I was born on June 2nd in Kerala, India. After spending my early years in Kerala, I moved with my parents to Abu Dhabi, UAE where I did part of my schooling before returning to Kerala to complete my schooling. I joined the Kerala Law Academy in 2000 and graduated in 2005. I have had a very brief stint as an associate at a law firm in New Delhi before moving to Bangalore where I practiced corporate law for close to two years.
In 2006, I received a scholarship to undertake a course in Private International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law, Netherlands and I also trained very briefly in International Trade Law from the Academy of International Trade Law, Macau, China.
Life in London
In 2007, I received a scholarship from the London School of Economics to undertake my Masters in Law (LLM). LSE, a very diverse university with highly qualified students from all over the world. It was a life-changing experience for me. Most of the education in LSE happens from your peers and other students than from the Professors. Perhaps I owe my risk-taking attitude in part to my time at LSE. While at LSE, I contested for, and was elected as the President of the LLM students union, Represented LSE at the Willem C Vis International Moot court competition at Vienna, and worked part-time as one of the sales representative in a start-up called Hungryhouse.com
Every day at LSE was an experience in life, law, and entrepreneurship. I still remember my first day at LSE, where I rushed to connect with a professor who I had met in Macau. The professor’s secretary gave me an appointment to meet him the next day at his office. I entered his office and he seemed to be working on something. I was asked to be seated. Pleasantries and small talk are very common when meeting people in laid back Kerala and I suddenly remembered perhaps I should try and connect with him, I saw a picture of a teenage boy on his desk, as soon as the professor turned his attention to me smiling, I blurted out, “It is good to meet you…you have a handsome looking son”. The smile slowly faded, he took the picture from his desk saying “That………….”, and placed it right in front of me, “……..is my wife.” Needless to say I was a bit speechless/embarrassed but these kinds of faux pas ( many of which has happened since) is almost a routine and I have learned to deal with it in the most professional manner.
My whole time at LSE has been chronicled in a journal, I mean every single day at the university and I do hope to publish it someday. As soon as I was done with my time at LSE, I joined a law firm in London and later on, was a visiting lecturer in International Business Law at Regents Business School.
Businesses: Life as an entrepreneur
Law Pundits was originally conceived in 2008. Initially, it was started for providing tuitions to undergraduate and A-level students while I was still doing my Masters in Law. Even after I graduated from LSE, I still used the Old building at LSE campus as my makeshift office for providing tuitions (shout out to the security guards at the Old Building!). There were a lot of free rooms and I could not afford an office at that time, so I am happy I was able to be a bit resourceful.
As my students increased, I hired two more tutors and incorporated it as a company in 2011. At some point, we branched out into training and legal conferences and in 2011, we organized the first International Business Law Conference in London. Later on, we organized a training program for law students in London. In 2014 my father’s deteriorating health prompted my move back to my hometown in India for about 4 years till 2018. Law Pundits was set up in India as a separate entity and we had hired some great staff in India. In retrospect, that move was significant to my growth both personally and professionally. The business model of Law Pundits is such that most of the work can be done from anywhere in the world. We have several listed companies from around the world, law schools, legal professionals, etc that we count as our long-term clients.
Pioneering in Law
LEGAL EDUCATION AND SERVICES EXPO – (LEASE)
We had the great opportunity to do many of the “first” in the law space in India and in several other countries. The Legal Education and Services Expo (LEASE) was one such event. That we founded in 2014. At the time it was the first of its kind event. In the first year, we invited more than 15 law schools from around the world to New Delhi to present their LLM program. We have since welcomed over 60 law schools from UK, US, Australia, Switzerland, India, China, France, and Singapore. This international LLM fair was the first of its kind in India and to this day continues to be the largest LLM fair in Asia. Most of the law schools that we have partnered with still continue to return each year for their annual roadshow of LLM programs. We have been fortunate to hold this annually in several cities in India as well as in China, UAE, and Thailand including Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Dubai. A version of the LEASE LLM fair is also held online each year for people from other parts of the world to take part online and speak directly with the law professors and admissions head. It gives me immense pleasure to have been able to help some of the top law schools in the world from all continents.
GLOBAL LEGAL FORUM
A long-time vision of mine was to create something very similar to the World Economic Forum but for the law. In 2017 we started working on this idea and just as World Economic Forum has Davos. I wanted this annual congregation to be held annually in a city like Davos and we narrowed down the Hague. Sitting in a remote place in Southern India, it was to be a daunting task but my network which consists of some really great people helped me. For this project, in late 2017 I traveled to The Hague, Netherlands. A friend and business connection of mine also put me in touch with a lawyer from the municipality of the City the Hague. The City officials at the Hague liked the idea and they were on board as our first sponsors. About 10 years ago I was in The Hague as a young lawyer and I did get the opportunity to visit the Peace Palace, home of the international court of justice. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the peace palace, the importance of ICJ for law, and never in my wildest dreams, I thought one day I would be holding an event here. In 2018 we held our inaugural edition of the Global Legal Forum at the Peace Palace. It has since been held annually at the Hague. It has grown into a multi-day event welcoming speakers, attendees, and exhibitors from over 40 different countries to the Hague. It has been growing ever since both in size and impact and although it’s not yet something similar to the world economic forum, I hope that eventually….someday it will reach the scale and impact that the world economic forum has.
