S T Prashantha Kumar: Your Pragmatic Legal Avatar in the Court of Law

S T Prashantha Kumar
S T Prashantha Kumar

Although an advocate or attorney fights for your cause in the court of law on your behalf, an outstanding lawyer like S T Prashantha Kumar puts himself in your shoes, becoming your legal representative and counsellor in an absolute sense. Thus, your winning or losing means his victory or defeat. Or, in a virtual sense, an extraordinary advocate like Prashantha is, pragmatically, your legal avatar.

According to Prashantha, an outstanding lawyer must be a great learner and listener – patient hearing, analyzing the facts and circumstances, logical thinking, and accessibility is a must. “One must further ensure that they develop the requisite capacities and skills in knowledge building, vocabulary, gift of gap and drafting. Hard work, smart work, market knowledge and teamwork are crucial for achieving the desired results. They must consider the freshers as their competitors and accordingly prepare themselves everyday,” he believes.

A Saga of Brilliance  

Sharing his journey in legal excellence, Prashantha shares that It has been a highly learning and upskilling journey from 2002 – from the day he passed out of the law college. He was inclined towards civil services just after finishing college and started looking for guidance and coaching. “I was shuttling between New Delhi and Hyderabad and given my best for two years in preparing for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams as well as State Civil Service exams and made up to the interview (for couple of times),” he recollects. However, Prashantha’s destiny probably was not to be with the Government services.

In 2004, he started his journey as an advocate. He informs, “I was initially guided and mentored by Mr Kamal (now Justice Kamal -Karnataka High Court).” After that, in October 2004, Prashantha joined ALMT Legal, a law firm in Bangalore as hybrid counsel for litigation and real estate practices. His journey in ALMT from 2004 to 2013 was full of new learning, upskilling, new challenges and shaping his career. During this journey, he realized that he has all the skills of an expert legal counsellor advising and structuring real estate and infrastructure transactions. “I have moved out of conventional methods of undertaking title due diligence, adopted a pragmatic way of undertaking due diligence, and started offering out-of-the-box solutions for the real estate transactions within four corners of the law. In short span, I came to be known as a resolution-oriented transaction counsel. I started undertaking deeply penetrated research and innovation in the real estate practice area and came up with novel and innovative ideas in resolving the issues and structuring the transaction” he mentions.

Partnering with Fox Mandal & Associates

Prashanth’s journey with Fox Mandal & Associates (FMA) started in 2013 as a Partner – Real Estate and Infrastructure Practice. “I must thank my managing partner Shuva Mandal for the trust he posed in me and for bestowing me with great opportunities. At this juncture, I would also like to thank Ms Purnima Kamble, who was part of my interview at FMA and made a bold statement that I looked highly promising. In FMA, my journey so far has been great,” reveals Prashantha. He has been tapping all potential markets relating to real estate, infrastructure and project finance. He has been advising the best and most renowned real estate industry players in the country as well as worldwide, starting from TATA Realty, Birla Estate, Mahindra Life Spaces, House of Hiranandani, Godrej Properties, Prestige Developers, and Brigade Developers and providing these entities with much-needed real estate and transaction solutions.. He added  new practice areas like Renewable Energy, Warehousing and Logistics and Project Finance  in the firm at Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune and he has been advising highly renowned and distinguished industrial players like SBI CAPS, Edelweiss, Nippon Reliance Assets Management Ltd, All Cargo, Decathlon, Aditya Birla Capital, Piramal Group, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank, Axis Bank, Axis Realty Fund, Kotak Realty Fund, Indusind Bank, ReNew Powers, Vena Energy, O2 Power, Maple Tree, Ascendas and so on. At FMA, Prashantha is currently taking care of Real Estate, Infrastructure and Project Finance Practices at Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune.

Furthermore, Prashantha has been recommended as well as ranked by renowned global ranking agencies like Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners as ‘the most highly regarded and most recommended counsel for Real Estate and Construction Practice Areas in India’ and they published about him in their respective journals.

