Payal Kakra is from the batch of 2000-2005. She currently is the Managing Partner at K&T Law Offices. In this interview, she talks about what Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) law pratice entails and how to build a career in this field.
Shreya Vajpei: What caused your inclination towards law and why did you chose AIL?
Payal Kakra: Selecting law for my studies and as a career was completely my choice; my parents gave me full freedom to build my future path as per my whims and wishes. Our family basically constitutes of people either from Armed Forces or Legal Fraternity, so awareness was a factor. Law was and still is one of the most popular career choices. A degree in law and its specialization not only makes you a litigator but also opens up career options in sectors like corporate management, legal services and administrative services.
Although, from the very beginning I believed that pursuing law was a tough task, as it asks for constant brushing up and polishing of one’s skills and knowledge. Taking law for studies and career brings one a great scale of exposure and one has to constantly take up challenges. Joining AIL, for pursuing 5 years Law course, was one of the righteous decisions of my life, wherein being an army brat was one of the biggest influencing factors. My upbringing in a disciplined and cultured environment gave me the confidence to adjust myself and gel-up with the atmosphere, because there was a sense of familiarity in the institute.
SV: Tell us about your timeline at AIL. What were the co-curricular you took part in?
PK: I joined AIL in the year 2000 at Patiala and the remarkable journey ended in the year 2005 at Mohali. I spent 5 mind-boggling years of my life at AIL; the journey was like a roller-coaster ride of emotions, experience, knowledge, friends, learning etc. Even today, when I look back, the golden memories bring an ear-to-ear smile on my face. In those years I had learnt a number of skills and subjects in reference to Law which helped me in becoming a self-sufficient person. I was an active student, I participated in activities like debate competitions, moot-court competitions, paper-presentation and research paper publishing; all these activities helped me in enhancing my speaking confidence and researching skills. I was indeed very fortunate to be elected as a prefect of our institute in the year 2004. This developed in me leadership qualities and taught me to carry out team work, in the best interest of our esteemed organization. I also took keen interest in organizing and managing a number of events organized at AIL. AIL taught and developed in me traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness.
SV: What sort of internships did you do while in law school? How were they instrumental in helping you decide your career path?
PK: Internships are like a preface to a budding lawyer’s professional life. In order to gain good exposure and learning, I interned in all three spheres i.e. Litigation, Corporate House and NGO. Internships at court gives you a stimulating experience of action, drama and confidence, it generates a fervour in you and teaches you to work under extreme levels of pressure and struggle. While interning at Corporate Houses one learns the real meaning of professionalism, team-work, deadlines and the code-of-conduct. Law is not restricted to making money and surviving in the cut-throat competition, it also about the incorporated duty of serving for the welfare of the society, so I also interned in NGOs to recognize the skill of connecting and conversed with victimized clients.
The Internships are like the building stones for anyone’s professional career and prologue to professionalism. It is imperative to select your internship prudently and to tap gains out of it. One should have the zeal to put in optimuml effort and explore as much as possible, while doing their internships. It aids one with knowledge and exposure. One should be welcoming towards criticism, rejections, and shouldn’t be disheartened. Rather it should be dealt with right and positive attitude. One should also remember “Failures are the stepping stones to success”.
SV: Throughout your career you have been closely associated to media houses, i.e. Star News and MSM Discovery Pvt. Ltd. What work does a job at such media houses entail?
PK: I have also been associated with ABP News and Sony Pictures. And I work with them from home. I continued my association with them even post establishment of my firm, K&T Law Firm. Media law is a new upcoming field of law, wherein Media Lawyers would cover every legal issue that relates to media including television, music, sports, cinema, advertising, the internet etc. This requires exceptional commercial knowledge and communication skills. The media sector is still in its evolving phase. With advancement in scientific- technology, the media sector is also on the threshold of expanding with respect to technological up-gradation. The media and broadcasting industry has a tremendous dynamic set-up; there is constant introduction and amendments in laws pertaining to media and its policies, in order to serve the interests of all respective stakeholders. Efficiency and multi-tasking is the key to success, working with media house involves ample number of tasks like handling litigations, being well-acquainted with the regulatory framework and policies, and dealing with them, managing business negotiations, administrating daily legal business, protecting Intellectual rights of the media houses, highlighting the level of risk involved and alternative scenarios, strategizing plan of action, implementing due-diligence at each level and offering optimal decision for media houses.
SV: You were progressively promoted in MSM Discovery Ltd. (which offers the One Alliance Channels like TLC, Sony, NEO etc.) What is the work culture at MSM Discovery like? What must one do in order to ensure a steady career progression?
