Mr. Anirudh Krishnan, Founder Partner of AK Law Chambers, who graduated from NALSAR and Oxford, has a rich experience in commercial and public law litigation, arbitration and corporate advisory work of the firm. He was appointed as a consultant to the Law Commission of India for the Report of Arbitration (2013-14), receiving special appreciation, besides having worked with them on other matters. He is also a member of the Drafting Committee for the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration. He is also the Chief Editor of ‘Justice RS Bachawat’s Law of Arbitration and Conciliation’, among his other published works.

Nyaya Forum’s interactive session with Mr. Anirudh Krishnan proved to be deeply insightful, especially for students interested in arbitration and commercial dispute resolution, since it was primarily structured around the practical aspects of practice in these spheres. He chose to structure his interaction by first drawing from his own personal experience and then proceeding to establish the primary takeaways, with the aim to convince students to consider Commercial Dispute Resolution as a possible career avenue. Mr. Krishnan points out that now is a particularly good time to join the field, given the recent Amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, and the enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

Mr. Krishnan started his career at a reputed foreign law firm; he highlighted three fundamental skills he acquired during his two years there, which he considers essential to practice in India: precision and clarity in drafting, client management and the ability to handle large case files methodologically.

His next step was to pursue an LLM, and he spoke about the value of having one, especially for those looking at a career in legal practice. His advice was that an LLM degree would be a great asset; provided that one chooses their areas of study carefully. From his course at Oxford, he presented his own major takeaways: first, it gave him the ability to read judgements in several ways, thereby allowing an unfavourable one to be interpreted favourably and used to one’s benefit. Second, it also helped him investigate the ‘why’ of the law, i.e., the rationale behind legal provisions, which he said went a long way in understanding the right position to argue and more importantly, if the letter of the law is not in one’s favour, then interpreting the rationale is an important tool.

It was after this degree that Mr. Krishnan considered it the right time to return to India and begin his practice. He spent a year working under a Senior Counsel, before setting up his own practice. Discussing commercial dispute resolution in India, he points out that the system, which is considered frustrating by many, can be utilized for one’s benefit, which makes practice especially challenging and exciting in India, in a way that no one other system perhaps is. The challenge, he states, is to make the system interesting for oneself. He illustrated this point by providing three examples from his practice, where the solution for the client did not lie with a traditional approach in litigation; what won those cases were out-of-the-box creative ideas, which took advantage of the many components of the system.

Having written extensively, Mr. Krishnan drove home the importance of writing by pointing out that beside the obvious benefits in legal drafting and practice, it is perhaps one of the best ways for a lawyer to make themselves known in the field, due to the restrictions on lawyers advertising for themselves, by the BCI. Another part of his advice to students was the necessity of self-discipline right from law school, and having a strong foundation in the law, since any legal strategy must be grounded in law. Further, as a response to a question on where a student should start in commercial dispute resolution, he points out that while joining a large law firm has its benefits, one must consider boutique dispute resolution firms, which, even though their cases are not of the largest scale, provide a much greater variety in work. He suggests that students look for offices which are slightly overworked – it is only here that one receives ample drafting opportunities early on.

The Nyaya Forum thanks Mr. Anirudh Krishnan for helping us start off our discussion of commercial legal practice.

This article was internally copy-edited by Siddharth Aiyanna.