#HerCareers Interview with Jahnavi Kohli
Jahnavi is a Partner at ANB Legal and heads the Private Client Practice including Succession Planning and Real Estate. She is an alumna of K.C College of Law. In a career spanning over a decade and a half, she has worked in traditional law firms across disputes, transactions and advisory work. She is also a doting parent to her daughter.
1. Could you tell us about yourself and how did you decide to get into law?
As someone who tries not to take anything for granted, I strive to get the best possible for myself and people around me, be it colleagues, friends or family. As a woman practicing law in India, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities to pursue a career that is rewarding in more ways than one.
A sense of justice was ingrained in me since early childhood. As a child in school learning about the preamble I was intrigued by the power of words and how they shape our thoughts and destinies and the skill of draftsmen in so beautifully encapsulating what it means to be an individual in a free country based on the values of equality, secularism, democracy and fraternity. The curiosity to find out how justice is administered and innate sense of logical thinking got me to take on law.
2. Could you tell us about your time in law school? What kind of activities did you take up? Favorite subjects? Kind of internships done?
I graduated from K.C. College of Law, Mumbai. My time in Law school was not the entire education I received. Although I was a diligent about my attendance and assignments, within my first year of law school itself I started my internship with a traditional solicitor’s firm in Mumbai. It was there that I signed my articles for the Solicitor’s examination and stuck around for a good 4-5 years. I must admit that there were times that I had moments of doubt. I was not someone who came into the profession with a specific niche in mind. However, the thrill of going to the Hon’ble High Court, working alongside brilliant seniors and learning the nuances of drafting and analyzing the law with a specific end in mind got me hooked. Not every day was exciting, there were long tiring days too but in hindsight I feel that those days were the building blocks of my life in the profession. I also made some lifelong friends during my student days and I have come to learn that having friends in the fraternity is an invaluable asset.
3. What do you enjoy the most about work and the practice area that you are in?
As cliched as it may seem, the ability to help people wade through their situations and reach their objectives is what I do enjoy the most about my work and practice area. Today as Partner at a full-service law firm I am happy to be focusing on practice areas such as Private Client Practice in the realms of Real Estate Transactions, Estate Planning and General Advisory ranging from corporate to family law matters.
Being a peoples’ person, I find it gratifying to meet and work with people from different walks of life, understand their strengths and weaknesses and brainstorm to arrive at the best fit for their individual needs. In my experience I have seen that more often than not most people are not really aware of their rights and the protections available to them under the law. As a lawyer I feel that we are endowed with a special privilege to relieve people of their ignorance and educate them to understand where they stand in the eyes of the law. Often clients do not come to us in happy situations. However, the fact that we come in as problem solvers is what gratifies me the most. The ‘arm chair’ rule is an important part of the legal jurisprudence and I have made it a habit to imbibe that rule when I advise clients. To put myself in the arm chair of the client while providing professional assistance. It makes me look at each day with renewed enthusiasm.
4. What are your thoughts on work life balance? Can women in law have it all?
To me, work life balance is a holistic concept and there is no universal formula for the same. The legal profession is a demanding one and I believe that working with the right team can help you achieve this work life balance. As someone who prefers to see the glass half full, I would say, yes, women in law can achieve what they set out to but arriving at this balance may take time and patience but it is not impossible to achieve.
5. Who is that one woman in law who inspires you the most?
In our profession we get to work with great minds all the time, irrespective of gender or any other divisive factors. That being said, this is one difficult question to answer. However, having given it enough thought I would say Ms. Naheed Carrimjee of M/s. Desai Desai Carrimjee and Mulla, is someone who has had a very meaningful impact on me. Her holistic approach and the fact that through her years of practice she has not lost her empathy is something that I would like to inculcate in myself.
6. What advice would you give to young women lawyers aspiring to have a journey similar to yours?
In a nut shell I would say be firm on your goals, but flexible about your methods. Just because a plan isn't working doesn't mean you need to give up on your goals, maybe just try another route.