PK: I strongly assert that the work culture is created by one’s own efforts. It is like, for example, a painting, it is created and defined by selection of accurate palette of colour i.e. attitude and performance, that one possess towards the work and organization. If one is equipped with the accurate balance of zeal and positive outlook, the things will fall into perfect places automatically and build a healthy and encouraging working environment. The presentation of individuality will define the surroundings and work culture around you.
There are plenty of traits required to ensure a steady career progression, but the most important of them all is, the “Focus”. The progress platter includes qualities like being proactive, passionate and nailing the opportunity at the right time, courage to take responsibility and being accountable for the outcomes. It is essential to set up practical goals and have determination to accomplish those goals. Always strive to achieve the best, embrace innovation in the working style and challenge your comfort zone. It is also essential to respect the working policies of the organization and inculcate team-spirit and team-leadership.
Any advice to students planning to join media houses? What laws must they acquaint themselves with?
PK: In India, the Media and Entertainment industry comprises of the following segments:
- Advertising- Internet & Outdoor
With our system of Parliamentary Democracy and with the onset of globalization, privatization and communication technologies, it has today become a necessity to impose certain legal checks and bounds on transmissions & communications. Therefore, students planning to join Media Houses should be well versed with Telecommunication and Broadcasting Laws. They must be well acquainted with the policies and regulations published by TRAI and Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. One needs to understand the dynamic structure of the Telecommunication and Broadcasting sector. This sector, in particular, is facing technological advancement, thus the laws and policies also change in order to meet the dynamics. One should be updated with the changing scenarios, trends and fashion adopted by the broadcasting sector and media houses. The attitude should be positive and rapid, to take up challenges with the objective to win.
Media law stretches over vast and various legal fields that refer to the following:
- Copyright & Piracy
- Corporate law
- Freedom of Information
- Information Technology
SV: You have recently started your independent full services law firm (K&T Law Offices, Delhi). What motivated you to do so?
PK: Over the course of my career, I also had an opportunity of hiring, training, supervising number of young lawyers. Building up a reputation in the legal industry based on honesty, integrity, professionalism combined with good communication skills, judgement, perseverance, creativity, maintaining a high level of ethics and making a difference to the organization. All these factors motivated me to start my own venture.
Opening a Full services Law firm was my dream and a life changing decision for me. It is always good to have your own office, work of your own choice and area of expertise. Opening your own Full service Law firm gives you a sense of independence and you grow more, in reference to your professional life. Opening your own firm also involves a lot of risk in terms of financial investment, human resources and yes, to build a good client rapport. It also increases the level of responsibility because everyone looks up to you for an answer or solution. One has to strike the optimal balance between responsibility and authority.
SV: Starting a law firm is a tough job. What all does it entail? How do you build clientele?
PK: As per my experience some of the most important things required while starting anything new or taking a new step in life are courage, determination and focus. Initially one will face many setbacks and there will be many situations where one may doubt about their decisions, but one should never lose confidence. While setting up the Firm, first of all I had to make myself sure about the advantages and consequences of my decision. Once I was confident enough, I started discussing it with others and some of them shared really good ideas, gave their valuable advice and even offered to help. One has to personally involve herself/himself while making your dream come true. After pondering over the advices, I started preparing a blue print of my dream firm, chalking out the funds, resources, and location, design, legal requirements and most importantly, the backup plan.
What does it entail? The following:
- Plan before launch- Do not delay (get what you need minimum to start a firm).
- Finances to deal with place & infrastructure
- Development of quality website
- Select small but professionally competent & motivated team
- Keeping monthly overhead low
- Keep your marketing in house
- Innovate- Innovation is the fun part of running your own business.
Clientele? One cannot have plethora of clients in one day, slowly and steadily with the quality of work and hardwork one tends to attract clients.
A successful Law Firm is a group comprising lawyers, administrators, financial and business developers etc., that leverages its strength, invests in its employees and always endeavour to meet its client’s expectations. Law firm don’t solely rely upon the finances, but they even are reputation based. It talks of firm values rather than money.
Remember the clients come to you on the basis of your reputation. This aspect was built up while working in the corporate sectors and was continued by trying to build the reputations of K&T law offices.
SV: Lastly, what are your thoughts on the Alumni base at AIL? Do you believe they are closely connected? If not, what must they do in order to revive the bond?
PK: The Alumni Base is like the connecting bridge between the alumni and college. It keeps the bond and memories fresh and saves it from rusting. Once you see a mail or post in reference to your college, your heart is filled with funny & mischievous memories, delightful emotions and you walk down through pleasing recollections.
Yes I believe that Alumni Base is putting remarkable efforts to keep the rapport between the alumni and the college intact. We receive time-to-time notifications about the happening and achievements of our reputed college; however we would love to have frequent interactions and meets.
Payal Kakra can be reached at email@example.com.