Conversation with Bithika Anand Founder and CEO of Legal League Consulting

Conversation with Bithika Anand Founder and CEO of Legal League Consulting

Bar & Bench

Bithika Anand founded Legal League Consulting, a management consulting company for legal industry and has over 20 years of experience in professional service domain. She talks about setting up LLC, decision to leave Amarchand, her vision for the firm, services provided to law firms and challenges she faced as a woman entrepreneur.

Bar & Bench: What prompted your decision to move from Amarchand Mangaldas and set up your own management consulting company for the legal industry?

Bithika Anand: Amarchand gave me a tremendous opportunity to learn and work in all areas related to the functioning and management of the firm in Delhi.

Moving from Amarchand was not an easy decision to make. I enjoyed the work that I did there but I wanted to do more. I had two niggling questions— What next? Is there more for me to learn in this industry? I took the challenge to explore more and come out with something new and exciting. Hence, moved on.

Being a part of the leading law firm and the legal industry for more than a decade, I realised that law firm management is an extreme niche area to delve into. It was non existent and untested in India. My recent experience in AMSS as well as my prior experience in SB Billimoria & co. and KPMG put together with the course on Management of Legal Practice from University of Nottingham, UK, paved the way to start this venture.

I always wanted to do consulting and be part of global management consulting companies (such as Altman Weil, Kerma Partners, EDGE International etc.) in the legal industry. Amazingly, the circumstances changed, everything fell into place and things moved in that direction. Now it feels good to be associated with EDGE and be part of that league.

Bar & Bench: Tell us how was setting up Legal League Consulting. Challenges you faced.

Bithika Anand: Entrepreneurship had been unexplored territory to me, something I hadn’t experienced before. As I mentioned, I was seeking a challenge to learn something new and create a new identity; Legal League gave me the opportunity to do both.

As a start-up, I had many issues to sort out. Not having a good capital base for a consulting company (that too inLegal Industry where a new concept was being introduced) was a huge challenge. This called for tremendous hard work and commitment to build a client base to meet the operating costs. With my savings and thereafter monthly accruals, we have been able to manage the working capital requirements.

Consulting is a people oriented industry and hence, demands the right talent. Acquiring an appropriate talent for a nascent company with no influencing data sheets, financial backing or great advisory board is very difficult. We had our problems too, in getting a talented pool of consultants. Thankfully, most of them stayed to grow the company.

Currently, Legal League has a team of 8 people without whom this successful journey of a year and a half would not have been possible.

There have been challenges along the way – both operational and strategic, and are bound to be more in the future. We’ll enjoy overcoming them together as a team at Legal League.

Bar & Bench: How difficult was it for you to market and sell the concept of outsourcing internal management work?

Bithika Anand: Law firms are not yet outsourcing their internal management work in the complete sense.

Lawyers like to see facts and, since we were new, we had to prove our capability. The work that we do has tangible and intangible results which are achieved over time. Though challenging it was, we have been able to show desired results to our clients.

When we started, it took us over 6 months to convince our prospective clients and market, about our concepts, products and services. We innovated along the way as per the demand from the law firms.

We found that most managing partners and partners knew the importance of management practices. However, focus on fee earning work and low bandwidth didn’t allow them to make conscious efforts in time to improve firm’s management.

The need for law firm management was low in most of the firms. Therefore, it required sustained efforts, to communicate that our propositions would assist them in increasing turnover and therefore, the profits. Over time, we have become a part of the progressive change in various law firms.

Many, however, should be given the credit of trying to improve, change and invest in their firms.

We can see law firms evolving in a very real way.

Bar & Bench: What services do you provide to law firms or let us know what role do you play in the law firm’s management?

Bithika Anand: We offer a comprehensive set of services in the areas of Firm Strategy and Business Planning, Partnership Structuring, Management & Governance, Knowledge Management, Human Resource Management, Brand Communications, Financial Analysis and Forecasting, Recruitment and Alliances etc.

We are also focussing a lot on Training & Development of lawyers through both technical and non technical (soft skills) workshops to assist lawyers hone their skill set/s. Workshops on managerial aspects and business development receives good participation which shows the inclination towards understanding management principles and practices for effective governance by lawyers. We even customise these workshops for specific client/s to create desired results.

Our hands-on experience (while having worked with law firms) allows us to understand issue/s of the firm and arrive at practical solutions. While doing so, often we go beyond the mandate to ensure they are resolved. Our approach allows us to attain results for our clients; most of whom consider us as their “Trusted Advisors”.

The concept of management in law firms is not about just business support. It is a very integral part to the growth of the firm. Due to our experience, we give our recommendations after analysis of the whole picture which includes aspects such as culture, practice management, financial performance, environment analysis and performance and productivity enhancement to name a few. We always say that being technically good is critical in this highly competitive environment; however, investment in all aspects of management is the key in building a truly professional and sustainable law firm.

Bar & Bench: With your experience of advising law firms in management consultancy, which area or areas of law firm management according to you requires the maximum amount of your time or attention.

Bithika Anand: In my experience, there are 4 main areas that require my maximum attention while consulting for law firms. These are Partnership Structuring, Management & Governance, Human Resource Management and building relationships with the managing partners and other partners at the firm.

Partnership structuring and governance is the core of any law firm and if it is formulated or designed keeping in mind the Managing Partner and other Partners’ vision, culture, philosophies and aspirations, then the foundation of the firm is solidified which can then support the growth through various tools.

Bar & Bench: You are now advising more than 30 law firms in the country. What is the vision of your firm?

Bithika Anand: Our vision is to become the most preferred and trusted management consulting company in the Legal Industry and to be the consultants who “understand” the needs of their clients and offer real solutions that are valued by them.

We aspire to make law firms more professionally managed, following best practices across the globe.

Bar & Bench: As a woman entrepreneur, what challenges did you face while building this business?

Bithika Anand: Management Consulting is a tough offering in the Legal Industry. Whether you are a man or a woman entrepreneur, the challenges remain the same – Business, People and Capital.

For any entrepreneur who is starting something new, it takes effort to create acceptability (of one’s propositions/concepts), and demonstrate capability, and therefore build credibility.

None the less, the key to success is patience, focus, commitment and strength. It is very important to tell yourself everyday and more importantly in the toughest circumstances, “Don’t give up”.

The reason I have been able to pursue my quest to have a career and follow my dreams is because there has been a significant contribution from my family and an immeasurable support from my team. I must say that I am very thankful to clients who gave us mandates when Legal League had been just a few months old and put in so much faith in our services.

We have done well in the short frame of time and are very happy with our growth so far.

Bar & Bench: The recent strategic alliance with Edge International. Tell us more about this alliance.

Bithika Anand: The arrangement with the EDGE International is mutually beneficial for both in which we will be sharing knowledge and working jointly in India and abroad.

The Partners at EDGE have such a diverse range of experience. They’re experts in the areas of professional firms’ economics, mergers & acquisitions, governance, strategic and tactical issues, legal department management, coaching & training, leadership development, operational and financial performance, business modelling, project management to name a few. This alliance will not only further add value to our clients; it will also serve as a great learning platform for everyone at Legal League. Our association with EDGE will equip them with the depth of our knowledge of the legal industry in India. We will also together be able to target LPOs and legal departments across boundaries and focus on expanding law firm management in the Asia- Pacific.

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