Interview by Anahida Bhardwaj, our campus leader from Symbiosis Law School, Noida.
Mr. Diljeet Titus is a prominent lawyer who founded Titus & Co. in 1997.
Since that time he has headed the firm and maintains an active client practice which includes frequent involvement in project finance and development, energy projects, industrial projects, loan syndication and structuring, corporate investment structuring and restructuring, corporate mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, securities, banking, commercial and financial transactions.
We chat with him about is journey towards becoming a lawyer and what lies ahead for the lawyers of the future.
1. How you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Diljeet Titus and I have been practicing law for 27 years. Initially I was working in a law firm but I am now running my own firm which completes 20 years in April 2017.
I quite enjoy every day of my profession, working with lawyers in my office, industry specific consultants and with senior advocates on inbound client matters.
2. Share with us some of your experiences as a student of St. Stephen’s College in Delhi University as an undergraduate student.
My three years at St. Stephens College (1983-1986) living in residence was very memorable as I got to study in a highly structured and stimulating environment and also made a lot of friends who remain friends till today.
Life in college was very relaxed and peaceful and we actively participated in activities at the gym, Social Service League, the College Chapel, Informal Discussion Group and the Hiking Club.
The Social Service League was one of the first NGOs that was permitted by the Government of India to provide relief for the 1984 Sikh Riots. I remember working 4 days non-stop at the Farash Bazaar Camp in Delhi, without almost no sleep, distributing blankets, medicines and helping serve the Langar food that came in from the Gurudwaras.
Because there were only 24 of us in the B.A programme class, we were a close knit group and had a close bonding with our teachers who lived on campus.
One of our favourite teachers was Dr. Neelam Saxena who taught us Hindi, whom I’ve had the privilege of meeting on my visits to college even after now.
We had very strict rules of discipline in College which together with the rigors of study, balanced by my active participation in the college clubs and societies, helped to better focus my talents and energy to choose a career in law.
3. How do you think a three-year degree helped more than a five-year degree?
Having done the 3 years B.A Programme and later 3 years of law, I personally feel that there is better absorption of the respective subjects in this system of 6 years, since the 5 year integrated course may save you a year but not provide for that same understanding and quality of studying these subjects separately.
4. Tell us a bit about your study time in Jabalpur University.
After graduating from St. Stephens, because my results were declared late, I got admission in Law Centre (Evening classes).
Not knowing what I would do during the day, my parents called me to study law in Jabalpur which was a blessing in disguise as I got renew my friendship with Anurita, now my wife.
Though our law syllabus was fairly extensive and we had good teachers. The university Examination system was predictable and most of us sailed through by studying selectively following the patterns of previous question papers.
“Guess Papers” were the norm and the Junior batch achieved notoriety by walking out of one of the examinations in protest as the actual question paper did not match the “guess paper”!
5. What are the parameters that must be considered in deciding what the next step should be after graduation?
I strongly believe that one must immediately start working after graduation as it also gives you the time and exposure to consider the specific areas of law that you may want to focus on. (If you have not already decided in the area of specialisation).
6. Tell us a bit about your early professional experiences at Singhania & Co.?
I was very fortunate to work at the Singhania & Co. as it was one of the very few law firms in India that time that were working on large projects.
I worked with Singhania from 1990-1997 and with economic stabilization happening in 1991, we were deluged with work in the power, telecom, insurance, oil and gas, defence supplies and the IT industry.
We regularly and happily worked 14-16 hours every day.
Our clients included General Motors, Hyundai, Honda, Saab, Microsoft, Intergraph, Airtel, Ericson, Ikea, amongst a host of other Fortune 500 Global Corporations.
7. What does a typical working day look like for you?
I make it a point to read all E-mails that come in.
I personally work on a few client matters myself and help out my colleagues and juniors where guidance is needed or where client matters require my close review.
8. Did you have a mentor or ‘spirit guide’ in the earlier part of your career? How important is it for one to have to such a figure in their lives?
My maternal uncle, Mr. P.N Sewak has been a mentor to me in many ways, through my legal career and unto this day. He was always there to help and guide me on difficult matters.
I also had great colleagues who helped me throughout many ways in the early part of my career.
Pankaj Bhargava who now heads the Legal Department at American Express India, helped me to properly understand and interpret Company Law and the principles.
9. Are hobbies and passions important to deal with the stress of being a lawyer? Do you have any such hobbies?
Hobbies and interest outside work are great stress busters which help to switch off from work.
For me, getting to spend time with my Antique collections is a great ‘de-stresser’.
10. Given the dynamic nature of the field you practice in, how do you keep yourself updated about the latest developments in the law?
While I regularly read up and keep abreast of the latest developments in the law of the specific area of my practice, I rely on my colleagues and juniors to update and brief me on updates from the law as and when the need arises.
11. What according to you are the necessary skills the lawyers of tomorrow need to possess in order to make a mark in the practice or to place a job in the current scenario?
I think it is not only to be technically correct but also communicate solutions in a easily understandable style.
Drafting and writing skills are critical here and good communication skills coupled with a clear focus to get the work done and finished on time, is a key attribute.
12. What message do you want to pass on to the readers (aspiring lawyers, legal professionals or anyone related to the law)?
I believe that integrity, energy and efficiency are key characteristics to have, and I personally look for these very same attributes in my colleagues and juniors as well.