Seema Jhingan – Committed to Protecting What Matters Most

Ms. Seema Jhingan Partner- LexCounsel Law Offices

LexCounsel is a corporate, commercial, and litigation law firm with offices in New Delhi, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, and associate offices in major cities across India. It provides comprehensive legal services to a broad spectrum of domestic and international corporations. The firm is recognized as a leading law firm and advises in diverse areas including Mergers & Acquisition, Corporate, and M&A, Labour and Employment, Real Estate, Venture Capital & Private Equity, Education Laws, Defence & Aviation, Franchising, Media & Entertainment, Dispute Resolution, Insolvency, Software/Information Technology, General Corporate, and Commercial.

Founded on best international practices, coupled with the strong capabilities and experience of its founding members, Seema Jhingan, Alishan Naqvee, and Dimpy Mohanty, LexCounsel provides comprehensive legal services and solutions across the border and domestic corporate and commercial matters.

LexCounsel has substantial expertise and in-depth sector-specific understanding and knowledge to provide customized and highly effective legal advice best suited to the clients’ business needs, be it simple or complex multiparty transactions. In recognition, the founding partners of the Firm have been consistently nominated as “AsiaLaw Leading Lawyers” in their respective areas of practice, particularly in IT, telecommunications and media, venture capital, and private equity and labor and employment. 

LexCounsel is equipped with advanced technologies, management resources, updated library systems, and other dedicated support systems to ensure timely delivery of legal services. With a close network of offices at New Delhi and Bhubaneswar, Odisha (led by Abhijeet Das, Partner), and associate offices at Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, and other major cities, LexCounsel draws on the specialized expertise of several professionals and specialists to provide seamless complete legal business advise throughout India.

LexCounsel has been regularly recognized as a leading firm in several areas of practice including, Corporate and M&A, Tax, TMT, Dispute Resolution, Aviation (including defense and aerospace), Real Estate and Construction and Labour and Employment [Sources include: Legal 500 and Asia Law and Practice, a Euromoney publication]. LexCounsel has also been recognized as a Tier 2 M&A advisory firm by ALB in 2019.LexCounsel’s litigation team led by Alishan has been awarded as the ‘Dispute Resolution Firm for the Year’ by BW Business World Legal Awards, 2019.

Ms. Seema Jhingan has over twenty-five years of experience. Seema has been recently recognized as the “Partner of the Year – Overall” by the BW Business World Legal Awards. Seema has also been honored by the Corporate Counsel Association of India in 2019 for her contribution to the Indian legal fraternity as “Shining Star of Indian Legal Fraternity” and as one of India’s “Trusted Corporate Lawyers of 2017” by the Indian Corporate Counsel Association in its publication – ‘The Vanguards’. Seema is a nominated Private Equity member of IR Global, one of the world’s largest professional networks.

In a talk with Ms. Seema Jhingan, let’s discover more about the LexCounsel and its journey since its inception.

What were the initial challenges you faced?

Individually, when I started my career as a young lawyer in 1994, there were fewer women lawyers and somehow the vibe I got was that lady lawyers are good as junior associates’, but men are preferred as the senior arguing counsels in courts. After a year in litigation, I found my true calling in corporate, commercial, and transactional law which I enjoy a lot even to date.

The Indian economy was opening post the new 1991 industrial policy, and the country was beginning to receive many foreign investors. Considering the plethora of laws and being new to foreign exchange rules and regulations, it was quite challenging to support large clients in their investments in India. I recall many sleepless nights and work pressures of advising the clients and supporting my seniors correctly. But it was overall a great learning experience.

My partners and I started LexCounsel in 2004 as a small firm with little resources, support, or affiliations, no clients or premises/infrastructure and since then we have grown in size, clients, team, and reputation.

Which was that point that triggered the growth of the Firm?

Unrelenting hard work, resilience, hopefulness, and delivery of quality work triggered a lot of referrals from existing clients. Consistency in work, business-oriented advice, and attentiveness to details earned many clients for LexCounsel. The Firm’s expertise in niche areas such as satellite and telecom work, education, healthcare, clinical trials and biotechnology, food laws, and insolvency and bankruptcy practice also helped in meeting more potential clients.

Alishan Naqvee’s commitment to lead the dispute resolution practice and Dimpy Mohanty’s focus on labor and employment and sexual harassment matters also contributed to the strengthening of the Firm’s practice areas. Rather than a particular point being the catalyst for growth, I believe it is the ongoing consistent quality work that continues to trigger the growth of LexCounsel.

How have the Firm graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?

