Meet this Chartered Accountant Who is Thriving in Legal Management Consulting. And How You Can Too.
- Hi! I am Nipun Bhatia a proud Chartered Accountant and Lawyer.
- For me, CA was a tough call as I wasn’t too inclined in taking up a career that involved a lot of number-crunching. However, I loved business and so took up Chartered Accountancy along with Law.
- In 2009, I started my career as a Finance Manager only to realise this is not what I wanted from life.
- I quit my finance job, joined a Law firm and helped them in Finance as well as law, gradually moving to Management consulting for law firms.
- Here is my story where I talk about my journey of NOT shying away from making unconventional choices and living a fulfilling, creative and gratuitous professional life!
Tracing Back Roots - Pursuing CA and Law
After class 12, I took up the Commerce stream as I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy...for my mother! She valued the CA course because of the repute and respect attached to it and always wanted me to be one!
However, I soon realised that 'I am not a number person'...instead, I enjoyed subjects like business studies and economics, taxation, etc.
In my opinion, Law would be ideal for me!
But how do I decide?
So, I decided to seek guidance from my teachers and family members.
After several rounds of consulting, I was explained that if 'I opt for CA the tryst with numbers can’t be taken away'.
However, they also made me realise that 'CA is not just about number crunching or plain accounting!'
The CA course would impart me with expertise in studying financial statements and also enable me to further explore interconnected fields of finance, accounts, economics, audit and taxation....all of which are essential for anyone who intends to be a complete business package!
Completely aware of the challenges that were about to come in my way, I made a choice to pursue Chartered Accountancy and Law, both together!
A decision, I never regretted!
Making A Leap Into The Corporate World....only to Quit!
After several ups and downs, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and Lawyer...and like more freshers I took up my first job as a Finance Manager in a subsidiary of a renowned apparel brand!
While I was handling most of my duties (as a finance manager) to perfection, I soon realised that I was definitely more inclined towards legal aspects of my day to day working!
Whether it was entering into simple contracts with lessors and vendors; or volunteering to give inputs about cast & crew agreements and copyright assignments...I would leave no opportunity to offer reading the paper-work and add value!
I was now sure that somewhere ‘I needed to be connected to the field of Law’...I had to choose a career option that could give me a blend of finance and law!
But was that possible?
Starting all over...at a Law (not CA) Firm!
“If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”
I finally decided to make a bold move and pursue my passion...I started to look out for opportunities at a 'Law firm' where I could have dual roles in Finance and Law!
Around the same time, I was fortunate to meet Bithika Anand (also a qualified Chartered Accountant), who was recruiting for a boutique IPR Law Firm.
The law firm was looking for a professional who could not only look after the financial aspect but also administration, human resources and operations. It entailed exercising multi-dimensional skills and implementing the learnings during the CA course, as well as the LL.B. course, to practical use.
Also right after passing CA and LLB, I pursued a six-month specialization course in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)!
In short, this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me...needless to say, I took it up and it has been one of my best decisions!
Moving to Legal Management Consulting
I was thoroughly enjoying helping this law firm make the right decision in terms of - how to plan strategic growth of their organisations, how to be an effective leader, how to manage relationships with clients and colleagues, knowledge building, brand enhancement and profit-sharing structures.
However, while helping the Law firm streamline its operational aspects, I used to wonder how several other Law firms and managing partners are planning to professionalize their operations and business support.
I was also intrigued to learn the management styles of different managing partners and understand the growth stories of firms that became renowned brands.
And so after spending close to three years at this Law firm, I was confident to take up more challenging roles and was hungry to contribute more to the legal profession as a Chartered Accountant!
In short, I realised the role of a Chartered Accountant in 'management consulting in the legal profession'.
Fortunately, around the same time, I met Bithika Anand (again!) who had recently set up Legal League Consulting (LLC), India’s first management consultancy for the global legal profession.
Learning how she was hand-holding law firms and several other organisations in the legal sector towards professionalisation, gave me the confidence to join her team and be a part of this unique initiative!
And there has been no turning back...I can finally say I have found the career path I was looking for!
"Role as a CA providing 'Management Consulting' to law firms?"
The legal sector is still opening its arms to professional management consulting.
And perhaps the fact that the field still has a lot of scope for well-defined solutions keeps me motivated to apply creative thinking in deriving innovative solutions!
It gives me a unique sense of satisfaction and purpose.
