In Focus Pavani Reddy talks about raising the bar in the legal system
For someone who studied accounting and chanced upon law, Pavani Reddy is doing extremely well. All of 33, she has managed to become the first and only female managing partner in her firm, Zaiwalla and Co. Solicitors based in the UK. The firm is fact is the first Indian origin firm to be set up in England. Pavani Reddy was awarded the Asian Woman of the Year award in 2010 and was given the Glory of India award last year for her work in international arbitration and joint venture projects.
Pavani specialises in arbitration and has worked for clients like the Tamil Nadu government. One of the cases she worked on resulted in the recovery of the antique Nataraja idol for the Tamil Nadu government. Pavani also successfully defended the Indian state-owned TNEB in a 170 million pound case. Dressed sharp, in a grey pant-suit, Pavani Reddy talks about how she proved her mettle in the tough world of law. “When I first came to the UK, I was like a fish out of water, I had to work hard to understand the law here, but once I did that, it was a breeze,” she smiles.
While Pavani never came across blatant sexism, she is aware that other lawyers often dismissed a woman’s voice. “My struggle came with the fact that clients would first think that I was a woman and then think that I was too ‘young’ or ‘naïve’ to handle their cases, but once they saw my work product, they simply shut up,” she laughs.
Pavani Reddy has made it to the top completely on her own and she thanks the judicial system for giving her a fair chance. “It’s a just system, you’ll find discouragement through your co-workers, never through the judiciary,” she says.
“It’s important to never forget your roots,” she says. Pavani has had to juggle between a family life and a career but she stresses that it is extremely important for women to work. “You have to work, not because you need to earn money (of course that is important) but the driving force should be to challenge yourself,” she says. Pavani says that working builds an identity and makes you realise your own true potential, be it man or woman.
Pavani Reddy set up the first Telugu Association of London in 2005 with an aim of promoting Telugu culture in London; this she starts at home with her five-year-old son who speaks fluent Telugu. She laments that there are not many lawyers from Andhra Pradesh who come to the UK to practice law. “International arbitration is the next big thing and I would like to guide young lawyers from my home-state in this field,” says Pavani.
You have to work, not because you need to earn money (of course that is important) but the driving force should be to challenge yourself