Legal Articles

Top Law Firm Luminaries

Life surely has been a roller –coaster ride for Anand Pathak who has worked in three different jurisdictions – Europe, America and, now, India. Enjoying his practice, it is a matter of pride for him that he has not lost a single case here.

How many of us remember our school motto, let alone make it our philosophy in life? Well, Anand Pathak has done just that. “The motto of my school (The Lawrence School, Sanawar) is ‘Never Give In.’ It drives me even today,” says Anand. He has given his best to every aspect of his life, starting with his life in school when, in 1977, at the age of 14, he travelled on a simple Hero bicycle, without gears, from Sanawar (near Shimla) to Kanyakumari (thereby becoming, possibly, the youngest person ever to take such an expedition), playing cricket in the Cooch Behar Under -19s tournament, coming first in India in the CBSE (Humanities) Class X11 Board Exam, getting a high first in Economics from the prestigious St. Stephen’s College, following that up with a high first in Cambridge University in the LL.B. course, and then all Honours in Yale Law School in the LL.M. course as well as in the Yale Graduate School in the M.A. Economics course, in the following year.

Anand was born into an illustrious family that boasts of grandfather Gopal Swarup Pathak, who was the fourth Vice President of India, and father Raghunandan Swarup Pathak, the 18th Chief Justice of India. Incidentally, his father was also the youngest ever in an Independent India to be appointed a judge of the Allahabad High Court at the age of 36. His father was also one of the three judges from India to have been elected to the International Court of Justice, The Hague.

With his school’s powerful motto to guide him and stalwarts such as his father and grandfather to inspire him, it was inevitable that Anand would have a profound interest in law. He would often visit the Supreme Court to listen to Nani Palkhivala and Homi Seervai. His interest in law would have led him to take up the practice of law in India had his father not said, “You cannot study or practice law here while I am in the Supreme Court; lecturers may not criticize my judgments freely if you are in their class and you must also stand on your feet.” As a result, he went to Cambridge to study law immediately after graduating from Delhi University. This was the first step he set outside the country and that too with only enough funds for a year of study.

To comply with his father’s instructions, he could not practise law in India. When he learnt that he would not be sent back from Cambridge for shortage of funds if he did well academically in his first year, he worked very hard to complete the three-year course in two years. He graduated with a first class. Even then he could not come back to India as his father was then the Chief Justice of India. Based on his academic record in Cambridge, he was awarded the Paul Mellon Fellowship to study in Yale for two years – the first time this Fellowship has been awarded to a non- English student from Cambridge. After Cambridge, he enrolled at the Bar in 1986. His insatiable appetite for knowledge led him to pursue Law and Economics at Yale.

Having been through tough times for a prolonged period, he now wanted to earn. Also, as the custom stood in India, he got married to Charu in 1988. It was an arranged marriage to the granddaughter of a family friend he had met infrequently during short visits to Delhi while he was studying in Cambridge. He needed money to make calls from the U.S. to Charu. A summer job coupled with work at a corporate law firm, a stint in the Chambers of the then- British Advocate – General, Sir Gordon Slynn, at the European Court of Justice and teaching Economics as a graduate fellow to undergraduate students in Yale saw him through. His zeal for work and tenacious nature at times found him working for almost 72 hours at a stretch.

Charu’s grandfather was a real –estate developer who wanted his granddaughter to live closer to Delhi; U.S.A. was too far. At the same time Anand’s father too was elected to the World Court and moved to The Hague. In view of the opportunities that he could foresee, Anand applied to the European Commission, Brussels, and joined the Competition Division of the Commission’s Legal Service in 1988. “I achieved many objectives by moving to Brussels. I could be near my parents, get to know my wife and gain first-hand experience of the European Court of Justice and the European Commission,” he says.

Anand says that his meeting with a well-known German competition lawyer, Dr Norbert Koch, a high –ranking official and completion lawyer with the European Commission’s Legal Service, gained him knowledge of competition law and later recognition as a competition lawyer in Brussels. “Today, if I know anything about competition law, it is because of that period in the European Commission when I worked with Dr Koch. He was an expert in completion law and he made me a member of the negotiation team of Sir Leon Brittan that drafted and negotiated the Merger Control Regulation. Dr Koch left an indelible impact on my young professional life. It was an amazing experience,” he confesses.

However, he left for the United States in 1990 after witnessing the adoption of a historic piece of competition legislation, the Merger Control Regulation, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the merger of the two Germanys, only to return a few weeks later to live in Brussels for the next seven years practising cross-border M&A and completion law and, as he says, to enjoy the food, wine and beer! He went back to the U.S. in 1997 to continue as an M&A lawyer after his second child was born. Anand recalls his stay in Europe as “the most intellectually exciting and professionally passionate time of my life.”

It was many years later, in 2003 that Anand returned to India to join P&A Law Offices in New Delhi. Having stayed in the U.S. and Europe for many years, he even gave up his partnership with a U.S. law firm to come back. His previous experiences with competition law helped now as the Competition Act, 2002, had been adopted in India. Enjoying his practice, it is certainly a matter of pride for this lawyer who has not lost a single case here.

On the personal front, he has practically grown up with his wife Charu who was 21, while he was 25, when they got married. Having been together on numerous adventures both in the U.S. and Europe, the couple have enjoyed beautiful moments facing various challenges across three continents. They have two daughters, Avantika and Anisha. While Avantika has graduated from UC, Berkeley, with a major in integrative biology, Anisha studied economics and maths in USC.

Life surely has been a roller-coaster ride for this lawyer who has worked in three different jurisdictions – Europe, America and now, India. Not willing to trade it for anything else, one can only hope that horizons grow wider for him as he moves ahead in his professional journey.

We acknowledge “100 Legal Luminaries of India” by Lalit Bhasin (Lexis). The multicolour coffee table book printed on art paper in Hardbound is priced at ` 5995/- and is available at Universal Book Traders, C-27, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001.

Leave a Comment