In Conversation with Sunil Jain, Partner at J. Sagar & Associates

Sunil Jain is a qualified Lawyer, Accountant and Company Secretary. His practice focuses on the area of...

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Sunil Jain is a qualified Lawyer, Accountant and Company Secretary. His practice focuses on the area of Taxes direct and indirect including non-resident ,international taxation, transfer pricing, GST, international trade and customs. He advises on tax efficient structuring of strategic foreign investments; analysis of various India entry options; structuring of secondment of personnel from foreign parent to the Indian subsidiaries; mitigation of permanent establishment exposure and repatriation strategies in respect of royalties, fee for technical services, interest, dividend payments in terms of the relevant international tax treaties; and transfer pricing issues. He also advises on structuring of Venture Capital & Private Equity funds, investments by such funds, and carried interest. His experience covers advice on corporate transactions like slump sale, de-merger, amalgamation, conversion of instruments, buy-back of shares and also restructuring of cross border holding structures for streamlining the structure for investment into India. He sits down for a chat with Legal Desire’s Shruthi Pillai giving his expert advice to students

As I wrap up my interview, I ask him whether he harbours any regrets on not opting for other enriching options his CA and CS would have brought in. He believes that given a choice, he would never chart his journey in a different way. “All of us have to face challenges and along the way we will commit some blunders, but all such experiences are necessary for overall development and learning ”

A. COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR COLLEGE LIFE AND WHY YOU DECIDED TO PURSUE A LEGAL CAREER?

I am not a law graduate with a 5 year course. I started as a student of accountancy and also CS. Later, I ventured into law. At an appropriate s stage, my seniors guided me towards legal profession and corporate law firms in view of multiple qualifications.

B. YOU COMPLETED CA AND CS BEFORE PURSUING LAW. HAVE THESE COURSES HELPED YOU IN YOUR WORK?

Yes, in my case, it did help. A 5 year law course is much more comprehensive and embracing. A 3 year law course in my time needed to be balanced with additional emphasis that came through CA and CS.

C. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO STUDENTS?

All students of law like us should strive for a strong fundamental base of knowledge of all relevant corporate laws and after that one should select a particular field and drive down the exciting journey and long road to specialisation in a particular stream of law. I personally believe and advise that rather than looking at various other courses in parallel, it is useful to focus on what is taught at the law school. Look at other courses like CS etc. only when you perceive a ‘value add’ in terms of knowledge and not necessarily as an automatic differentiator and advantage over peers. It is not an automatic advantage. Same holds true for a LLM course from a foreign university. One must weigh in cost and benefit of pursuing a LLM course from a foreign university. There are many good options coming up in India for masters in law. Nobody can ever defeat or even compete with a lawyer say with only a 5 year law course albeit with strong fundamental knowledge of Indian legal system and an ability to apply the same to various corporate commercial laws to provide solutions to legal issues and problems in an assuring and confidence inspiring manner. In present times, it is important to develop a habit of simplifying complex legal texts into simple meaningful principles that enable easy comprehension by business/commercial folks at the client company level. This indeed is the outline of an incumbent attorney everybody is looking for. Last and most important, if everybody aspires to be a part of a full service corporate law firm in preference to a legal position with companies, very soon we won’t be left with any quality client! Do meditate on the real import of this statement and try to find out how demand and supply calculus pans out in relation to a job with a law firm over a job with a company/industry especially where most seems to be chasing a corporate lawyer position.

D. YOU HAVE WORKED WITH J. SAGAR & ASSOCIATES (JSA) FOR SO LONG. CAN YOU TELL US THE BEST AND WORST THINGS ABOUT WORKING IN A CORPORATE ENVIRONMENT IN GENERAL, AND JSA IN PARTICULAR

It has been a satisfactory learning experience working at JSA. As an institution, JSA is indeed looking to experiment with structures which are different than markets and that in itself makes it exciting working here. Budding lawyers should gear themselves and ready to go through the grind rather than worrying too much about the best and the worst things in a corporate environment. Beyond the individual nature of jobs, one has to apply oneself in a sincere manner at both a law firm and in a legal role at any company.

E. PLEASE TELL US HOW DO YOU APPROACH WORK WITH REGARD TO MANAGEMENT AND DELEGATION.

It is difficult to achieve success if you cannot manage and finds it difficult to delegate. The next generation has to take over some day and need to be prepared to take up the responsibility.

Interviewed By Shruthi Pillai, Legal Desire

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