Legal Counsel Varsha Deiveegan on how she acts with integrity & the legal challenges she tackles at FMeesho everyday
From framing policies on the go to dealing with data protection and privacy, Legal Counsel for Meesho, Varsha Deiveegan’s job list at Meesho is diverse and full of learning experiences every day. In her own words she tells us, how life has been like post joining the Meesho rocketship!
Over to Varsha!
I graduated from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad in 2015 and like the rest of my classmates chose the tried and tested path to a placement in transactional, corporate work at BigLaw (full service law firms). While working at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas as part of its general corporate team, I mostly worked on private equity deals.
The scope of individual work is usually limited at such big firms owing to the volume and the very nature of transactional work — everything is team led. While the experience and exposure was rewarding, I found myself itching to work at a place where I would have more ownership over my work. I then worked for three years honing my skills at litigation and advisory in a boutique firm.
To join the in-house legal counsel role at Meesho was the perfect opportunity for me to demonstrate ownership in every sense.
One of the biggest reasons I joined Meesho was that I could take ownership (a core Meesho value) and create a social impact while doing so.
What also intrigued me was the diversity in responsibilities at Meesho. Interestingly, at the time of my joining, there was a buzz about data protection in the country. The opportunity to work on issues relating to data security in a startup like Meesho carried immense potential. In addition to overseeing and reviewing contracts, a fair chunk of my work would revolve around setting processes, safeguarding Meesho’s intellectual property and understanding the business from close quarters. This sounded very interesting to me and I couldn’t wait to get started!
In my role as the Legal Counsel, no one day is the same as the other. My day typically begins with reviewing contracts, and negotiating their terms. I work closely with several departments, especially finance, where the commercials of a contract are usually reviewed. I also get the opportunity to interact and work with several teams across the board such as Marketing to Product and Tech. For instance, if there is an ongoing campaign that Marketing is running, then I look into the legalities of it or if a tech tool is involved, I try and understand how the tool works to define contractual terms better. While reviewing contracts may sound mundane, it is crucial to act on the understanding beyond the legalese, contracts define essential business relationships.
I also do a fair amount of work during investment rounds, and agreements related to it. For a fast paced organisation and evolving social commerce space like Meesho growing at scale, I am also responsible for putting together a lot of standard policies in place. The social commerce domain is so dynamic in nature that we at Meesho need to keep ourselves aligned with the laws. While I no longer go to courts, I work closely with external counsels to handle litigation.
Every new business move means checking if it is compliant with current laws, and safeguarding Meesho’s interests as a company.
The six months that I have spent at Meesho have been incredible. A lot of lawyers transition to this kind of role at a later stage but I got an opportunity to do this pretty early in my career. At Meesho, I learn everyday just by speaking to colleagues across teams and getting my hands dirty. Understanding the nitty gritty of the business as an in-house lawyer is crucial. I have learnt much more about business in these six months than I could have gleaned anywhere else in another job.
With several rounds of investments and Meesho growing steadily at scale during the last six months, let’s just say that my job scope here has been equal parts challenging as well as interesting.
Integrity first. Always!
As the legal counsel, the Meesho value I resonate the most with is Acting with Integrity. And that applies at every stage of my work at Meesho — whether I am speaking with our vendors, or interacting with teams or negotiating contractual terms.
Acting with Integrity for me means Fair Bargain! To build that trust that everybody has a fair bargaining power and are not exploited.
And as a lawyer this really ties in with what I have been taught at law school. Though I often find myself stepping away from the domain of law in several situations where I need to use common sense than legal jargon, in terms of negotiating contracts, drafting policies, and research, my law school training has come in handy.
At Meesho, to see such talented people do such impactful work has been a truly humbling experience for me. I only have gratitude for the things I am learning on the job everyday. And I value that immensely!
From a social justice aspect of law, I think the social impact that Meesho has managed to create has been eye opening. Reaching out to a large number of people at scale and spreading social justice is no small task.
One thing that motivates me everyday is actually a poster of a quote by one of Meesho’s top resellers Lavi Shrivastava framed on the wall, right next to my desk. The quote captures the struggles and joys of finding her own identity, thanks to becoming a Meesho entrepreneur.
On a bad day, I just look at the writing on the wall and get back to doing what I do, because the impact we are making here at Meesho is more than the sum of us!
And if you thought Varsha can only be found poring over those heavy duty legal tomes, then you are wrong Milord! Because our resident legal counsel is a bonafide Haruki Murakami fan, loves to doodle, can be found queuing up for early morning breakfast at Bangalore’s iconic darshinis (she’s a self confessed foodie) and is guilty of watching one too many baby elephant videos on YouTube between reviewing legal contracts. You can see more of Varsha’s adorable doodles on her Instagram page here.
Want to join Varsha and team Meesho and help us create 20 million entrepreneurs in 2020, then we are hiring across several roles. Apply here!