Everyone thinks of starting on his / her own at some point or the other in life. It is the ultimate dream of all first-generation lawyers, particularly those who are proficient in relationship building and are confident of generating business on their own.
Working with big law firms for so long made Mr Bhumesh Verma (Managing Partner) realise that there was scope for more personal, accessible and customised legal services and this culminated in creation of Corp Comm Legal.
Corp Comm Legal is a boutique Indian law firm with its headquarters in New Delhi and associate offices in other major Indian cities. On international assignments, they work with foreign law firms on a non-exclusive basis.
Corp Comm Legal also has a global network of boutique law firms to provide seamless services to clients all over the world. In association with its global network, Corp Comm Legal provides end-to-end legal solutions to its domestic and international clients, be it M&A, corporate advisory, due diligence, litigation, arbitration, IPR, HR, compliances and so on. The clients can be assured of same level of services across the world with excellent turnaround time and genuine estimate of billing.
First generation lawyers with no family background in legal profession or contacts have always had it hard, be it now or long back. They have to work extra hard to be recognised and appreciated. They have to climb stairs whereas those with a silver spoon manage to get best internships, placements and what not by pulling some strings here and there. Mr Bhumesh Verma, Managing Partner at Corp Comm Legal says “I remember a first gen lawyer friend being snubbed by another one (with a privileged background) in Supreme Court, telling the former “it will take some years for you to get here”. However, in the long run, it is your own efficiency and delivery of service that matters – all other factors get decimated sooner or later. Luckily, I was always working among very learned colleagues all the time, who had no bias towards a privileged background and it helped me a lot in my career.”
Today, it has become fashionable to flaunt one’s underprivileged background to gain sympathy – be it TV talent shows or LinkedIn and so on. However, Bhumesh says that his generation worked much harder even they had no rich parents to support 5 year courses at private universities, no internship or placement opportunities, no stipend working with litigation lawyers, to name a few impediments but without complaining and professionalising Indian legal profession to global standards.
Today’s struggles are of a different kind. Sometimes, it seems amusing for law students to argue “I have spent X amount on my education, I must get a minimum Y amount of remuneration”. One needs to understand that your education spend is not a fixed deposit or a mutual fund investment, assuring you a fixed or guaranteed return. You have to earn every penny in the profession with hard work; impatience doesn’t make it any better.
If you are hardworking and efficient, you will definitely have your place under the sun even if takes time. Always believe in ‘Apna Time Aayega’!
The space for boutique law firms considering big firms are becoming bigger and bigger:
It is a global phenomenon of big law and boutique firms coexisting and complementing each other.
However, some big firms get inflexible after a certain time, working like factories, having monthly targets, budgets, resultant burnouts. At times, they may not be receptive or attentive to smaller matters nor ready to invest in long term relationships. It also cuts both ways – not all clients can afford the big law firms nor can the latter devote their best resources for smaller deals and matters. Even Corp Comm Legal gets so many job applications from all big law firm lawyers, be it associates, senior associates or partners because of burnouts and other issues.
Therefore, Bhumesh feels that there is a sweet spot for small / midsized firms to cater to a wider range of clients with more attention and flexibility in fee and emphasis on a balanced life for lawyers. In smaller firms, the clients actually get to work with the person they want to work with, have direct access and say in handling of their matter. There is no padding up of fee or loading of lawyer’s fancy office / software costs and so on.
Remember, biggest actors and players are among richest people list because we buy the products endorsed by them. Next time you feel impressed by an amazing office or gadgets of a lawyer or a law firm, remember clients pay for it!
Switching to a boutique law firm format
The transition is both challenging and interesting. The challenge lies in being an initiator and executant of workflow at the same time – most of the lawyers in big law firms play the second part whereas the promoters are rain makers.
It is interesting in the sense that you get a sense of credit, accomplishment and satisfaction about everything you do – even if you make X revenue (howsoever small amount it is), it belongs to you and your team and you are in charge of its distribution.
Switching to your own also provides you flexibilities to pursue your passions – for example, in last 2 and half years, apart from regular practice, Bhumesh has addressed thousands of students in classrooms and online, written 350 articles, 3 books and done his bit in improving the legal education standards in the country. This would never have been possible in a big law firm. We guess none of his contemporaries working in any other law firms can boast this much.
Corp Comm Legal is also a knowledge partner with some of the best Indian legal education institutions to impart practical training sessions / credit courses for their students. It also encourages and engages students from such institutions in researching and writing with it. Corp Comm Legal team works on students’ submissions and often publishes their research in journals / websites in students’ names.
Global network of law firms.
Corp Comm Legal has tied up with like-minded relatively smaller firms from India and abroad and brought them under a common platform ‘Global Business Lawyers’ League’. Most of the promoters of these firms have been partners with big international law firms or in-house counsel, started on their own and offer world class services with more personal attention and customisation.
About the state of competition in law firms’ space
In India, smaller firms face competition even from biggest of law firms which could resort to undercutting, predatory pricing and so on just to throw the competition out of the market and capture work for their bench strength. Most of the industry forums are virtually cornered by bigger firms by sponsorships and other means. Smaller firms lack such visibility and avenues for showcasing their abilities. The government provides encouragement and incentives to industrial MSMEs but no such avenues are available for smaller law firms and they are left to fend for themselves.
However, we have to live with it – a free economy is order of the day. This is one of the reasons for assembling a global network of smaller firms to have a collective say in such adverse atmosphere. Corp Comm Legal is growing bit by bit and are optimistic about the future. After all, Rome was not built in a day!
Corp Comm Legal is at the cusp of a great future. With recent legal and economic reforms initiated by the government, better days are certainly ahead for Indian legal profession. India’s place as a preferred FDI destination is bound to be further cemented and they foresee a lot of growth in domestic and international assignments. With a mandate not to open up any new law schools for next few years, there is an effort to streamline legal education as well. The professional standards will certainly get better.