Mr. Sriram Srinivasan, an alumnus of RGNUL, Punjab, did his LLM from Sciences PO(Transnational Arbitration and Dispute Settlement) Paris, France. He is currently working as Stagaire (international arbitration) at the prestigious Winston and Strawn LLP, Paris. Apart from having immense experience in the field of arbitration and he has also worked as a junior associate under the Honorable Additional Solicitor General of India MR. Atmaram NS Nadkarni.
Q.1) What led you to choose the Legal Profession? What were your areas of interest when you were in law school and did you engage in any extra-curricular activities?
Answer: To be very honest, I actually wanted to become a doctor! Law wasn’t on my mind initially, but when I gave the entrance exams for law and cleared CLAT, I realised I would be better served going into this profession.
As for interests, I was always interested in International Arbitration since my second year of college, when I did my first moot. The lure of ADR was impossible to resist as an upcoming law student. And as for extra-curricular activities, well I actually happened to do a few negotiation competitions – which was a very rare choice for students in my college at least! But they were fun, interesting and I ended up winning accolades in both competitions.
Q.2) You have attended 2 international summer schools. How was your experience and in what way did they hone your legal acumen?
Answer: My summer school experience, I’d say, help me to this date. My first summer programme was in LSE, London back in 2016, and it’s the first time I was exposed to foreign commercial laws and approaches towards these kind of laws. Also what is very crucial is that it is like an introduction to foreign education – you can see the difference in styles of teachings. I remember it being my first exposure to the Socratic method of education – wherein instead of noting lectures in class, one would do a selected list of readings before coming to class, which would facilitate discussion.
My second experience was in WIPO, Geneva. I always had a soft spot for IPR – and I would honestly recommend this one for anyone who wants to understand and progress in IP Laws. In all both experiences, though different, had the effect of improving my personality as well. As a legal practioner, it is not just sufficient to know the law, and how to apply it, and all the qualities of being a lawyer, but to also project yourself as knowing them. A lawyer is many things, but the closest definition that can define her/him is legal acumen + personality. These programs help those who do not have such personalities naturally.
Q.3) You have interned at multiple tier-1 law firms in India. What would you suggest to a student about strategizing internships what should one be mindful of while interning at such places?
Answer: I would like to be candid on this. I ended up with CV for all tier 1 law firm internships culminating in work at a tier 1 law firm, but ultimately I only got to do my best work in the firm I would ultimately join. Yes tier 1 law internships are important, but the downside of working with these firms is that you have to deal with a number of co-interns, as well as the scarcity and quality of work. I realized this as an associate when I gave work to my interns, that if I were an intern, I wouldn’t be satisfied.
Which leads us to the question, what even is work. It’s not about being work, you get noticed in tier 1 law firms, or any law firm if you are an asset to the organization. So if your job is to sit and make photocopies, and do small bits of research, it does not help as much in the long run. What I would say is to have an even mix of Tier 1 law firms, and internships with boutiques, where you get a more hands on exposure to the real work a lawyer does. That way you can get noticed faster when you intern at tier 1 law firms.
Q.4) Having worked for Jyoti Sagar & Associates and now for Winston & Strawn, Paris, what is the variance in the French legal world as compared to Indian. What are the areas where Indian law firms lack?
Answer: There isn’t a world of difference in my opinion. The workload is the same!, if not more. Honestly comparing the two worlds is very difficult to do, because there are so many Indian law firms like French firms, and vice-versa. I would say renumeration wise, France clearly outranks India. I would not like to comment on as to what Indian law firms lack, as it is premature to make a comparison having worked for a year in both places, and experiences are subjective. Going back to the earlier point on renumeration, interns are treated better here in the sense that they have way more exposure and responsibilities as compared to an Indian law firm. This makes an easier transition to associate life, I’d say.
Q.5) What is your advice to the freshers who have just entered the industry and are struggling both professionally and what can one do to not become a part of the rat-race?
I’d say don’t sleep on what you are entering into. Yes it is a rat race, and COVID has now dampened many an opportunity. What is interesting of our profession is the need to self-improve everyday. I’d say, just love what you do. Constantly read up on your preferred practice area, attend as many webinars and seminars as you can! If your basics are solid, in terms of law and how to practice it, you can only go up! Best of Luck!