In this feature, we talk to N. Sreenivasan, SC from Straits Law Practice LLC. Sreeni’s overriding commitment is to his client’s cause, subject only to the advocates overriding duty to the court. His advocacy and standing as a litigator have admitted him to the ranks of Senior Counsel at the Supreme Court of Singapore. He loves doing cases involving technical and accounting matters and expert evidence, where court craft can be enjoyed at its best. His main practice areas cover litigation and dispute resolution of all types.
What made you choose to be a lawyer?
N Sreenivasan: Nothing specific actually. I did not want to do engineering or political science and I wasn’t smart enough for medicine.
Do you still feel that the same reason still drives you today?
N Sreenivasan: After 31 years in the legal practice, I am not qualified to do anything else!
After practicing law for many years, how do you stave off burn-out?
N Sreenivasan: I try to work only 5 days a week and have other interests. My youngest child is 10 years old and I have to keep up with him.
How do you keep yourself grounded amidst the workload you face?
N Sreenivasan: I enjoy the company of my partners, my juniors and colleagues at the bar. And when things go not so well, I have lots of friends who will commiserate with me.
What is your most challenging / significant/ impactful case?
N Sreenivasan: Every case is different. The most satisfying case was “Man B&W Diesel S E Asia Pte and Another v PT Bumi International Tankers and Another Appeal
 SGCA 8” where we argued a very interesting point of law in relation to the intersection of liability in tort and exclusions/ limitations in a chain of contracts.
Another significant case I did was the case involving the mix up in IVF procedure. The legal issues were very complex and we were in uncharted territory on the question of what the loss was and how it should be compensated. The mix up created complex emotions and we, as the lawyers, had to ensure that the client’s concerns were addressed both at a human and legal level.
What is your most memorable case?
N Sreenivasan: I remember all my cases! Every case is a challenge, one way or the other.
Do you have any regrets or something that you wished to do differently?
N Sreenivasan: No. Never regret what you have done or not done – you cannot change the past.
Any word of advice for younger lawyers and aspiring lawyers?
N Sreenivasan: Keep up your quality of work! It makes the work more satisfying and motivates you better.
Secondly, organise your thoughts, analyse your arguments and present them precisely and concisely, whether in oral argument or in written submissions.
Have you received any accolades that you are most proud of?
N Sreenivasan: Being appointed Senior Counsel for sure! It is a recognition directly connected to the craft I practice every day.
Is there a particular legal issue or area that you think should be reviewed or work to further develop it?
N Sreenivasan: I think the system has become too adversarial in criminal law. The Prosecution feels that it has to ‘push’ for convictions and harsher sentences. It used to be that that were no wins or losses for the Prosecution; just a job done in presenting evidence.
What do you think about the future of lawyering?
N Sreenivasan: I am 56 years old. There is more lawyering behind me than ahead of me.
What legal issue or area do you think will become more significant in the future?
N Sreenivasan: Social media. Social media is pervasive and is the source of information, means of communications and it moulds public perception and reaction. The social media dimension will have to be a key consideration in almost everything we do.
If you were to compare the legal landscape in the past versus the present, what do you think has changed the most?
N Sreenivasan: The profession is not as close-knit and cohesive. When I first started, it was much easier to get to know my seniors and to get their help or advice.
What are your thoughts on legal technology and how it will change the way the law is served?
N Sreenivasan: It has levelled the playing field. Legal precedents and case law are available not just to all, but even when one is on the move as they can access it through mobile devices.
What do you think is the value lawyers bring to the table, in a deal, a case?
N Sreenivasan: We do for clients what they would do for themselves if they had our knowledge, experience, and training. We should give advice with the commercial ends in mind.
What motivates and drives you on a daily basis?
N Sreenivasan: I think that discipline is more important than motivation. I maintain regular hours, come in early and always try to finish work ahead of deadlines.
Could you share with our readers one thing that resonates with you personally? It could be a quote, a book recommendation, a philosophical/religious idea, or even an artwork.
N Sreenivasan: God, give me the strength to change what I can, the patience to accept what I can’t and the wisdom to tell the difference.
Please share a bit more about your personal interests and passions outside lawyering?
N Sreenivasan: Surfing the internet and watching current affairs and information video clips.