Smita Singh is presently Partner at Ashok Dhingra Associates (“ADA”), currently based out of Gurgaon.

She is leading practice group in Indirect Taxes and Goods and Service Tax. She also handles matters pertaining to Customs and Trade Laws, Regulatory Laws, Money Laundering and Anti-Corruption Laws, providing both litigation and the advisory services.

Smita also advises clients in relation to structuring operating model and providing options to mitigate Indirect Taxes costs and the Foreign Trade Policy. She has worked extensively matters related to Special Economic Zones/ Export Oriented Units.

Smita appears before the Customs, Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunals, High Court and Supreme Court and also before various regulatory authorities in Regulatory & Trade Matters such as the DGAD, DG Safeguards, the PMLA.

She started her career as an Associate with Khaitan & Co., Bengaluru and then shifted to Delhi. Thereafter she worked as an Associate and Senior Associate with J. Sagar Associates (“JSA”). Smita was Partner in JSA before joining ADA. Her articles are published in in Taxindiaonline, Bar & Bench and Business World.

Smita Singh completed her B.A. (Hons.) from Delhi University after which she completed law from Faculty of Law, Delhi University in the year 2006.

She has been kind enough to share her journey with us and guide law students on how to navigate their career path.

1. How would you like to introduce yourself? If you could answer that by also explaining what you would expect a candidate to say when asked this question.

I am Smita Singh, currently Partner with ADA which is boutique firm concentrating in Indirect Taxes, GST, Customs & Trade and Anti – Corruption and Fraud Investigation. I have more than 10 years of experience in Indirect Taxes, Customs, Trade & Regulatory Laws. I have worked earlier with Khaitan & Co. and JSA in Indirect Taxes, Customs & Trade matters.

I expect a candidate to give a brief background of themselves, area of expertise/ interest and work done by them. Thereafter detail on specific assignments can be provided to give an idea to the recruiter about his/ her experience.

2. You were at J. Sagar Associates for a long period of time? How was the experience?

JSA was an enriching experience for me. I started as an Associate there and left as a Partner, so JSA will always be special. Jyoti Sagar has been an inspiration and working with him has been motivating.

3. You did B.A. and then went ahead and did LLB. What motivated you to take up law?

I always wanted to do law. But before plunging straight into it, I wanted to be really sure about my decision. So, I did B.A. (Hons.) first instead of enrolling in a 5 year LLB course.

4. What is your advice to law students/lawyers who are interested in tax laws. How must they prepare themselves?

I would say that Taxation is a dynamic field where changes happen regularly. So, students who are keen on this subject should have the basics right. Rest will be taken care with experience.

5. You moved to Ashok Dhingra Associates almost two and a half years back. How has the experience been?

It was a big change. However, the responsibilities have increased since we are a new set up and are competing with top law firms and Big 4 to retain existing clients and also expand our horizon. So far we have done well and hope for the best in future.

6. What is the recruitment process like at Ashok Dhingra Associates? Do you prefer candidates that come through reference?

We are a very transparent process driven Firm. I am also looking at the HR function of ADA. While we register to HR consultants in case of requirement, a good candidate through reference is also interviewed and goes through the same process as others. We want people with long term prospective to join us.

7. Is there a college preference while recruiting?

Although students from National Law Schools are preferred, but there is no hard and fast rule right now.

What according to you is a good CV? That of a topper or one with extra curricular activities such as moot court achievements and paper publications.

We look for people who are not just academically very good, but also with good communication and writing skills. So, I would say mix of both.

8. What do you expect from a candidate during an interview process? Any answer that you have been particularly impressed with?

We expect the candidate to be presentable and having good communication skills and have dedication to learn. As I said in Taxation, at least some basic idea about the legislation and other concepts should be there in a fresh candidate having no experience. Rest can be worked upon.

9. What is your advice to interns at Ashok Dhingra Associates? What will make them worthy enough for a call back?

Just focus on the basic concepts, always read the legislation first and then draw your judgement from other sources.

10. Is Ashok Dhingra Associates presently recruiting? Where should candidates looking for job or internship opportunities contact?

Currently we are closed for the year.

11. Any other words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?

I would just like to say that any career should be taken up because of interest and not peer pressure or because that’s ‘in’. We all have to be in office for more than 8-10 hours daily, and if we have no interest in what we are doing or just passing with the motion, the person will never be satisfied. So chose your career/ field wisely and give it your best.

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