Savitha Kesav Jagadeesan is a partner with Kochhar & Co., Chennai.

She graduated from NLSIU, Bangalore in 1997 after which she did her LLM in Commercial Law, Corporate Governance from Annamalai University, Chennai. With a never say no attitude, she pursued her postgraduate diploma in Cybercrime and Cyber Forensics, Cybercrime and Policing from NLSIU, Bangalore in 2015.

She has gained a wide area of expertise over the years involving Corporate Advisory Services, Joint Venture Agreements, Intellectual Property Audit, India Investment strategies, mentors start ups on their funding rounds, and pursues cybercrime and security issues as her passion.

In this interview, she has been kind enough to take us through her journey and help law students understand what is required of them during the recruitment process.

1) When asked to introduce oneself, what would you expect a candidate to say? If you could explain that by introducing yourself to our readers.

The introduction of the candidate should always be simple and precise. Since you do know you are being interviewed for a position it is important that you talk a little about your journey –such as why you chose law, the reason for choosing your law school and what ignites you or excites you.
Please refrain from using references such as “myself”…/Me…

Simple would be “Good morning/evening. Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you (all). My name is [ ] and (talk about your graduation with key area of expertise). If you are out of town, you can talk about how much you have learnt or are learning in the new city. Avoid clichés..

2) As someone who has expertise in both Intellectual Property and Corporate Law, which one do you enjoy better?

Both areas are very different, so it is like comparing apples and oranges. Each area of law has a distinct flavour, and one has to realise if the flavour is of our liking. For me the Intellectual Property law throws open a distinct area of business strategy and brand building that I enjoy. I find it fascinating that a particular word by itself can protect, create tremendous revenue and describe an entity on itself.

Corporate law on the other hand, has evolved so much over the years that one requires to understand the business, the entity and its ethos while advising on the client. So this makes it a very interesting area of law, as there are numerous branches, and each day you will discover something new.

3) You finished your postgraduate diploma in Cybercrime and Cyber Forensics last year. What drove you into doing it at this stage in your career? What is your advise to others who feel it is too late to pursue their passion?

Actually cybercrime, has been my passion, that unfortunately I have not pursued holistically in terms of my career graph. However I have studied it, and pursued its evolution, because I love the subject and the nuances that it springs forth….In fact I was picked by Monash University, Australia, to pursue my doctoral studies in 2004 and therefore the interest stems from then on…I have pursued that interest by writing articles, speaking on the subject and of course doing the diploma.

4) You mentor start ups during their funding rounds. Your take on the Indian startup ecosystem? How has your experience of working with them been?

Well the start up eco system has a raw energy, that I hope sustains it. The difference you will feel is when you are talking to most of the young entrepreneurs is their belief in their ideas, their ability to want to do something beyond the normal, I think that was the reason I started mentoring them. Each startup has a story, and whether the same is a success story or not, or become a unicorn, the sheer fact that in each of us there is an entrepreneur and we can actually make something of a pure idea makes it exciting.

The Indian eco-system is extremely fast growing, my concern has only been on the hype and the astronomical valuations. I hope there  are more realistic ways to measure the success of a start up, and that the eco-system sustains itself, otherwise we might see the same dotcom boom and bust that happened in the nineties.

Experience as already said above, amazing….there is a buzz around them, some of the issues they face or their businesses face, gives you the necessity to go beyond what you know and come up with answers.

5) What is the work environment like at Kochhar& Co.?

Well Kochhar & Co., work environment at Chennai is definitely superb. We work as a team, there is no partner associate divide but an understanding that we are a team…and I think that is an essential to any successful transaction.

6) What is the process of recruitment at Kochhar & Co.? 

Kochhar & Co., rarely take fresh graduates, unless they have interned and gel with our work culture, which is client responsiveness.

As such the recruitment process, is interview, written test and couple of rounds of further interviews.

7) Do you prefer candidates that come through referral? Is there a college preference while selecting a candidate?

No the preference is purely to a candidate on merit. In fact I myself, have sent off candidates with referrals as they don’t make a cut.

College preference is not followed, the CV, the manner in which the candidate conducts himself during the process of the recruitment, wins top marks.

8) Would you be impressed with a CV of a topper or a CV that boasts of moot court achievements and paper publications?

Actually I would be impressed with one of accomplishments in co-curricular, speaks more about the individual than pure marks. I also think personality counts, as well as ability to think on your feet.

9) During an interview process, what is it that you are expecting from the candidate? Has there ever been an answer that you were particularly impressed with during an interview session with a candidate?

Like I said earlier, a decorum, responsiveness of the candidate, interest measure and of course ability to respond to the questions posed. I would expect the candidate to know why he/she chose the law firm and what he/she has in mind for himself/herself in the future.

An answer that impressed me, I think when the candidate came clean that the agreement he has cited in his CV was a one off, and therefore he came across a candidate willing to learn, honest and eager.

10) What is your advice to those who want to get into the corporate field? How must they prepare themselves for it?

Precise knowledge of where or what they want for themselves.
Research the firms and their ethos.
Research the areas of laws and where you would see yourself.
Choose cities for exposure
Do not be complacent, jump at every opportunity to grab work.
Never undermine your colleagues and learn team work. An I does not take you far.

11) Your advice to students who want to master that internship at Kochhar& Co.? What would make them notable enough to get a call back?

Responsiveness, thoroughness in their work and ability to find solutions to the work given. Complete work and ask for more. Never say no to any kind of work.

11) Is there an opening at Kochhar& Co. presently? Where should candidates looking for job/internship opportunities contact?

There are always openings at law firms, you just need to be at aright place at a right time. The best way is talk to your peers, find key personnel/partners in that firm and approach them. Most law firms have an online facility to explore careers with them, and Good HR personnel, you can write to directly, same is the case at Kochhar & Co.

12) Any parting words of wisdom to law students gearing up for the recruitment process?

Never say no to any kind of work, learn, don’t think of what you are making but what you can learn.

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