Richa (Gautam) Naujoks Sowl - India

After having worked for law firms in different parts of the world since my graduation from law school in 2000, I returned to India in 2008 in order to work on developmental issues. Since October 2008, I have been with an Indo-German governmental project on Corporate Sustainability, where I am responsible for the areas of corporate governance and responsible investment. (Responsible investment is an emerging field based on two key ideas: that investors are in a good position to influence businesses to behave in an environmentally and socially responsible manner; and that it in the long-term interest of investors as well as the companies in which they invest for companies to be environmentally and socially sustainable).
Prior to my return to India, I was an associate in the securities and mergers and acquisition group of Nixon Peabody LLP, New York, where I worked on initial and follow-on offerings, periodic disclosure and securities law ongoing compliance, corporate governance advice and merger and acquisition transactions including private equity transactions. My clients ranged from large to mid-size companies across industries including aviation, banking and finance, auto parts, beverage and alcohol, surgical instruments and publishing. I also established and co-headed Nixon Peabody\'s South Asia practice. In New York, I was an active member of several associations, including the TIE-tristate area, National South Asian Bar Association (NSABA) and South Asian Women\'s Leadership Forum. My membership in these organisations not only had a strong positive effect on my efforts to establish Nixon Peabody\'s South Asia practice, but also personally and professionally allowed me to keep up to date while in New York, on legal and other developments in India. It is from this time that I was convinced that there was a need for a women\'s law society to connect women lawyers working in or with India.
Before my time in the U.S., I was in Singapore, where I was an associate with the law firm Rajah & Tann. I received my BA LLB (Hons) from the National Law School of India University in 2000, and an LLM in Asian Law from the University of Washington in 2003. I was admitted to the Karnataka Bar in 2000 and to the New York bar in 2004.
I am currently editing a book on the Business Laws of India (expected publication March 2011). I also provide consulting advice to organisations on my subject areas of corporate governance, corporate sustainability and responsible investment, and spend a significant amount of time on SOWL-India activities.
Right from my time in New York, I have felt the need for an association of women lawyers with an interest in India, spread over India as well as key cities in other parts of the world. Which is why I have been involved from the start when we started discussing the formation of SOWL-India. Another reason why I wanted to be part of this landmark initiative is because of my recent shift from traditional practice of corporate law to a corporate policy advisory role. I believe that there are several options out there for women lawyers, beyond and alongside the traditional practice of law. As lawyers we have the training and ability to contribute to the way in which the Indian economy, polity and society develop. Whether by making a full-time career out of it, or by being involved in organisations and associations that work in this area, I believe that each of us has the ability and, to some extent, the duty to contribute to the development of progressive laws and policies.