New Delhi based advocate Namita Chadha, Co-Founder of Chadha & Co, is one fine example of a woman who has risen in a male dominated field despite facing professional odds. Looking at her successful career graph, one can definitely say that she has proved to be a leading lady in a man’s domain.
“There is no substitute for hard work, persistence, delivering high quality consistently, and at times, being unreasonable in your expectations. Further, a small amount of luck never hurt anyone, although as someone once said, the harder I work, the luckier I become,” shares Namita, the lady behind the leading corporate and commercial law firm, Chadha & Co.
The firm specializes in advising foreign companies from over 31 countries and across industries doing business in India on their India entry, structuring their entry, establishing their Indian operations and all legal and regulatory matters that impact them after they have commenced their operations. Today, Chadha & Co. is reputed for its high quality, practical, proactive and cost-effective legal advice, and is well networked with international law firms.
Namita’s principal practice areas are multi-jurisdictional litigation and dispute resolution, regulatory issues, competition law, white-collar crime and commercial fraud, labour and employment and anti-bribery.
Ask her how the law bug bit her and she mentions, “Quietly and intently listening from behind the cupboard the intense conversations my father had with his clients and colleagues, and the poised dictations he would give to his steno for his two books would make me feel excited and curious about law. As a girl, I always had instinctive skills at negotiations and discussions. Having a lawyer father honed my skills naturally and my innate ability of convincing my parents along with my argumentative nature helped me choose this profession.”
By the time Namita grew up, she knew she had the courage to dream big, become a successful professional and live life to make a difference to others. The profession of law seemed to be the answer to this quest. Power, prosperity and glamour were in the offing and seemed attainable. “I owe a lot to my teachers in shaping my career, who, at each step of my student life and thereafter, encouraged and guided me,” adds the dynamic lady.
Her father has forever been her source of inspiration. He inspired confidence in Namita and made her understand that if there are obstacles, then there are hopes too. Also, she has been fortunate to receive the love and support of her husband, parents, in-laws, daughter, a dear friend and colleague, a strong and committed team and friends from within and outside the profession.
Setting her foot in the already competitive and crowded legal market, Namita noticed that the needs of foreign companies doing business in India were probably underserved. This led to the genesis of her firm. She says, “We were fortunate that within a few days of setting up our firm, a leading Japanese company chose to take our services. Needless to say, I, along with my colleagues at that time, worked very hard to deliver within time, high quality legal advice to the client. They then proved to be a great reference for other Japanese companies and we gradually built a formidable Japanese practice. We also focused on European and US companies, and today, we act for top companies from more than 31 countries.”
Namita has always taken obstacles that came her way as challenges. Ever since the beginning, it wasn’t easy for her to place herself in the male dominated and slightly gender biased profession. Clients, at times, were prejudiced not only against the capabilities of female lawyers, but also newcomers, who had not yet gained the repute of the big boys. She says, “Long working hours, owing to drafting and preparing for upcoming matters or client meetings after court hours, have been a trigger for many women lawyers leaving the profession. I went for perseverance and resolve to withstand such challenges rather than allowing myself to get intimidated and take a step back. Also, when I began my career, there were very few established women lawyers who could serve as role-models whom I could look up to as mentors. Another significant challenge was the inevitable frustration owing to low remuneration compared to the long working hours that mark the initial years of a lawyer’s career in India. Though sound legal education forms the bedrock for a professional in the industry, law school leaves you under-prepared to take on the challenges of practicing in courts or advising corporate clients. Therefore, learning begins anew once you start practicing.” She now feels that despite the stringent challenges that still prevail, positive steps are being taken to eradicate these issues over time.
During her free time, exploring concepts of spirituality, self-improvement, self-evolution and development; indulging in shayari, ghazals and qawwali and enjoying stimulating and intellectually challenging discussions with friends and experts interest Namita. Work hard and party harder has never been her motto in life simply because work does not feel like work to her and party, on the other hand, never seems to end in her case. Osho has been a very important part of her life and she makes sure she gets an undisturbed hour every morning to listen to him. It helps her unwind and works as a great stress buster.
Beauty with brains is undoubtedly a tremendous virtue and Namita is luckily blessed with both. With her poised appearance, intellectual capabilities and professional dignified approach towards business associates, she is setting an example for many that a woman can have a career, family and in fact if she is willing she certainly can give life to her dreams. She has been felicitated with Woman Lawyer of the Year 2014 by Legal Era, India and has been identified as a Leading Lawyer by Asialaw for the years 2014 and 2015. She feels proud of the fact that a leading jewellery brand had asked her to walk the ramp for the launch of their line thereby acknowledging women who are epitome of beauty, elegance and brilliance.
With the Indian legal industry rising rapidly and with more women breaking the ice by forging ahead in the career, ask Namita what would be her advice to budding lawyers and she says, “All those who aspire to be successful advocates in the future, should have fierce ambition, single-minded devotion to work and perseverance. Ours may be a tough profession, but at the same time, the opportunities it offers today are manifold. I believe if you know your work and know how to excel in what you do then success definitely comes your way, irrespective of whether you are a man or a woman.”
She would like to see the expansion of her law firm to pan-India and at international level so that it becomes the first choice for leading companies who are looking for legal advice in India. And, good news is, she is well on her way to achieving this goal. Kudos to a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a lawyer and above all, a woman inspiration for the law fraternity and for the society on the whole.