Building a legal career takes the right skills, to grow and to stay in it. Clearing exams can sometimes be one of the easiest tasks, but to stay in the field with all your might and guts is what it actually takes to be a successful lawyer. It requires the amalgamation of various skill sets, like at times, one needs to be a very creative and persuasive writer, and at times, you need to flip it and turn on to your analytical and dispassionate side.
Having had a successful career as a lawyer, this feature of The Enterprise World in the issue The Most Influential Lawyers To Watch In 2022 is of Ameeta Verma Duggal, Partner at DGS Associates.
In this interview with her, let us know more about her journey at DGS Associates.
Kindly tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
DGS Associates is a partnership firm founded by Niti Sudhakar and Ameeta Verma Duggal in 2004. DGS Associates is a multi-disciplinary boutique firm situated in New Delhi. The key areas of practice for DGS Associates are Aviation; International Trade & Bilateral Investment Treaties, Corporate & Commercial, Defence, Arbitration, Mediation & Litigation, amongst others.
In the initial days, we got a much-needed impetus from Mr. S.N. Mookherjee, Senior Advocate, who sent us work from Kolkata to the extent that we became literally the sole firm doing all the filings in the Company Law Board for Kolkata based companies. Added to this was our empanelment on the Central Government panel for the Supreme Court.
With the security of litigation work coming in, we could focus on developing the corporate practice. DGS Associates got clients like Celebi Aviation from Turkey and Havas Group from France in 2006 and they became the base of our corporate practice. Then in 2008, the international trade practice was set up with clients like POSCO, Samsung, Hyosung from Korea, and Mitsui from Japan. Thereafter, as they say, the rest is history.
We have gathered considerable goodwill through our journey and that goodwill has helped us sail. Today DGS boasts of a well-established practice, specifically in sectors spanning aviation, telecommunication, media, defence, international trade and regulatory practice across sectors.
We have, however, always preferred to be a cohesive team of lawyers, and prefer to function as a boutique firm. DGS Associates strength has never exceeded 10-15 lawyers at any stage. However, what has been evolving is our periodic endeavour to add to our offering of services.
Kindly brief us about the proactive founder/CEO of the company and his/her contribution towards company and Industry.
Ameeta Verma Duggal has worked with some of the leading law firms in India based out of New Delhi. She was awarded the British Chevening Scholarship to study at the College of Law, York and worked briefly in the London office of Clifford Chance.
During the span of almost 28 years of her professional life, Ameeta has worked extensively in areas of international trade laws, cross border transactional and conveyancing work. Ameeta spearheads the mergers & acquisitions, international trade, and the regulatory practice of her firm. Her expertise lies in import and export of dual use goods.
Ameeta also devotes significant time on rendering pro bono legal advice. She is a member of the Pan-India Advisory Board of VIDYA Integrated Development for Youth and Adults, a 35-year old NGO that believes in social change through empowering the most vulnerable members of underprivileged communities : the children, youth and women.
Mention some of the awards, achievements, recognitions and clients’ feedback that you feel are notable and valuable for the company.
In recent times, DGS Associates has been awarded the Law Firm of the Year award for International Trade for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 by the IBLJ.
Ameeta has been named in the A – List published by the India Business Law Journal (IBLJ) as one of the top 100 lawyers in India for the year 2020 and again 2021-22.
Ameeta is a published Author and has co-authored Export Controls of India, a pioneering book in the field of export controls published by Thomson Reuters. The second edition of the book was released last year.
|The book serves as guidance on compliance with a comprehensive analysis of the applicable law and procedures in India for the benefit of its users.|
|Contributed the India chapter in the World ECR publication, Managing Investigations. This guide acts as a navigational tool to the multi-dimensional and multi-jurisdictional enforcement.|
Contributed the India chapter in the World ECR publication, World Encryption Controls. This book details the regulatory, licensing and policy frameworks for the export of encrypted products. It is a valuable resource for companies exporting, manufacturing or distributing tangible or intangible products that use encryption technology.
Kindly share your point of view on the current scenario, major challenges, and opportunities of the Indian Legal Sector.
Currently, the Indian Legal Sector is at a very dynamic stage, particularly post COVID. The past two years have seen significant economic downturn, and this has worked to the lawyers’ advantage. There has been a steady growth, both for transactional work as well as litigation and dispute resolution.
The biggest challenge witnessed in recent times was the shift towards digitisation. The epidemic compelled lawyers to digitise overnight, which has again proved to be an advantage.
Brief us about the major challenges your company has faced.
There have been challenges, particularly in our initial years. However, these have been the usual challenges of setting up a law firm. We are fortunate not to have faced any significant challenge during our existence.
What are the major contributing factors behind your company’s success?
The biggest factor for the success of DGS Associates is its emphasis on relationship building. Our lawyers largely remain part of DGS Associates even after starting their independent practice. Most of our clients are long-standing. Most importantly, our staff has continued to be with us for several years. DGS is the product of this cohesive teamwork between the lawyers, staff and our clients.
How do you motivate creativity and innovation in the workspace while maintaining a healthy work environment?
DGS Associates encourages personal growth and lawyers have the flexibility of pursuing their passions in life. The work culture at DGS Associates does not require lawyers to abide by fixed hours at work. There are no late hours at DGS Associates, except for exigencies, and lawyers are encouraged to finish their work in good time.
Share your experience and brief us about the tactics and strategies to build long term customer relationship.
DGS operates at the fundamental level of commitment, hard work and integrity. There is a strict requirement in the firm not to miss a deadline agreed with the client. The partners are always accessible, both to the lawyers in the firm and the clients. We have had instances where clients have come back to the firm, after having left for a bigger firm, only because of the availability of the partners.
How do you see the company and the industry in the future ahead?
We see DGS evolving and growing with the changing landscape. We are excited to add new sectors to our practice areas, particularly in the field of technology.
What would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs?
Nothing succeeds like hard work and passion for what you are doing. There are no short cuts in life. Be honest with yourself and take pride in your work product. Only then will your clients appreciate your work.