Most of the people that I have worked with, in this industry, have valued the contribution I’ve made to their professional lives. The fact that I’ve been able to build not just ‘connections’, but ‘relationships’ and ‘bonds’ speaks for itself.
Here is my role:
- Helping law firms and lawyers in Partnership/Equity Structuring, Practice Development and building synergies by way of facilitating mergers, acquisitions, alliances and tie-ups.
- Working in strategic advisory positions to the Managing Partners, Partners and Management Committees, assisting them in planning about new and upcoming niche practice areas to be promoted, the professionalisation of business support functions, bringing automation/technology into solutions, and most importantly, helping them build a brand.
- Owing to my interest in the field of Human Resource Development, I help several law firms with respect to macro-level Manpower Planning & Projections, introducing and implementing innovative HR Best Practices, Compensation Structuring, Designations and Career Progression, Grievance Handling and Conflict Resolution.
- I am an IP-enthusiast and my interest in the field of IPR, my post-graduation specialization, and my experience of working with an IPR firm in the formative years of my career have enabled me to assist several top-notch boutique-IPR firms of the country.
- Advising Law firms in streamlining their operations, mergers/acquisitions, partnership structuring, compensation benchmarking, implementation of legal-tech solutions, brand enhancement and market positioning.
- In short, there is no limit to a Chartered Accountant providing management consulting services to law firms!
“Law Firm Management Consulting instead of traditional IDT or corporate Law?"
- 'New area for CAs: The quest to do something unusual’ was the primary reason behind choosing law firm management consulting and strategic planning as a career option, instead of traditional fields like IDT or Corporate Law.
- Niche area: I was of the view that doing something extremely niche and specialized, which not many had heard of, would help me test my mettle.
- First experience to work with Founders: I knew I would get the chance to work with the Founders, Managing Partners and Visionaries at a more macro level in building organisations and institutionalising their practices.
- Helping law firms and legal practitioners build synergies in the form of mergers, acquisitions, referrals and tie-ups was a trend largely initiated by Legal League Consulting (LLC).
- I was aware that I would get the opportunity to help several established, as well as start-up law firms, in devising hybrid and globally accepted Equity & Partnership Structures. Therefore, the fact that we could add value at any stage of growth of an organisation and the ‘niche’ factor associated with the field, were the decisive factors behind choosing something completely non-traditional and ‘one of its kind’.
“What opportunities do CAs have outside the traditional roles?"
Gone are those days when CAs were restricting themselves to auditing, taxation, joining the industry (as finance managers),' or taking up a job in one of the Big 4s.
Chartered Accountants are today seen as 'complete business solutions'. Here are a few options:
- Management Consulting for the legal profession: My own field of management consulting is unconventional.
- Today, several CAs are practicing management consulting roles in areas like project financing, mergers and acquisitions. Many of my friends have ventured into innovative fields like tech start-ups, wherein they provide technology-related solutions for finance professionals.
- Writing and publishing books is now a full-time option, where qualified CAs are playing the role of authors.
- Teaching and training are fields that have come up in a big way as there is a large section of qualified CAs that has devoted itself to training future torch-bearers of the profession.
- To add to this, CAs are also venturing into allied fields like Investment Banking, Insurance, Actuarial Valuation, Forensics Audit and Stock Markets
Our Universe is abundant and there is plenty for everyone.
All of us are forces full of positive energy and when you truly believe, things will manifest just the way you desire them to be.
Self-confidence and belief in the power of your ‘intention’ will always keep you going.
I knew whichever field I work in and whichever organisation I choose - I have to play a role that would help others in achieving their ‘purpose’.
I knew I did not want to be another cog in the wheel, but the force that propels the wheel forward...therefore, don’t go by what others tell you!
People will keep giving you unsolicited advice, but remember, what worked for them may or may not work for you. Do your own hit and trial, have your own learnings and chalk your own path.
If you feel a strong passion and sense of purpose about something, choose it by all means!
Nipun Bhatia is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Lawyer with more than a decade of experience helping Law firms in Strategic Management & Process Redesigning.
He is also an IP-enthusiast and has experience of working with an IPR firm in the formative years of his career has enabled me to assist several top-notch boutique-IPR firms of the country.
In a short span, he has worked with close to 400 legal client organisations, helping them scale their operations, professionalise their business support functions, explore strategic alliances, designed their equity/partnership structures, and most importantly help them build a brand.
Now It's Your Turn...
Were you inspired by Nipun Bhatia's journey?
Have questions for Nipun, comment below and he will get back.
(Image edited by Ankit Lodhi)