An upfront with Vineet Aneja, a lawyer as an entrepreneur
A preeminent rainmaker in the industry 4.0, establishing global standards with Clasis Law in India
My professional journey as a lawyer began from the proverbial bottom of the pyramid with only one thought in mind that “there is no substitute to hard work”.
India is the world’s 2nd largest legal professionals market having more than 600,000 lawyers, but it is one of the most restricted sectors on national as well as international level. Although new initiatives are being taken to open up the legal services sector in India- globalization is booming, and the constant policy reforms have brought dynamic changes in the market in the past decade. Traditionally, the view of lawyers is being apprised as the enemies of entrepreneurs. In the western world, the famously risk-averse attitude of lawyers often frustrates cramped business leader’s style who find fault in over-layering and objection raising when receiving advice from their counsel.
At that instant, when the nation was taking steps towards legal growth, Vineet Aneja, an expert legal player within the industry with his team laid the foundation stone of Clasis Law in 2010, to accelerate this transformation. Clasis Law presents an encyclopaedic embodiment of the current scenario prevailing in the Indian legal services– defining a global vision, scope, experience, and capability. It supports people across the world to keep pace and remain relevant in light of dynamic international trends. The firm operates from New Delhi and Mumbai and acts for a diverse national and international client base across a number of industrial sectors. It is maintaining the optimum quality in work that resulted in a trail of satisfied clients, in turn, helping the firm steadily gain traction and grow at the rapid pace in a span of nine years.
Emerging with its unique approach
The strength of Clasis Law’s corporate and commercial practice lies in the availability, determination, and ability of its seasoned lawyers to move projects forward with a focus to provide end-to-end services to clients. We anticipate impending issues in transactions or opportunities from which our clients could benefit and offer seamless legal advice customized to our client’s needs. We believe that we succeed when the client succeeds and in the course of this commitment towards the client, no request is too small and no service too big.
It’s the out of the box thinking, which is very important whether it be a legal input or commercial advice based on the business of the client.
Areas of Expertise
Clasis Law is a full-service Indian law firm that is truly international in its endeavour. Expertise within the firm includes corporate and commercial transactions, aviation & aerospace, banking & finance, asset & project finance, insurance, infrastructure, real estate, intellectual property, employment law, competition, compliance & auditing, shipping & international trade law, TMT, litigation & dispute resolution, insolvency, white collar and data privacy.
Vineet Aneja, the Managing Partner of Clasis Law stays under the limelight for his perseverance, diligence, and professionalism. Mr Vineet is armed with B. Com (Hons) and LLB degrees. He started his professional voyage with a litigation firm and worked with different firms including Singhania & Partners, Fox Mandal, and L&L Partners. Vineet has great expertise among varied sectors including foreign direct investment, transactions (mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures), corporate commercial, retail, hospitality, employment, e-commerce, education, healthcare, compliance and regulatory etc.
In an interview with Startup city Magazine, Vineet discussed Clasis Law and his professional journey.
Here are the edited excerpts.
What led you to initiate Clasis Law?
After keeping my nose to the grindstone for many years and inhabiting the desire to go independent, I along with other members founded Clasis Law.
The circumstances that led me to take such a decision were the desire to move out of my comfort zone and to become an entrepreneur. The passion that I have for my work and the thrill to take independent decisions coupled with working independently gave me the courage to move out, and establish Clasis Law.
What challenges have you faced in your career? What factors helped you to defeat them and succeed?
The major challenges are running a business and practicing law at the same time, surviving unhealthy competition, lack of time, lack of resources, difficult clients to contend with, stress and pressure to achieve targets and deliver results. The greatest factor for success is hard work and diligence. Perseverance and the dedication to excel are the two main factors that have brought me this far.
What the need that you’ve felt essential to be filled – and what are those obstacles for the legal companies that jump out on their own?
The aspect that is compulsory to be filled is to deliver seamless legal advice irrespective of how big or small the assignment is. Also, initially, one needs to work without thinking of the profit or the outcome. It is imperative to look at the bigger picture and get as much work as possible to shine one’s way through. The primary challenge faced by law firms who jump out on their own is to develop the business and find clients.
Does the law vary from sector to sector? Do the legal questions facing different industries differ and how do you take them on?
Yes, the law varies from sector to sector. The nucleus of the firm is its clients, and our clients are at the heart of how we work, which is the reason why we put the interests of our clients first. We invest in understanding our client business, their operating context, the opportunities and challenges they face and anticipate what they will face next, which becomes the foundation for us to adopt the changes and provide our clients with the proficient people, processes and solutions.
What have been the opportunities and the challenges in your journey?
Staying at the forefront of the regulatory landscape creates both a significant challenge and opportunity for law firms. Having the investment capacity to innovate and compete in an increasingly diverse legal market place is perhaps the core challenge faced by us.
We have a huge opportunity to recognize the benefits of diversity. Technological advances like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is very beneficial and also support us to compete with new market entrants.
Do you manage to strike a work-life balance or are there still grey areas you’d like to better address? What are your other interests?
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in running a law firm is to strike that perfect work-life balance. It is strenuous to have such a balance but, the effort is constantly on. From the time when I started practice today, one of the main aspects is technology. Technology tends to keep you closer to your work irrespective of your location. My other interests are watching a good movie and reading books. My favourite author is John Grisham.
