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In Conversation With Sumit Agrawal, Founder And Partner, Regstreet Law Advisors 

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In this conversation with BW Legal World, Sumit Agrawal speaks about navigating complex regulatory landscapes, prioritising well being and how to approach the legal profession.

Sumit, would you please walk us through your early years of education and the decision to become a lawyer? 

After schooling at various places in the state of Rajasthan, I was preparing for IIT-JEE from famous Bansal classes and I chanced upon the concept of National Law Schools which were rising in India. Hence, I prepared for the National Law Schools Entrance Exam and enrolled into Bachelors in Business Administration with integration in law at NLUJ. Upon my graduation, instead of following the traditional legal path of joining Law Firms or Litigation Chambers, I decided to join the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and was one of the youngest Officers there at age 21. 

As a SEBI Officer, I worked with various departments and verticals such as surveillance, legal affairs and enforcement. I was also part of core drafting team under Chief Justice N. K. Sodhi Committee to formulate Insider Trading regulations and assisted in investigating the IPO Scam (Roopalben Panchal Scam) and SATYAM Scam. I also contributed in formulating norms for tackling frauds and unfair trade practices, registration of intermediaries, disclosures in public issues, rejection of offer documents, merger of erstwhile Forward Markets Commission (FMC) with SEBI and defended SEBI’s power to seek telephone call records. I over the years at SEBI also assisted SEBI, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Ministry of Finance, Government of India, in bringing parliamentary amendments to securities laws, in addition to handling inter-regulatory issues or coordinating with foreign regulators such as US SEC, ASIC and UK FSA (now FCA). 

However, one of the most academically fulfilling part of my tenure at SEBI was being able to author the only comprehensive commentary on the SEBI Act in India. 

After almost a decade at SEBI, I decided to establish Regstreet Law Advisors – a boutique and premier regulatory law firm of India. 

Tell us about your roles and responsibilities at work, what does a day in your shoes look like? 

Regstreet Law Advisors is a super-specialised practice law firm. We at Regstreet try to adopt a unique approach by leveraging in-house data-driven perspectives for each client and their issues. This allows us to comprehensively assess a clients risk appetite along with the legal and business requirements. 

As the Founder of Regstreet, I don several hats. From leading my dynamic team of lawyers in our various matters to client engagement & strategic discussions and operational management are some of those hats. Each days brings a new set of challenges in the form of advising some of India’s top corporates like the Ajay Piramal Group, Nippon Group and other corporates such as listed companies and asset management companies to assist them in navigating complex regulatory landscapes to effectively representing clients before regulatory bodies and courts in litigation. Whether advocating for regulators or challenging their decisions, every interaction requires precision and foresight.

I also place a strong emphasis on maintaining a holistic sense of well-being. One of my primary pursuits outside of the office is prioritising fitness and health. I’ve incorporated a regular morning routine that kicks off with a spirited game of squash or stairs climbing in a 42 storey building. 

Engagement in academia and pro bono endeavors has always been integral to our work ethos. Whether it’s backing the Securities Law course at Government Law College, Mumbai, sponsoring the Securities and Investment Law Moot at GNLU, Gandhinagar, or conducting sessions at esteemed institutions like NISM, BSE, ICAI, and various NLUs, fostering education and knowledge-sharing is a priority for me and our cohesive team. 

Can you tell us about one notable case/deal/transaction you have been involved in during your career? 

While there are many, one case recently caught lot of media attention. In a case representing Bollywood Actor Arshad Warsi, MTV Diva turned Chef Maria Goretti, and Iqbal Warsi – we successfully challenged an ad-interim ex-parte order issued by SEBI (commonly known as the YouTube scam) at the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT). Our strategic approach involved disassociating our clients from the alleged scheme and challenging SEBI’s drastic measures of freezing their accounts worldwide. 

Our diligent efforts paid off as SAT granted relief by setting aside the order against our clients. The ruling underscored the importance of robust evidence and criticised the hasty nature of the order, ultimately vindicating our clients’ innocence. 

What is your success mantra and what advice would you give to others wanting to tread a similar path? 

The definition of success has no set tone and tenor. I aspire for myself and my fellow colleagues to have four aspects to have a fulfilling lawyer life – (i) freedom and flexibility to work, (ii) develop horizons by working and networking, (iii) sustainable mutual growth and (iv) reasonable financial terms. 

Even for students and to-be professionals, approaching the legal profession with passion, curiosity, and a commitment to making a positive impact is paramount. Recognising that each experience contributes to ongoing growth and development will ensure a fulfilling and impactful professional journey.