LexTalk World Interviews Mr. Gaurav Sarin. Gaurav is the Founder & Managing Partner at SARIN Partners Advocates & Legal Consultants (the “Firm”). He has more than 18 years of legal experience across diverse practice areas. In his role at the Firm, he brings forth people-oriented skills and drives effort towards serving clients backed by his wealth of knowledge and experience. Gaurav handles General Corporate Advisory, Foreign Direct Investment, Technology, Media & Telecommunication (TMT), Merger & Acquisition, Private Equity, Joint Venture, Labour & Employment, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Civil & Criminal Litigation and White-Collar Crime law practices. Over the span of his commendable career, Gaurav Sarin has assisted many multinational companies across sectors in establishing their presence in India. He has been advising clients in structuring private equity investments, joint ventures, merger & acquisitions, corporate restructuring, conducting legal due diligences, foreign equity participation including their regulatory aspects. He has vast experience of drafting a variety of commercial agreements. Gaurav has been advising international & domestic clients on the aspects relating to foreign direct investment and foreign exchange management laws, company laws, telecom, media & broadcasting laws, information technology laws, labor and employment laws, competition laws, real estate laws, regulatory issues, etc.
Host: Please guide us through your journey as a legal professional so far. What kind of special training or knowledge you have obtained outside your law degree?
Gaurav: I completed my law school from Campus Law Centre Delhi University in the year 2003. Prior to that I did MBA from IMT Ghaziabad and Bachelor of Management Sciences (BMS) from University of Lucknow. I always had the liking for becoming a lawyer as I belong to the family of lawyers. I am the third-generation lawyer in my family now. Immediately after completing my law school, I joined a law firm which dealt in IPR protection and prosecution. From there, I moved to a litigation law firm and thereafter, I moved to couple of top tier corporate law firms.
I always dreamt to go independent and start my own law firm. A year back in the first quarter of 2020, the dream started taking shape and I embarked on my own venture, a full-service law firm with the name SARIN PARTNERS Advocates & Legal Consultants. Like all start-ups, the journey has been full of ups and downs with the pressure of bringing in new clients to the law firm, creating right visibility for law firm in the domestic and international markets, attending to the responsibilities expected from a founder & managing partner, hiring an efficient team, training the staff, providing legal support to clients, waiting for the invoices to get cleared and remaining afloat amidst the unprecedented pandemic.
Here I wish to quote Reid Hoffman who said something interesting about starting a law firm. Hoffman said, “Starting a law firm is like jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down”.
It has been a challenging and fulfilling journey throughout. I thank all my clients for not losing the trust and faith in my capabilities.
My business school baccalaureate and master’s not only helped me with the management skills but also gave me a holistic understanding of numerous business subjects. I did dual specialization in Marketing and Finance. It made my business fundamentals strong and helped me with an out of box thinking.
Host: Tell us about your expertise and throw some light on the areas in which you advise your clients.
Gaurav: I have more than 18 years of legal experience across diverse practice areas. I have been advising foreign & domestic clients on various aspects relating to foreign direct investment and foreign exchange management laws, company laws, telecom, media & broadcasting laws, information technology laws, employment laws, competition laws, real estate laws, regulatory matters, etc. I also advise my clients on white collar crimes and represent clientele before the Supreme Court of India, High Courts, and Trial Courts.
I also advise companies on strategic investments, joint ventures, merger & acquisitions. I expertise in drafting variety of commercial contracts. I also advise telecom, technology, and e-commerce entities on their regulatory aspects, including wireless technology, Other Service Provider (OSP) regulations for IT and ITeS entities, licensing, and regulatory aspects of STPI including privacy and data protection laws. I have advised on the aspects of safety and certification, environment protection and waste disposal, energy efficiency, product labelling and packaging laws for electronic and other products.
I have strong expertise in the field of intellectual property laws, drafting and filing trademarks, copyrights applications including infringement prosecution.
Host: The pandemic saw the courts begin to move towards remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable, and a feasible way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?
Gaurav: The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 forced legal services to shift to online operations in a matter of weeks. The digital transformation was being slowly implemented under various projects of the Indian Government. However, the pandemic outbreak fast forwarded this transformation and we saw court filings, proceedings and even client meetings happening through video conferencing platforms. This is a positive change as all the activities which were done physically could be handled remotely while operating through WFH albeit with few hiccups initially. The necessity is the mother of invention, and everyone found their way with the technology swiftly.
No doubt this is certainly a sustainable model as the technology enabled all the lawyers appear before the courts remotely while sitting in the comfort of their homes, home-offices, and offices. The transformation to online hearing platforms not only helped speed up the justice system but also access to the judicial adjudication. We could appear in most of the courts across India within few minutes. The clients did not need to take the services of local lawyers, could bank upon the lawyers known to them and everything was handled remotely. This reduced the cost associated to litigation and saved lot of time which we all lawyers are made to waste traveling to multiple courts and waiting for the hearings.
I believe that online model of working through use of efficient technology will be the future and should be promoted.
4. How would you rate the current legal system drive towards encouraging access to justice? Is there tangible movement in closing the justice gap?
Gaurav: The current legal system has transformed swiftly to the digital mode however, overhaul of the legal system is the need of the hour. Firstly, we need to move towards compulsory mediation, which is currently applicable in commercial matters. This will reduce the adjudication pressure on the already overburdened courts. Secondly, we need better infrastructure in terms of technology, availability of better physical infrastructure and working conditions in the courts, etc. Thirdly, we need to convert all the courts around the country into digital/ online hybrid courts for all miscellaneous hearings with the exception to evidence and cross-examination. Fourthly, it is important that redundant procedures should be done away with so that the judicial process may be speeded up. The above four aspects will be a great leap towards closing the justice gap.
On the non-contentious side, use of technology such as AI and Machine Learning will make things faster and affordable. Use of technology, implementation of smart contracts for efficiency is the need. I guess a lot of right kind of affordable technology needs to be developed.
5. In the era of legal technology, what are the most common tools used by you?
Gaurav: Over almost two decades of law practice, I have gathered strong skills in drafting corporate documents, agreements, suits, petitions, applications, and various other documents for legal purposes. Hence, my skills are my most common and effective tool. As far as legal research is concerned, the law firm has implemented various licensed technology assisted researching tools such as Supreme Court Cases Online, Manupatra, etc. for efficiency and quality. The law firm also has licensed technology infrastructure for executing legal work.
6. Time is money in the legal profession. How do you ensure to make the best of you time as a lawyer?
Gaurav: Most of my time gets utilized in drafting and advising clients of the law firm. We have a professional work culture within the law firm with flexibility of working hours. The focus is on execution and quality output within the given timelines.