LEGAL RECRUITMENT FAIR
Legal recruitment fair (LRF) was another innovation of ours that we created so that people from all the cities can get the same opportunity which was limited to a few law schools or a few cities. What we have seen is that people living in bigger cities seemed to have an edge on legal jobs that were advertised. To reduce the inequality, we created the legal recruitment fair to enable people from all cities and countries to be part of legal job opportunities. Legal Recruitment Fair has been held annually since 2017. LRF presents lawyers and law students with the ability to interact directly with the law firm or companies which presents the job opportunity.
ONLINE LEGAL EDUCATION
Online legal education has of course been a passion of mine and it still continues to be one of my greatest passions. We have created several courses on multiple areas of law. Online legal education presents opportunities to a wide group of people and I strongly believe that online legal education is the way of the future and we are continuing to grow and engage in this evolving space and one where we have had our footprint since the very beginning. We have our own portal of legal education courses which is listed at lawpunditsglobal.com and we also have a directory of online legal courses call onlinelegalcourses.com
LEGAL TECHNOLOGY FAIR
Legal technology is a space that has been growing around the world and we can confidently claim that the first National event in India for Legal Technology was held by us called the Legal Technology Fair (LTF). We hosted the first LTF in 2017 partnering with a very innovative company in the legal tech space in India – Myadvo. We launched it in 2017 that time it was the first legal technology-focused event in India we had the late great Ram Jethmalani, a leading Indian lawyer, and politician, as well as stalwarts like Subramanyam Swamy and many people from within the legal industry, grace the event.
There was always a desire to constantly innovate or do multiple things at the same time. When you are starting up, I guess that it is very common. In fact, it was during this time, I happened to meet a friend who was working in the Social media space. I was intrigued by the possibility of building brands over the internet and wanted to do something like that for businesses in India. My second business Klientas was formed
Having a business is like having a baby and I have heard that a lot of times. It is true, the baby would need all the attention. So what if you have twins? For me, this was the case. Getting Klientas off the ground was a huge task. I wanted to start Klientas in India and I was in London. I had to find a really reliable person and I managed to convince my brother who was working in Ernst and Young at that time to quit and join Klientas and oversee the operation in India. I can’t remember the promises I made to him, but somehow I was able to convince him to join Klientas and fortunately, he has been quite a big support for taking Klientas forward. We had signed on two Clients in the first month itself and while the clients were quite popular companies, the office was my brother’s room at home in Trivandrum and I was at my office in London, but somehow everything seemed to work fine. I have now retired from Kientas and the operations are handled by my brother
One of my favorite past time activities has been to binge-watch Ted talks. Since there was no city-level TEDx event happening in Trivandrum, I wanted to host it. I had applied for a TEDx citywide license although I did not immediately get it, in 2015 I had been to Geneva, Switzerland to attend a TED global event. TED had started a partnership with Infosys call the TEDX anchor program and somebody contacted me from TED and asked me if I am still interested in pursuing my license. A great set of volunteers and a fantastic guy who joined law pundits from BITS Pilani enabled us to hold the first TEDx event in 2016 and we have been holding TEDxthiruvananthapuram since then. This is a passion project of mine and it is not a revenue-generating event but it’s something that I do out of my interest and to give back to my home city of Thiruvananthapuram, where are we invite innovators thought leaders and change-makers to speak on the work that they do or an idea that they have.
I sometimes feel very privileged that I happen to do whatever I love doing and doing it well. I am really glad I am able to make my contribution to the legal community in whatever way I can and make a difference in a legal professional’s or a law student’s life. Occasionally it feels good to be appreciated. For my contributions to the legal education and services, I was invited as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London and recently I have been awarded the fastcase50, as one of the fifty most innovative people in law, an annual recognition that has been instituted by Fastcase50 honoring law’s courageous innovators, techies, and visionaries from around the world. Secretly, I am kind of glad that some of the world’s most recognizable names in legal entrepreneurship as well as General Counsels and Officials of some of the largest companies in the world, including KIA motors, Facebook, Google, and Apple as well as innovative US and Canadian Judges as well as world-renowned professors in Law who has contributed significantly in the field of law, as my fellow award winners.
For every “successful” project I have been doing/done, there are several failed ones. I am glad “most” of these failed projects were in my late 20s when I could have afforded these failures. Although I still continue to make mistakes and fail at times, the frequency is slightly lesser… just a tad bit lesser. I am hoping I have learned some lessons from these failed projects. A big mistake/ personality trait was never listening to anyone who said do not do something. I probably still never listen to anyone who tells me not to do something. I guess now, I have a better sense of judgment, after all good judgment comes with experience and experience comes with making some bad judgments.
About the blog
I have been advised, by my CTO as well as several of my friends that I have to document the work that I am doing and how I have been able to do it. To quote one of my friends directly “…The mistakes you make might be a bigger lesson for an entrepreneur as much as what you would have achieved.” This blog is on matters which mostly relate either to law, entrepreneurship, or in some cases matters that I have an opinion on.