Brief us over the Important Cases Handled by Your Firm.
The firm has handled various notable matters over the years. By keeping the concern of confidentiality in mind we do not name the clients. However, on a no-name basis, some of the notable recent works are as follows:
- Advised an Irish company in relation to the acquisition, by its Dutch group company, of a majority interest (51%) in an Indian company engaged in the business of manufacturing insulated panels.
- Advised a leading multinational group engaged in the business of providing medical and dental imaging systems and IT solutions in connection with the Indian leg of the global acquisition of its dental digital business by an acquisition vehicle controlled by certain private equity investment firms.
- Advised on exit by a Singapore based company (which is part of a global hospitality group) from its Indian joint venture company (which is engaged in the business of managing and operating hotels) by way of sale of its entire shareholding to the Indian joint venture partner.
- Advised an Indian subsidiary of an Italian MNC, engaged in the manufacturing sector in relation to the acquisition of equity stake from the Indian partner and structuring its exit from the Indian joint venture company.
- Advised an Indian listed company, engaged in the business of manufacturing automotive air conditions systems, in relation to investment in it by an existing public shareholder (which is a Japanese corporation), which was acquiring an additional shareholding in the Indian listed company.
- Advised the Indian subsidiary of a leading Spanish fashion brand in relation to the transfer of employees between group companies.
- Represented Macquarie Bank Limited in a Civil Appeal against Uttam Galva Metallics Limited & Shilpi Cable Technologies Limited before the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court, in its judgment, settled the law with respect to certain provisions of the (then) newly legislated Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and secured the right of the operational creditors, especially foreign operational creditors, to initiate insolvency proceedings without being restricted by non-mandatory procedural requirements.
- Advised the Indian subsidiary of a multinational software company in insolvency proceedings initiated by it against the debtor for a financial debt owed by the corporate debtor under a wholesale finance agreement.
- Represented Shobiz Experiential Communications Pvt. Ltd. in a domestic arbitration conducted by an arbitral tribunal comprising of a sole arbitrator against Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society, 2014 (“APHRS”). The firm represented Shobiz during the entire arbitral proceedings and succeeded before the arbitral tribunal. Shobiz received a favourable award directing APHRS to make payments as claimed by Shobiz including the costs paid to the arbitral tribunal.
- Advised a Hong Kong-based company engaged in the business of purchasing and selling a wide variety of consumer and industrial goods in relation to a dispute with the Indian debtor in a company petition before the Bombay High Court based on the debtor’s inability to pay the admitted debt. The proceedings resulted in a settlement between the parties and the client secured payment of the entire debt amount.
Feathers in the cap of Clasis Law and Vineet Aneja
- The firm has been ranked amongst the Top 40 Indian Law Firms by RSG Consulting Rankings 2017
- The firm has been awarded “Law firm of the year, 2018 for Insurance and Reinsurance” by India Business Law Journal, a leading legal magazine
- Vineet has been named under India Business Law Journal’s A-List of India’s top 100 lawyers.
- Vineet has been awarded for outstanding performance in Commercial Law by Advisory Excellence in the year 2018
- Vineet has been recognized as one of India’s Most Trusted Corporate Lawyers by the Indian Corporate Counsel Association (ICCA) in 2017
- Vineet has been recommended for Corporate/ M & A expertise by Legal 500 in the years 2010, 2011 & 2012
- Vineet has been awarded the ILO International Client Choice Award for India in 2010 & 2011
Present Your Perspective on Indian legal system and its problems.
The pendency of cases, lack of infrastructure in the courts and lack of noteworthy judicial appointments are the major issues in the Indian legal system. The good news is that the situation is changing, and it seems we are moving in the right direction in this fast evolving and ever-changing legal system.
What is your take on legal education in India?
Over the years legal education has become far more focused and goal oriented. The laws schools in India have a proliferating culture of moot courts which has made legal education far more practical and behavioural than simply learning the letter of the law, though, legal education is not as practical as it should be in terms of corporate law. The focus should be on providing the students with real-time insight into the life of a corporate lawyer, and it’s compulsory to gain the practical side of corporate law as well.
It could be achieved by conducting corporate mock sessions of negotiation of the agreements drafted so as to grab the nuances of the deal, conducting mock due diligence activities to identify what actions should be included as representation and warranties or conditions precedent in the agreements including the sessions of client counselling to give a tangible feel of corporate/ business law to the student etc.
Forthcoming Strategy of the organization
The future plans of the firm include:
- Growing the business to attract clients from all emerging sectors
- Assessing current practice areas by lawyer – level, and seniority
- Identifying high potential lawyers within the firm
- Assessing career tracking and growth opportunities for younger lawyers
- Identifying opportunities for recruitment
- Understanding new technology and implementing
Advice for Law students and Lawyers
Pick your courses, and engage in diverse subjects to understand your true calling. Try and gain as much practical exposure as possible by writing articles, attending seminars, regular internships (both in the corporate and litigation areas), interact with alumni and get a flavour of what lies ahead as a lawyer. Lastly, focus on hard work and rewards will follow.