India has the world’s second-largest legal profession with a high number of practising lawyers and aspirants in this profession. The predominant service providers are individual lawyers and proficient legal firms that are driving the law industry with efficient legal solutions for their clients.
The conception of legal services as a ‘noble profession’ rather than services resulted in the formulation of stringent and restrictive regulatory machinery. These regulations have been justified on the grounds of public policy and the dignity of the profession.
On the other hand, globalization brought a revolution in international trades with enhancing participation and engagement of countries and greater access to domestic economies. The implication of the same on the legal service sector has been quantitative and qualitative as well.
The past decade has been like a mini-revolution in the legal service sector with a greater impact on the corporate legal arena. Legal activities in project financing, intellectual property protection, environmental protection, competition law, corporate taxation, infrastructure contract, corporate governance, and law investment were almost unknown. The number of law firms capable of dealing with such work was very few. This is where ALMT Legal came into the picture.
ALMT Legal is a full-service law firm and is reputed for its exceptional legal solutions in this space with seventy legal professionals and twenty partners across finance capital cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru. They are currently providing their proficient legal solutions among their clients which also include financial organizations and IT industries.
In an exclusive interview with Insights Success, Junia Sebastian, Partner of ALMT Legal, sheds light on the company’s journey, the current industry scenario, and her opinions on the future of the company.
Please describe our audience about ALMT Legal in detail.
ALMT Legal is a dynamic and progressive full-service Indian law firm that provides high-quality Indian expertise with an international capability. ALMT has established a reputation as one of India’s top bracket firms with approximately 70 lawyers and 20 partners across offices in strategic commercial centres like Mumbai and Bangalore.
ALMT’s practise areas encompass all aspects of Indian law ranging from corporate, commercial tax, employment, dispute resolution, real estate, shipping, aviation, intellectual property laws, media, entertainment, sports law, and even immigration laws.
Junia, please shed some light on your professional tenure in the law space.
I was admitted to the Bar in 2001 after receiving BA and BL degree from Dr Ambedkar Government Law College in Chennai. I completed my master’s in international law and Constitutional law from the University of Madras in 2003. Currently, I am leading the corporate-commercial team of ALMT Bengaluru.
I have extensively worked on various employment law matters including those arising because of business transfers, integration of acquired businesses and internal compliance audits.
In this regard, I have drafted and advised on employment-related documentation including ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), Employee Policies and Code of Conduct, Employee Contracts for senior managers, and service agreements. I endeavour to do a lot of work in the field of prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace.
What made you venture into the legal space?
From an early age, I was enthusiastic about fairness and justice. I was also fascinated and influenced by the stories of some of the brilliant leaders from across the world who were highly focused on diplomacy.
I was looking for serious challenges and felt I was on the right path when I chose to be a lawyer. I felt being a lawyer would give me a career that would fulfil my passion.
However, it is the dynamic and challenging legal landscape that makes my everyday ‘unique and fulfilling.’
What kind of services do you provide to your clients?
I have advised and assisted several clients in establishing their presence in India and overseas jurisdictions through incorporations of companies and/or setting up branch/liaison offices.
As a lawyer, I am engaged in the filing of applications for approvals and reporting with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and Reserve Bank of India.
I have substantial experience around commercial law and law of contracts, which includes drafting and reviewing a broad range of commercial contracts including joint venture agreements, teaming agreements, service agreements, technology and trademark agreements, supply and distribution contracts and marketing contracts.
My experience in the Information Technology (IT) sector involves drafting and reviewing agreements including software vendor contracts, software license agreements, service level agreements, confidentiality agreements, consultancy agreements.
Currently, I specialize in corporate and employment law and deal concerning various compliances and documentation relating to employment and labour laws. I have conducted labour due diligence on various entities and helped my clients to identify gaps or deficiencies in their current compliances.
From educating my clients on the applicable laws and drafting the appropriate policies for them, as being a member of their Internal Committee (IC), I have undertaken an advisory role on all aspects of the prevalent issue of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
What kind of challenges have you faced while entering the legal space?
Being a first-generation lawyer and coming from a challenging background, I had to prove my existence every day in this profession. I had to swim against all odds in terms of learning new aspects of corporate and employment laws as well as establishing myself solidly in this profession.
In today’s world of male dominance, I had to ensure that I am one step ahead of my counterparts and have knowledge and skills sets to face legal challenges and requirements.
How much ALMT Legal was affected in these pandemic times and what were the steps taken by you to curb all the damages while helping your clients and maintaining the safety of your employees?
Like everyone else in the world, the pandemic impacted the functioning of our firm especially when the lock-down restrictions were imposed. The first lockdown caught us completely off-guard. Some of our staff and employees struggled especially as there were lots of dependencies in terms of office infrastructure.
We have streamlined such dependencies enabling everyone to seamlessly switch over to a remote working model depending on requirements. Keeping in mind the safety of all our employees and clients, we have taken the most appropriate steps and protocols.
What would you like to advise the young generation of legal enthusiasts?
My advice to the young generation of legal enthusiasts would be that there is no substitute for arduous work. One can achieve the heights of success only upon putting effort into what you do.
Where do you envision ALMT Legal eventually, what are your future goals and how do you plan to embrace the changes happening in your industry?
I envision my firm to have global offices and manage international clients and their various requirements. The legal field is ever evolving, and it throws many challenges to lawyers.
We, as lawyers need to be ready and prepared to find the right legal solution to newer and complex issues, especially while dealing with cross border transactions that involve different countries and laws.
What is the current industrial scenario of the legal space?
The current industrial scenario of the legal space is evolving and this, of course, requires legal solutions. With remote and collaborative working models, the challenges have expanded to data privacy laws involving different jurisdictions.