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LexTalk World Talk Show with Sonali Mishra, Independent Lawyer



Sonali Mishra is an Intellectual Property Lawyer with 6+ years of experience in the Entertainment field. She has worked with various media-focussed acclaimed organizations and law firms. She also held the role of an independent counsel, where she advised various start-up production studios and artists for their content licensing strategies. While working as a private practitioner, she is pursuing to become a licensed lawyer in Ontario, Canada to widen the spectrum of her knowledge and reach to the international IP industry. Through such dynamic roles, she has been committed to employ solution focussed approach and cater unique business goals.


Interview:


Host: What motivated you to choose the Legal sector as a domain of work and how has been your career span?


Sonali: As a first-generation lawyer, I didn’t have any mentor back then to direct me in my journey. I belong from a small town called Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and completed my schooling at Krishna Public School in a nearby city, Bhilai. I didn’t have much exposure to any ideal range of subjects let alone law. Post-schooling, like many of the other students in my hometown, I began to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. It was only then by chance I encountered a law student who explained to me about various career paths that can be taken after law school. This challenged my preconceived traditional understanding, and I was intrigued enough to drop out and pursue law instead.


Just like how by chance I happened to drop out to pursue law, I stumbled upon intellectual property rights subject during my early years of career while I was working as a litigation lawyer at a law firm of a Senior Advocate of Bombay High Court, Mr. Haresh Jagtiani. I found this subject to be captivating because of the idea of assisting people to grow and safeguard something that’s valuable to them. This notion till date motivates me to put my best efforts into each deal that I work on.


My aspiration to work in the niche field of IPR also grew with the abundance of diverse opportunities that my professional journey provided to me. I have been in the legal domain for the past 6+ years and have worked with various media-focused acclaimed organizations and law firms. My role has ranged from working as in-house counsel for broadcasters, and OTT platforms to holding the role of independent practitioner. By working in such ever-changing roles, I have adapted a problem-solving approach to handle complex transactions around ownership of the content, especially where the division of ownership is based on dynamic commercial arrangements between the Parties.


I have huge respect for all forms of Art and I am driven to secure rights and create fool proof contracts to enable the rights holder to monetize the content and reap its full benefit. As an independent practitioner, I also started helping out budding production houses with contracts and advising them to secure their rights while accepting investment for the production of their content from various investors.


Currently, while working as a private practitioner, I am pursuing to become a licensed lawyer in Ontario, Canada, to widen the spectrum of my knowledge and expertise, and become part of the global intellectual property industry.


Host: Key lessons or experiences that have enriched you and are currently aiding you in your work profile.


Sonali: While working as an in-house counsel, I have learned the importance of synchronizing business objectives and legal provisions. I have come to understand that it is essential to ensure that legal provisions are well-aligned with the business objectives of the organisation. I believe as a lawyer we can add greater value to the company by taking steps to ensure that legal documents are in line with the company’s goals. This means taking a holistic view of the organisation’s operations and ensuring that legal advice is tied into the overall business strategy. Through my experiences, one more key lesson that I have learned is, how critical it is to analyze and comprehend the context, commercial goal, and background of any deal before beginning to work on it. Having a comprehensive understanding of the details allows me to identify potential risks and a compliance checklist and make meaningful improvements to the documents I’m working on. Even when I am presented with situations, where I am advised to take shortcuts and follow established protocols, I make it a priority to study each case and understand its details to create provisions that effectively protect the interests of my clients. Applying this approach has always proven beneficial in the long term.


Host: What are the different challenges and opportunities that you have or had faced while working in this field?


Sonali: I want to mention here my experience working as in-house counsel for a regional OTT Platform -aha (owned by Arha Media and Broadcasting Private Limited), where I had the opportunity to hone my leadership skills. CEO of Arha, Mr. Ajit Thakur, placed me in a leadership role for the company's legal division, and he demonstrated his trust in me by entrusting me to manage high-stakes production, license, and acquisition contracts independently with acclaimed production houses and international companies.


One of the challenging tasks entrusted to me by Mr. Ajit Thakur was the implementation of new OTT guidelines in the organization i.e. Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, Rules, 2021 issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, within a specific timeframe prescribed by the Ministry. To ensure successful compliance I coordinated and explained in detail the relevant parts of the guidelines to each business team through multiple sessions and devised clear steps and processes to be followed for effective regularization of the Content and the platform per the guidelines.


This challenging task enabled me to develop strong leadership skills and gain deeper insights into the workings of an OTT platform and the underlying process, technology, and functions of Content streaming, which went beyond the paperwork I typically handle as a lawyer.


I am thankful to Mr.Ajit Thakur for empowering me with such incredible opportunities. His spirit to bring out the leader in everyone is truly inspirational and very encouraging to me and others around him

 

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