Creativity, integrity are key to success

How long did you practice law in India before moving to the UK? What are the differences in the way law is practiced in India and in the UK?

While doing my Bachelors degree in Delhi, I started working part-time in a big law firm, Orr Dignam & Company, and later at a US law firm. At that time I was unsure whether I should go on to do an MBA, or qualify into law or chartered accountancy. However, while working for these firms I developed an interest in law.

After I completed my law degree, I wanted a new challenge, so I decided to move to the UK. So to answer your question, I did not practice law in India as such, after qualification.

From my experience of working as a trainee in an Indian firm, I have noted differences in the way law is practiced in India and in the UK. The court system is very organised and systematic in the UK. London is a global centre for financial and legal services. There is a certain quality of professional people here, including lawyers, and the levels of expectation are greater.

There is a greater emphasis on specialisation here, whereas in India the lawyers were more like general practitioners. To an extent, this has changed since I started practicing. India has developed considerably and the work has become more sophisticated as a result.

What motivated you to specialise in corporate law?

My practice is primarily in international litigation and arbitration. While we do act for clients in non-contentious corporate or commercial matters, I would say around 80-90 per cent of our work is relating to commercial disputes. I was attracted to the commercial side of litigation by the experience that I gained, by the clients I interacted with and my interest in commercial and international law.

What are the challenges you faced in the initial phase of your career as a lawyer?

The biggest challenge for me was becoming accustomed to the style of practice in England and the many cultural differences that come with living here.

What are the essential qualities of a good lawyer?

There are many elements to being a good lawyer: Firstly, you must be prepared to make a firm and enduring commitment to the profession. It takes many years to become a good lawyer and there is no shortcut. You will need excellent analytical and personal skills to enable you to interact effectively with clients, colleagues, opponents and judges. To be successful you will also need creativity to be able to find solutions to difficult issues. It is equally important to have integrity. 

How do you handle difficult clients?

Dealing with all types of clients is an important skill. Sometimes clients who come across as difficult are just not being handled in the right way.

Litigation is a demanding, and occasionally distressing, experience. Each client has to be individually managed and given that I mostly represent international clients, including those from India, China, Middle East and Africa, I also need to be aware of the cultural differences. 

Pavani reddy

Managing partner, Zaiwalla & Co Solicitor

Pavani Reddy is the managing partner at Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors. Aged just 36, she is one of the few female Asians to manage an international law firm in London, a commendable achievement in a trade often criticised for its 'old-boys network' environment. Following the interview published in the previous edition, Pavani shares more details about her journey from her childhood in India to establishing herself in the international law industry.

Creativity, integrity are key to success
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