Kavita Singh

This was a BLD interview with Debo Nwauzu in December 2010. Read more about Kavita Singh in the Directory

Kavita Singh is Senior Legal Counsel at Drax Power Limited, owner-operator of the largest coal fired power station in Western Europe, which generates seven per cent of the UK’s electricity supply.

Kavita graduated with an MA (Hons) in Law from Cambridge University in 1989 and completed her Solicitors’ Final Examinations at the College of Law, Guildford the following year.  She joined Clifford Chance as a trainee in 1990 and qualified as a solicitor in 1992 within the firm’s Banking and Finance Practice.  Kavita specialised in derivatives, banking and finance structures, working at Clifford Chance in London, New York and Hong Kong acting on behalf of the firm’s major global investment banking clients.

In 1996, Kavita was appointed as Executive Director and Counsel of Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s leading financial firms, first based in Hong Kong then Singapore, where she was responsible for the legal and regulatory aspects of Equity Derivatives and Private Wealth Management businesses across the Asia–Pacific region.

Kavita was appointed as Senior Legal Counsel of Drax Power Limited in 2007.  She currently heads a specialist Legal and Compliance team based at the company’s 4,000 MW North Yorkshire power plant; making her one of the very few specialist finance lawyers working at the heart of British heavy industry.  Kavita’s team manages all legal and regulatory aspects of the energy, commodity, renewables, derivatives and structured trading operations of the company.  She also oversees the legal aspects of the company’s corporate finance activities.  Kavita was one of The Lawyer magazine’s Hot 100 lawyers of 2010 in the in-house category.  The magazine referred to her execution of major energy transactions and creation of a specialist energy team on site at the Drax Power Station as having achieved “mission impossible”.

In April 2010, Kavita’s team, in recognition of their “outstanding pro bono achievements”, won the Pro Bono Award at the International Law Office European Counsel Awards.  Kavita was singled out by leading individuals in the legal profession for her commitment to providing free advice to charities and people who would not otherwise have access to legal services; this has included advising the families of children with multiple and complex disabilities and special needs such as cerebral palsy and autism.

Below is our interview with Kavita.

BLD: Why did you choose a legal career?
KS: I probably had a natural leaning towards the law.  I’m told that even in early childhood I demonstrated little tolerance for unfairness; “It’s not fair!” being a phrase I coined aged three.  My parents also made an early prediction that I would probably talk for a living. 

BLD: If you were to choose another role/profession other than law, what would it be and why?
KS: Teaching.  It sounds very clichéd, but in my mind, it is probably the most noble of professions.

BLD: What was the best career advice you were given?
KS: Advice from my parents to treat everyone with respect – whoever they are; and to never stop learning.

BLD: What was the worst career advice you were given?
KS: None that I can remember.  Hopefully I filtered it out!

BLD: What career advice would you give to others?
KS: Play to your strengths; don’t set yourself boundaries; work hard and do something you enjoy and are passionate about. 

BLD: Who is the person you most admire (dead or alive) and why?
KS: Mahatma Gandhi – without a doubt – for his message to Live your Values.

BLD: What are you most passionate/happiest about?
KS: My three children, Anjali, Jai and Raj.

BLD: What are your dislikes?
KS: Prejudice, injustice and any form of stereotyping.

BLD: What was your worst moment as a lawyer?
KS: Going for almost three days with no sleep, no shower and eating stale sandwiches; then missing my own birthday party.  An occupational hazard for the transaction lawyer!

BLD: Tell us about your professional high point(s).
KS: Through my pro bono work, I have had the privilege of providing legal advice to the families of children who have profound, multiple and complex disabilities and challenges.  I have been awe-inspired by the courage, dedication and persistence that these families have shown in their efforts to secure much needed support and services for their children.  The opportunity to assist in these efforts has definitely been one of the highlights of my career.

BLD: What was the most famous/interesting case(s) you have handled to date?
KS:  In my current post, the unique opportunity to practise law situated at the power plant – literally working “at the coal face” has been extremely interesting.  Being in the very unique position of being situated at the very heart of the energy sector is certainly one of the most exciting opportunities I have had to date.  Looking out of the office window and seeing the enormous cooling towers and power lines never fails to focus our team on the relevance and importance of what we are working on.  As a lawyer, being on site at the plant also allows us to understand the risks around the business and the energy sector generally far better and more effectively than if we were working remotely in a bank, law firm or corporate head office.

BLD: Any professional regrets?
KS: Thankfully, none.

BLD: How do you juggle family life and a career?
KS: It’s not easy.  Supportive family, friends and of course supportive employers are key to achieving this.

BLD: Tell us more about your family?
KS: I have been blessed to have a great deal of family support and encouragement throughout my career.  I actually grew up in a medical family – many generations of medics! My grand and great grandfathers were physicians; my father and brother surgeons.  Miraculously, my second brother, who is an RAF Fighter Pilot, and I managed to escape to other professions – we were never that partial to the sight of blood.  In line with current trends, my young children of course each aspire to be pop stars.