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Ex-Luthra partner Madhu Mukherjee helps IDIA scale up, teaches, mulls ‘strategic’ move in no hurry

Mukherjee: Coming up with new IDIAs
Mukherjee: Coming up with new IDIAs
Former Luthra & Luthra capital markets head Madhurima Mukherjee has been assisting the Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) legal education NGO in formalising and scaling up operations since she quit the law firm five months ago.

“To make IDIA an institution, we have to take the focus away from individuals and highlight the fundamentals of what the movement has to offer,” Mukherjee said about the three-year-old initiative to fund the legal education of financially less privileged school children who are often from marginalised societies. The project was founded by fellow NLSIU Bangalore alum Shamnad Basheer.

“We thought let’s try to make it easier for people to understand this movement, to volunteer and to contribute,” she commented adding: “If any of the larger organisations or donors want to associate with [IDIA] they need to see something that is transparent, accountable, ethical and basically a professionally run setup.”

Mukherjee has been involved with IDIA as a non-trustee with the designation of “chief mentor” to guide the scaling up of the project. She is overseeing IDIA’s funding, awareness programmes and is attempting to “formalise its structure” and “bridge the gap between the profession and IDIA”, she explained.

“The first few years have been the hardest test for Shamnad and the team. Now that the track record has been established (with some Indian firms and foreign firms like Herbert Smith and OMM engaging with us) we are trying to corporatise [IDIA]. We are also trying to get a professional management in place.

“We have student volunteers from every law school, we also have team leaders and executive directors who oversee operations. One of the things we have decided is a need to hire a chief executive officer, who is going to be head of operations and will be in management on a day to day basis. All the directors will report to that person.”

She told Legally India that apart from supervising IDIA’s entire legal documentation, she has been raising awareness and reaching out to NLS alumni and donors for corporate funding. “While we have received positive response from the legal community but till date our biggest donors have been individuals who trust the cause and have personal faith in Shamnad or Shishira [Rudrappa] or me. Now we are reaching out in a big way to law firms, corporates and institutions.

“There are many in the profession who want to give back. It is just a question of making the connect in an organised manner.”

Mukherjee said that she was working on IDIA full time until she was “back in the profession” after which she would continue on an advisory basis. She is currently also taking a seminar course on securities law at NUJS Kolkata and will take visiting courses at NLU Delhi and JGLS Sonepat after NUJS.

“I am absolutely in no rush to get back [to get a job] because the next move has to be strategic and has to make sense. I have reached a place in my career where my corporate relationships and reputation can contribute to growing business beyond capital market work. But walking away from something you have built is the hardest thing in the world. I am clear that if I have to invest in something meaningful, it should stay with me for (hopefully) the rest of my working life. I am currently engaged with the law and the markets are not going anywhere,” she commented.

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