An Impactful Interview with ACS L.L.M Miss Sapna Sarda on efficacy of Law with Company secretary

Interview by- Shuvasmita Nanda

Miss SAPNA SARDA is a Lawyer, an Associate Company Secretary and an Academician. She has expertise in drafting legal documents overseeing corporate regulatory compliance and conducting due diligence of Companies. She is also strongly associated with VAIDHA being our Senior Editor which makes her one of the most special persons to interview.

Email- or follow her in Linked in-

1. Could you please define the role of a Company Secretary in a company explaining its importance in today's world?

Ans:- Sure. So, Company Secretary or Chartered Secretary, can be regarded as a compliance officer of a company. He/she is responsible for ensuring efficient administration in a company, particularly with regards to the statutory and the regulatory requirements. Not only this, but a Company Secretary plays a largely supportive role, taking care of important tasks such as general administration, shareholder communication, corporate governance etc. He/She acts as a bridge between the company, the shareholders and the stakeholders, ensuring that all the relevant information is shared with them on time. Talking about the importance of a Company Secretary in today's world, the position of a Company Secretary is of utmost significance. With the drastic changes being made in corporate law, smooth functioning of the administration process in a business environment of the company is the need of the hour and this is where the role of Company Secretary comes into play. Due to the advent of globalization, the entry of foreign companies into the domestic territory of our country has smoothened, which has led to increase in compliance.  This has expanded the role and scope of Company Secretaries, as now they are expected to assume responsibilities which have global recognition. Undoubtedly, the role of Company Secretary has undergone tremendous transition over the last few decades and this profession is continuously evolving. 2. What are the stages in the Company Secretary course? How relevant is a law degree with Company Secretary?

Ans:- The curriculum of the Company Secretary is quite intensive in nature. The students who join the course after passing their Class XII examination have to undergo three (3) stages to pursue the Company Secretaries course namely- 1. Foundation Program, which is now replaced with "CSEET" (Company Secretary Executive Entrance Test) is a purely MCQ based online examination consisting of four parts viz. (i) Business Communication; (ii) Legal Aptitude & Logical Reasoning (iii) Economic and Business Environment & (iv) Current Affairs; and Viva Voce on “Presentation and Communication Skills”   2. Executive Program, consisting of 8 subjects divided into 2 modules/groups. Out of 8 subjects, the examination for 3 subjects is based on MCQ pattern while the rest are conducted in written format.  3. Professional Program, consisting of 9 subjects (one elective) divided into 3 modules/groups. The examination for all the subjects is conducted in written format.  The students who join the course after completing their graduation have to undergo two stages of the Company Secretary course i.e. the Executive Program and Professional Program. Also, each and every student is required to undergo articleship and training as prescribed by the ICSI (Institute of Company Secretaries of India) subjects. Speaking of how relevant, a law degree is with Company Secretary, I must say that it broadens your frame of mind. The law course (5 year/3 year) offers a study of about 36 subjects in total. The course is designed in such a way that it not only develops our understanding of the law but it also encourages us to think critically. On the other hand, in the Company Secretary curriculum, we study about 30 to 50 Regulations/Acts, but the approach here, is majorly “practical based”. The Company Secretary exams are conducted in such a fashion that gives more importance to practicalities involved in the corporate sector. This course gives you an insight of the realities into the corporate world. So if you are someone who is deeply interested in corporate laws, then pursuing Company Secretary along with law is a very good option. 3. What are the advantages of having both the company secretary and law degree? Does the course of the company secretary will help a student if he/she wants to be a corporate lawyer? Is the company secretary course a good helpful addition if they want to be an In house counsel? Ans:-The Company Secretary course, is a full-fledged career option in itself. When combined with law, I would say it has the potential to unlock those consecrated doors of the corporate world to you, that may lead you towards success. A Company Secretary  with a law degree may perform dual duty for the companies as general counsel as well as by serving another legal role within the company. These days, the multinational companies prefer to appoint candidates who can perform such dual roles efficiently. Company Secretary  qualification along with a law degree will be an added advantage in companies where legal and compliance are managed by the same team. So if you are someone who aspires to become a Corporate Lawyer, then pursuing this dual qualification of LLB and Company Secretary would be extremely beneficial, as it will not only pave way for better employment opportunities but also provide a plethora of career options to choose from. Not only this, but on the academic front as well, there are various universities that have recognized the Company Secretary Qualification as equivalent to a post graduate degree for pursuing a PH.D course. So it is basically a win-win situation! 4. Will it be fine to do two full-fledged professional courses together won't it add additional pressure on the person pursuing it?

Ans:-There is absolutely no problem in pursuing two full-fledged professional courses together. Dual Qualification does no harm at all. Rather, it widens your perspective. Yes, I understand that Law and CS, these two courses are very intensive and rigorous, but as an academician, my opinion is that while pursuing both of these courses together, one must learn to strike a balance between the two . And this balance would be attained only when you know how to manage your time well. The words like "pressure", "stress" or "anxiety" are more of a mental state for me, and I believe that they come in all forms and are an unavoidable consequence of various situations that we come across in our lives. With the right approach, determination and focus, it can be handled with much ease. After all, what's life without challenges?   One more thing which I would like to add here is that, one must also take some time out for pursuing their hobbies. Because that would help in decluttering your mind and will allow you to take a break from your day-to-day stresses.

5. In pursuing both the courses  a student's concentration might get diverted leading to no or less participation in moot courts and other educational activities will that diversion be fine for the student's future?

Ans:-As per my belief, there is no such diversion caused while pursuing these two courses and there is absolutely no detrimental effect on the student’s future. The only thing needed is the “right mindset” of the student who is willing to undertake these courses. Also, when you are pursuing two full-fledged professional courses, it is very important for each and every student to set their own priorities. It is imperative for a student to analyze, how he/she can utilize his/her time for their best. They must identify what can “make” them & what can “break” them. For example - It is a known fact that the CS exams are conducted twice in a year, in the months of June & December. On the other hand, the Law course is based on “semester pattern” that usually gets over by the month of April/October. So, honestly speaking, a student has ample of time to plan his/her studies well in  advance and can easily take part in college activities to explore their interests. Also, one must understand that merely “planning” is not enough, you have to take effort to work your plan. Like, you can’t just sit and Netflix all day, hoping things to change. You need to set your goals straight. I remember when I was a law student, I participated in all the activities - be it moot courts, client consultation competitions, trial advocacy competition, judgment writing sessions  or cultural activities. And the reason why I could manage all this along with my Company Secretary and LLB studies, was that there was a proper plan in place and a successful execution of the same. 6. What are the other career opportunities that a person can pursue if he has both the company secretary and Law degree? Ans:-There are abundant career opportunities available to a person who has both the CS and Law degree. To name a few, with this dual qualification, a person can work as – - Corporate Planner, Secretarial Auditor, Legal Advisor, Compliance Officer for various multi-national companies/law firms - He/She can become an Insolvency Professional by passing limited insolvency examination conducted by Insolvency & Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) - He/She can build their career in stock markets by assuming roles of portfolio managers, investment bankers etc - He/She can appear for University Grants Commission (UGC) NET/SET examination for the post of “Assistant Professor”. - He/She can apply for the posts of Assistant Manager in regulatory institutions like – Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Nationalized Banks etc after clearing the requisite examination. Both of these courses have a promising future and are considered as very respectful professions. Company Secretary Qualification along with a degree of law, is a very powerful combination indeed!

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