Going beyond lawyering

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An interview with Neena Gupta of InterGlobe Enterprises sheds light on why companies across India are waking up to how valuable in-house lawyers can be

Being an in-house lawyer of a company that is almost continuously embarking on something new isn’t every lawyer’s cup of tea. So InterGlobe Enterprises, an aviation and travel-related group of companies, is fortunate to have Neena Gupta as group general counsel. In recent years the group has been on a growth trajectory akin to that of a Silicon Valley startup, which is rarely achievable within the complex and often confusing regulatory and legal reality of India.

Gupta and her team of 16 in-house lawyers have the formidable task of providing “very sound risk-free advice” to the group as it “does new things every day”. Over the past four to five years businesses within InterGlobe have set up seven hotels across India with 12 more on the way, 37 retail outlets in stations across Delhi’s metro rail network, delivery centres for travel technology-related services both in India and abroad, and IndiGo airlines, India’s largest and fastest growing budget airline, among other ventures.

InterGlobe Enterprises was established in 1989 with just five employees as a general sales agent for international airlines. It now has 11,000 employees and offices across 59 cities in India and elsewhere. The group appointed a general counsel in 2004: Aditya Ghosh from J Sagar Associates. Gupta joined four years later from the same firm, after Ghosh had moved on to become the president of IndiGo. She reports to Interglobe group managing director, Rahul Bhatia.

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