In conversation with Ms. Jasleen Dua (Batch of 2013-2018), who is currently pursuing Company Secretaryship and working with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as Assistant Manager- Legal Affairs, Division of Policy. In this interview with the Blue Pencil, Ms. Dua gets candid about her professional journey and also shares warm memories from her time at AIL.
The BluePencil: How did you choose your specialization in law?
Jasleen Dua: Back in school, I had chosen the commerce stream, which had subjects like economics and business studies. Credit where it’s due – with the help of some good school teachers, I developed an interest in the corporate field and decided to explore it while in college. Doing various internships with corporate law firms and moots focusing on general corporate and securities laws, that I participated in during my years in AIL also helped me further narrow it down.
TBP: How has your experience been at SEBI?
JD: I have recently completed one year and it has been quite an enriching year for me. I have been posted in one of the Divisions of Policy in the Legal Affairs Department. As a part of my work profile, I am required to read up on varied policy proposals and undertake a legal analysis of those, which I find that I genuinely and deeply enjoy. I am also truly excited when I get a complicated proposition to analyse and research about. Being an ex-mooter, it’s even better to debate these propositions with others and discuss them at various levels across the organisation to hear all the considerations before a policy call is taken. So far, so good!
TBP: You have also worked in corporate law firms, what were the pros and cons that you discovered there?
JD: Working with a tier-1 firm was a huge learning leap in terms of knowledge, discipline, and work-ethic. So, the definite pro is the training that one receives at these firms. Moving out of the law firm into a completely different set up has made me more grateful than ever for it.
Regarding the cons, it is no news that long working hours are not the easiest to work around especially while working on high pressure deals with multiple deliverables and too little time. Having said that, the long working hours also come and go depending on what matters you’re working on. There are days when the whole team is being able to take it easy and there are days when you’re up the whole night and still have your timesheets to do.
TBP: How did you decide to take up Company Secretaryship? How would you describe the course curriculum?
JD: I was introduced to the course by my father who is a practising Company Secretary. Given my inclination towards corporate and securities laws, I decided to take it up and am currently pursuing the professional (final) stage.
The course curriculum is very dynamic and all-encompassing, as compared to the B.A. LL.B. A huge part of the curriculum focuses on all aspects of corporate laws – be it compliance, corporate restructuring, securities laws, commercial disputes, taxation, accounting aspects, other commercial laws such as metrology, stamp duty etc. For anyone who is interested in pursuing corporate laws, this course definitely adds value. However, it is important to keep in mind that CS exams are generally conducted in May and December, which is at the same time that exams are conducted in college. So, one would need to balance the two.
TBP: What are your takeaways from your professional journey?
JD: Just go with the flow. We can make all the plans we want to make for the rest of our lives. Life has its own way of working things out and giving you what you need and want. Focus on delivering quality work and the rest falls into place on its own.
TBP: How was your experience at AIL? Are there any specific memories that you would like to share with us?
JD: Some of the best years of my life were spent at AIL, thanks to the people I call friends today.
The thrill of mooting, just sitting outside the cafe sunbathing in the winter, reading a book and having a hot cup of coffee with everyone sitting around, sometimes during academic hours. Then heading back to the hostel and having a dance party in the middle of the day at 3.00 p.m.; followed by a trip to sector 35 and the struggle to reach college by 9.00 p.m. for the roll call, come what may!
TBP: Can you pinpoint any defining moment while at college, which changed how you carry yourself professionally?
JD: Honestly, there is really no one moment. What I feel prepared me for the professional life that lay ahead of me were the internships in different locations, different organisations and practice areas. This is why I cannot stress enough on the importance of doing as many internships as possible through the five years.
TBP: What advice/message do you have for our readers and students at AIL?
JD: The only thing that some of us, as the students of AIL (as compared to the ones from other top law schools) lack, is confidence and belief in ourselves.
I completely understand that the resources we had or which are currently being provided are not nearly as sufficient as those provided in some of the top law schools. Nevertheless, the lack of those resources does not limit us from putting in our own work. And honestly, once we are in an organisation – interning, practicing or working as an employee, only our work defines us and nothing else. The exceptional performance of some of the students who have graduated more recently, is evidence of this. So, do not let anything hold you back.