LexCounsel started with 4 lawyers and we are currently 35 lawyers across India with our own and associate offices across India. From a one-room office to now a full building office we have not only grown in space and infrastructure but also practice areas.

What is the reason behind your firm’s long-standing success?

A strong team, dedication to quality services, responsiveness to clients, readiness to meet clients’ business requirements, building trust with clients and associates who enjoy working with the Firm, and competitive billings helped the Firm to continue its growth trajectory.

How do you decide to take the firm a step further in terms of your services?

We are planning to set up more offices across India to expand our practice. The Firm is already a member of three international organizations viz, IR Global, International Lawyers Network, and Alliott Group. The members of the Firm regularly attend the annual conferences and regional meets of these groups to meet lawyers and professionals from across the world for learning best practices, client referrals, firm development, and management.

Is there any new addition to the list of services? Anything exciting you would like to share?

LexCounsel has added the Insolvency and Bankruptcy practice in recent years. The Firm’s strong education practice advises K-12 and higher educational institutions from across the world. Clinical trial and healthcare continue to be strong practice areas. Cryptocurrency advice is another new exciting area.

How have you seen diversity change over the years in the legal sector?

From the time I started my career in the 90s (when there were lesser practicing women lawyers) to now, more women have joined the legal field. The legal field is now more diverse with many corporate, litigation, and niche practice area firms. With more law colleges, students from tier 2 & 3 cities are also aspiring to be corporate lawyers.

Can you please brief us about your professional experience?

Being deeply passionate about law practice, I follow the new developments in law keenly. I started my practice with Singhania & Co, followed by Titus & Co, and then co-founded LexCounsel in 2004.

I continue to lead the corporate commercial practice of LexCounsel and greatly enjoy advising clients in complex legal matters, business structuring, and transactional matters. I love interacting with entrepreneurs at conferences where I speak regularly.

How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?

Our strong legal team is the backbone of our quality services. Connectedness with associates is crucial as legal work is teamwork with long hours of work. LexCounsel lunches and dinners, get-togethers, and celebrations help in team building but empowering our associates in client handling, court appearances and delegation keeps the team strong and together.

Our team is unique in its flexibility to appreciate the specific business need of the client, its in-depth understanding of business law and industry, its deep research and law interpretation skills, and litigation strategy and execution.

Is there any special experience with your clients you would like to highlight?

Several client experiences are special. For instance, in our representation of Pilatus Aircraft, Switzerland, the client included us in the first delivery of Pilatus trainer aircraft to the Indian Airforce by sharing with us the presentation of the delivery ceremony at our offices. Similarly, Protostar, a US satellite-based company involved LexCounsel in the launch of its first satellite as an appreciation of our hard work in the matter. Usha Breco, LexCounsel’s long-standing ropeway client engaged LexCounsel as its representative for media handling on safety protocols of the ropeway.

According to you what next generation women advocates and litigators should focus on?

Bring passion and devotion to your work regardless of whether you are pursuing litigation or corporate practice. Never bring or let others bring gender to your profession. Since the beginning, I have seen myself as an advocate and never as a woman advocate. The majority of the barriers, excuses, and roadblocks are in our minds, fight against them.

One person who you admire the most?

Professionally, Zia Modi (Founder AZB) and personally, Mahatma Gandhi and from recent times, Sudha Murthy.

Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?

Several stories are inspiring and not one. I find inspiration from everyday life and people, their struggles, and their perseverance to fight daily hardships and achieve smaller goals. Stories of ordinary human beings who strive hard in business, adopt technologies and innovate on small scale basis, be it in agriculture, water conservation, charitable work are all very inspiring. Business stories of Steve Jobs, Narayana Murthy, Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Bill Gates are equally inspiring. 

Which is the most inspiring quote you have read?

‘Power of being Present in Now’ by Eckhart Tolle is one of the most powerful quotes that I live by and strive to achieve. The ability of the mind not to engage in make-believe stories/fears and being fully present and alive in the present moment is the key to mental sharpness, conscious behavior, and happiness.

It’s a rat-race out there. How do you cope with that?

Law is a tough field and requires long committed working hours with loads of deliverables, opinions, fillings, arguments, and submission and can be sometimes challenging. To avoid stress and anxiety, it is advisable to enjoy the work and bring purpose to ones’ everyday work. One needs to ‘cope’ only if the work is forced and without internal motivation. Personally, nothing motivates me more than serving a client’s purpose in achieving its goals. Also, keeping some downtime for self with family, yoga/exercise, traveling, and books are great stress busters. Inculcate hobbies, the balance would not be far behind.

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