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Advice to my younger self
New York partner Nandan Nelivigi

June 2022: New York partner and Head of White & Case's Americas Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance team, Nandan Nelivigi, talks about his life and gives advice to his younger self.

My father's career was a great influence on me
My dad was a trial lawyer in the small suburban community of Haveri in the Karnataka state in India. He was highly respected for resolving conflicts. I saw how being a lawyer made him an effective civic leader in the town, and how he loved his job.

Environmental law has always been a passion for me
I've been passionate about environmental law and climate issues from my days at law school, but I quickly realized I had a lot to learn about the issues and decided I needed to focus on acquiring the basic skills to be a good lawyer.

It was an eye-opener to join a corporate law firm
Within my first few weeks at White & Case, I was asked to get involved in a huge matter that, at the time, was the largest foreign investment project in India. It was a phenomenal experience and literally became my life for the next five years. I can't overemphasize how much that project influenced and shaped my future as an international project finance lawyer.

It's a dream come true to be doing deals in the US and in India
These are the two countries with which I have the closest connections. It's so exciting to be part of the significant growth and transformation of a practice that is at the center of the global discussion about energy transition and climate change. Having been passionate about the environment from the very start of my career, that's really gratifying, especially because I can now appreciate the challenges from multiple perspectives.

Invest in relationships
I'd also say don't be afraid to take risks, be flexible and invest in the advancement of others' careers. When I see the benefits, I wish I'd done it more. Remember that small gestures are important in building relationships and appreciate what's going well in your life—big or small—rather than taking it for granted.

Know your strengths and weaknesses
But don't be afraid of admitting that you don't know everything. I had a mentor who taught me to keep an open mind and have the courage to embrace new challenges. Also, to have the confidence in your own experience and abilities, and appreciate that there will always be things that you don't know.

At the end of the day, the client experience is everything
All we do should be geared toward giving our clients the best experience possible. As a Firm, we focus on what clients value the most in their interactions with us, such as being understood, protected and prioritized.

I never imagined I'd be where I am right now
My dad passed away a few years ago and he was proud of what I was doing, even though he always said: "You're not a true lawyer unless you've cross-examined someone at the witness stand."