#HerCareers interview with Parveen Mahtani on in-house practice
Parveen Mahtani is the Chief Legal Officer of Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd. A gold medallist in law from Mumbai University, Parveen previously worked with Tata Housing Development Company and Tata Realty. She has received many accolades in her professional life including being honoured in the 'Top 25 General Counsels in India' by ICCA London, 'Asia’s Top 25 In-House Counsels' by Asian Legal Business, and as a top in-house legal team by Legal 500 UK: GC Powerlist: India in 2017 and 2019. Parveen was also honored as the 'Woman Leader in a Male Dominated Industry' in 2019. She has been featured in books such as Indian Corporate Counsel Association's 'India’s Finest In-House Counsels' ICCA's 'Legal Luminaries', and 'Constellations: The Shining Stars in the Legal Fraternity' in 2019.
How did you decide to get into law?
Parveen: I had studied designing prior to studying law as my father is in the business of designing homes and has a furniture business. As a teenager, I was helping him in some litigations and started interacting with lawyers. I was fascinated with the depth of knowledge, analytical skills and command over the language. I therefore decided to study law. I am of the view that the study of law is critical to everyday actions. Whether you buy a house or a car, you need to understand law. You need to know your rights and exceptions. With technology and use of social media, you need to know the legal implications of your actions. Law is applicable to everyday life.
How would you compare mainstream legal practice with in-house practice?
Parveen: With the fallout of corporate scandals, rapid globalisation, increased focus on corporate governance, advancement in technology and data protection, the role of an in-house counsel has gained significant importance. The in-house counsel is the guardian of the brand of the company. An in-house counsel provides clear, pragmatic and commercially viable legal advice while being aligned with the company’s core business activity. They provide the risks along with mitigation strategies, while being mindful of the company’s appetite for risk. The role of an in-house counsel has, over the years, moved to one of a business enabler and strategic partner.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Parveen: With almost 20 years of experience, I can confidently say that each day has brought about new challenges and diverse legal issues. There has never been a moment where I have felt that work has been repetitive or a there is a sense of boredom. I enjoy participating in the business planning process and having a strategic approach to legal advice. Being part of a company, allows you to develop social and emotional intelligence.
What advice would you give to young women lawyers aspiring to have a journey similar to yours?
Parveen: I would advise young women lawyers that create your own definition of success. Women have the ability to multi-task and make great negotiators. Be confident and dare to dream. While women do have the responsibility of managing a house and children, it is possible to have a successful career in law. The art is creating a balance, being organised and compartmentalizing your day. Work out your non-negotiables and stick to it. The objective is to be productive and not be bogged down by perceptions. You must believe in yourself and do not look for external endorsement to recognize your value.