Alumna: Kritika Agrawal
From a commercial lawyer to a finance lawyer: The MLF in practice by Kritika Agrawal (MLF 2015 – 2016)
What’s domestic for one might be foreign for another. In a constantly globalising world, generation of what might be termed as ‘foreign income’ is a regular feature in every economy. Taxing that ‘foreign income’ by a world following a sovereign order is imperative. With a highly mobile professional community, it is commonplace to come across an ever-growing expatriate community as professionals look to expand career and business interests across geographical boundaries. In such a set-up, the role of the lawyer has only increased and ﬁnance lawyers are becoming even more relevant. My learning from the ﬂagship course ‘Law and Economics of Corporate Transactions (LECT)’ on the MSc in Law and Finance program plays an extremely important and relevant role in my professional capacity as an expatriate tax consultant.
When I started the principles of ﬁnancial economics and business ﬁnance courses, there were times when I wondered how I would apply my learnings from these subjects in my profession as a lawyer. But looking back now, my concern was premature. I wasn’t merely learning about the betas and the risks, but about developing intuitions and making calculated decisions (that may also involve undertaking risks at times). The rules of taxation are fairly comprehensive but they are also equally dynamic, susceptible to change every ﬁscal year. It is in these circumstances that what I have learnt from business ﬁnance about intuitions, and also from ﬁnancial economics about sunk costs come into play.
The LECT course is directly inﬂuential in my day-to-day working. It has helped me identify why tax should matter to a corporate/ﬁnance lawyer and what are the constraints on tax planning when structuring a corporate/ﬁnance transaction. As a tax advisor, helping the mobile international community navigate their way across the tax systems of a foreign country or helping a business understand the implications of expanding overseas, it has proved essential for me to be well versed with the policy objectives behind a taxation system, to develop a well-reasoned foresight for potential legislative changes, and advise accordingly. In addition, having opted for Asset Management as a ﬁnance elective has proved intuitive and in line with my current area of work. During the course, I gained insights into the asset management companies directly from the fund managers and CEOs through the specially designed guest lectures and that has helped me obtain an in-depth understanding of that functional area. From a client management perspective, I feel well versed to interact with the clients in the functional language of tax and ﬁnance.
Many times one is asked - what has been the biggest takeaway from the course you just completed or from the assignment you recently undertook? The answer to this question is not as easy as it might seem, especially when it involves deﬁning something intangible. As my ex-boss used to say, 'It is the perspective which identiﬁes a good lawyer from a great lawyer'; that’s exactly what my biggest takeaway has been from the MLF program. As an expatriate tax consultant simultaneously applying myself in more than one tax jurisdiction, what holds me in good stead is the perspective I gained from being on the MLF.