According to Prashantha, his professional qualities and values are greatly admired by clients, colleagues, and authorities dealing with him. He is known in the market for the out-of-the-box solutions that he has been offering to the client’s legal issues or concerns. “The clients admire me for my knowledge bank, turnaround time, pragmatic resolutions, timely help, and accessibility. I keep myself upskilling so that I can meet the contemporary market demand. In addition, I am a good and patient listener,” says Prashantha.

FMA: A Trusted Legacy

Revealing firm FMAs USPs, Prashantha says that they are one of India’s oldest law firms, having started operations in 1896. They have a legacy of more than 125 years. He puts, “We believe in inclusive and holistic growth, and our value system is to grow with the clients. At every step of our journey, we ensure that the interest of our clients is not prejudiced, and their interest is protected.”

They have a presence in pan India having eight offices in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmadabad and New Delhi, and we have corresponding counsels across India and Globe. A team of 250+ advocates work with them in various roles across India.

Today, Fox Mandal and Associates are a leading full-service law firm having practice areas of Corporate, Capital Market, Merger and Acquisition, Corporate and Commercial, Real Estate, Infrastructure, Employment Law, Secretarial Practice, IPR, TMT, ESG and Litigation.

Reiterating some significant characteristics of FMA, Prashantha says that they are known in the market for out-of-the-box solutions that they have been offering to the client’s legal issues. The clients appreciate them for their legal expertise, know-how, shortest turnaround time, pragmatic resolutions, timely help, and accessibility. “We have a highly experienced and pragmatic team who will get into the client’s shoes to resolve their legal issues. We have been trusted partners for many renowned industries and industrialists for centuries in India,” he states.

A Tech-Legal Integration

Being an experienced legal professional leader, Prashantha’s opinion on modern technological impact on the legal profession and how FMA is adapting to the change is optimistically rational. He says technology is a necessary evil that cannot be avoided today. “I am of an affirmative opinion that infusion of technology into our lives would ease our lives. We have been contemporary in nature and have adopted all possible technology from Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Artificial Intelligence and so on in our work. The same has increased our efficiency and avoided overlapping of the work to a greater extent. It has enabled us to achieve ease of working at the workplace, and we have created a user and work-friendly eco-system across the offices,” says Prashantha.

Thus, as per him, they have proved to be a classic case, wherein their professional efficiency has not been impacted during the pandemic, and they catered to and served all their clients’ legal requirements efficiently working from home. Even today, they follow a flexible and hybrid working model, wherein a couple of their associates continue to work from home.

Upskilling through Challenges

Considering the current industry scenario, Prashantha says that there are several challenges they have to overcome constantly. Society is highly complex today, leading to extremely competitive and challenging markets. On the one hand, Prashantha and team FMA has to educate and upskill themselves with the newly emerging market trends and scenarios. Society’s composite demand led to new policies and rules flashing every day, and on the other hand, they have been facing extreme and cutthroat competition from their fraternity.

I have constantly been concentrating on building capacity and efficiency to face the challenges. We ensure that we have periodic knowledge-sharing sessions, and we attend conferences. We meet market leaders to upskill ourselves and to cater to the emerging markets’ needs in the most efficient way,” he shares.

An Ocean of Legal Wisdom

Prashantha’s advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the legal space is succinctly adept: Knowledge, Hard work and smart work. There is no shortcut to success. The legal industry is not a place for fast money and success. It is a journey. One needs to have deeply penetrated capabilities to provide pragmatic solutions that take the shortest possible time, cost and resources to achieve the desired results.

On envisioning scaling Fox Mandal & Associates’ operations and offerings in the future, Prashantha shares that, as stated earlier, they are a full-service law firm, and they want to scale up their practice areas further to meet the new market trends and scenarios. In this regard, they are working on adding new services areas like ESG, TMT, Space Law, Data Centers, Data Protection, REITS and INVITS and so on. “Furthermore, we are keen to render our services beyond our geographical boundaries. We will shortly have our presence in the middle east and far west. Currently, we have our global offices situated in Singapore and Taiwan,” he concludes.

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