence, a lot of people look forward to the corporate sector even if they might be more interested in criminal law, for instance. Do you think that is true?

UA: Each sector has a unique set of advantages and challenges. It is a trade-off and depends on the aptitude and aspiration of every individual. For a satisfactory and fulfilling career, I would advise law students to follow their genuine interests rather than any perceived short-term benefits.

LA: What kind of experience has it been for you, working in JSA law, a firm which every law student/graduate aspires to be in?

UA: My experience at JSA has been fantastic. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on a plethora of exciting matters under the mentorship of experienced and well-regarded partners, alongside supportive colleagues.

LA: You have worked in Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas too, which is again looked upon with great respect as a firm. How do you think the work culture is different at both the firms if it is?

UA: It is a misnomer that the work culture of an entire law firm is the same. Every law firm comprises of several teams and every team has unique dynamics. Hence, it is not feasible to compare the work culture of both law firms.

LA: What would be your advice to the budding lawyers seeking to become a brilliant corporate lawyer like you?

UA: I would advise them to concentrate and build on their skillset instead of getting bogged down by what their peers are up to. The differentiating factor for success is not the law school or the number of moots/ debates but the attitude of an individual. If one is confident, hardworking, eager to learn, and tenacious, I am positive she/he will have a great career trajectory.

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