Bithika’s close to three decades of experience in the business and professional consulting domain. She is the Founder and CEO of Legal League Consulting – India’s first management consulting company for the global legal industry. She brings a highly experienced and practical solution oriented approach in identifying priorities, driving initiatives and crafting implementation plans for business performance and growth for law firms and legal departments.

As part of the core management team of her clients, Bithika works closely with Managing and Senior Partners as well as General Counsels and Legal Heads, advising them on various strategic, financial and growth initiatives.

She is a Principal with EDGE International, advising on India specific growth and business initiatives. She is also an Honorary Consultant to the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF), where she works with the organisation and its members advising and assisting   in complying with best industry practices.

Before founding Legal League Consulting, she played an instrumental role in assisting Amarchand Mangaldas & Suresh a Shroff & Co., Delhi- India’s premier law firm, to grow from strength to strength. During her 11 year stint at the firm — first as the Chief Financial Officer, then in a dual role as both the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Operating Officer—the firm grew from a lawyer strength of 25 to 200 plus in Delhi to become one of the largest law firms in India. Bithika was an integral part of the firm’s core management, working closely with the Managing Partner on various strategic, financial and growth initiatives. It is under her stewardship that the firm implemented modern management processes, compliant with the best practices in the world.

Prior to this, she worked at S.B. Billimoria & Co. and KPMG, both leading accountancy firms, for over 10 years. At S.B. Billimoria & Co., she conducted a variety of internal and statutory audits for major national & trans-national companies; formulating strategic business plans, expansion plans and India entry strategies.

A chartered accountant by profession, she also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in the Management of Legal Practice from Nottingham Trent University.

Bithika has successfully worked with more than 100 client organizations – law firms and legal departments of varying sizes, supporting areas such as:

Growth Strategy

  • Business Planning
  • Business Development Planning
  • Creating internal efficiencies among other activities.

 Strategic Alliance

  • Business intelligence
  • Outsourcing advisory
  • Mergers, acquisitions and alliances of Law Firms, LPOs and Legal Practitioners among other activities.

Partner Coaching & Alignment

  • Creating Thought-leaders within the organization
  • Partner practice planning.
  • Aligning partner goals with the firm’s vision among other activities.

Performance Evaluation & Enhancement

  • Productivity analysis
  • Appraisal systems for all levels of attorneys.
  • Performance enhancement programmes and training among other activities.

 Market Positioning

  • Creating a positive presence within the Legal Industry.
  • Creating reach strategies for attracting prospective clients.
  • Assistance in brand identity and guideline creation among other activities.

Case Study #1

Client Details

  • Currently the Firm has 1 Managing Partner, 1 Senior Partner, 4 Salaried Partners and around 50 lawyers.
  • Location: New Delhi (2 offices)

CHALLENGES

The following challenges were noted by the team at Legal League Consulting (LLC) through the numerous interactions with the Partners and lawyers and the firm as well as the questionnaire prepared for this purpose:

[I] HR issues

  1. There was no hierarchy existing in terms of designations. Lawyers at all levels were called “Associates”.
  2. There was no visionary exercise carried out by the Partners to ascertain the future growth of the Firm in terms of financial target, adding of new Practice areas and deepening of Litigation Practice etc.
  3. The firm had an adhoc manner of performance evaluation for awarding incentives at the Firm.
  4. Time Sheets were not being effectively maintained by the Firm to monitor the time spent by people, thus there was no optimum utilization of the resources.
  5. There was no Manpower planning and the number of people hired did not commensurate with the amount of work in the Team.
  6. There was no policy for Interns and at a time there were 5-6 interns having very less or no work at all.

[II] Marketing & Branding

  1. The firm did not have a structured Marketing and Branding strategy which involved Media Management and Placement, Captive Audience Management, Client Relationship Management, Co-branded events, Self promoted events etc.
  2. The firm did not project itself or its lawyers. There was no/minimal participation in seminars, conferences and other speaking events. Even if the Partners/Associates participated in such events, the same was not being projected in their profiles or elsewhere.
  3. The firm did not use its own domain for the purpose of E-mail communication and Personal E-mail ids were used for communication with the clients and outside counsels.

[III] Business Development/ Practice Development

  1. Apart from its Criminal Practice, the firm does not have specialist practice areas, a majority of the Lawyers at the firm were generalists.
  2. The Corporate Practice of the firm was almost/completely neglected.
  3. Cross-selling was lacking at the Firm and Partners wanted to build their own individual practice rather than the firm’s.

[IV] Finance

  1. Salaries to lawyers at the firm were not being given on time and the firm faced major cash flow issues.
  2. There were huge outstanding amounts to be recovered by the clients as well as discrepancies in the outstanding amounts as per the records of the Accounts Section and the respective Partners.
  3. There were no pre-defined targets set for the Firm or Team.
  4. There was no correspondence with clients with respect to issues like TDS Certificates, Payment Receipt Confirmations and any issues with respect to Billing.
  5. The Firm did not maintain its Accounts Payables in any electronic or physical files. The bills of vendors and counsels used to be kept stacked in a box and payment made on an ad hoc basis.
  6. There were huge Statutory Dues that were pending to be paid on account of Tax Deducted at Source and Service Tax.

Solutions Offered

[I] HR issues

  1. LLC introduced designations for lawyers at various levels.
  2. Visionary exercise with the Partners were carried on for ascertaining the future growth of the Firm in terms of financial team and firm targets, adding of new Practice areas, deepening of existing area etc.
  3. Performance Enhancement Programme was introduced at the firm. Consequently the following processes were streamlined:
    1. Performance Evaluation of lawyers at the Firm through introduction of Appraisal Process
    2. Defined career path as per the lawyer’s competency and years of experience
    3. Incentives based on financial targets achieved and competencies exhibited by the lawyer
    4. The firm had an adhoc manner of performance evaluation for awarding incentives at the Firm.
  4. Time Sheets have been introduced at the Firm to monitor the time spent by people, so as to ensure there is optimum utilization of the resources.
  5. There was no Manpower planning and the number of people hired did not commensurate with the amount of work in the Team.
  6. Various policies for managing the human resources at the Firm was introduced such as the Internship Policy, Leave Policy etc.

[II] Marketing & Branding

  1. LLC revised the Firm Profile of the firm, so as to project and reposition them as branching out into other practice areas such as Corporate Advisory and Transactional from a niche boutique litigation firm.
  2. Our in-house marketing & branding team have efficiently guided and given opinions on various queries regarding listings, surveys, rankings etc.
  3. Firm Profile was revisited and designed to give a comprehensive idea on the Scope of Services handled by the Firm, The Partners’ Profiles, Testimonials and highlights of the Key High Profile Matters handled by the Firm during more than 25 years of Firm’s existence.
  4. E-mail ids for all Associates and Staff Members were created with the Firm’s Domain Name, giving it the look and feel of professional communication.

[III] Business Development/ Practice Development

  1. LLC emphasized the importance of being specialist rather than generalists and promoted the culture of specialization in the Firm such as Criminal Law, NCDRC, TDSAT etc.
  2. LLC encouraged the expansion of the Corporate Practice at the firm.
  3. Cross-selling was lacking at the Firm and Partners wanted to build their own individual practice rather than the firm’s. LLC introduced Cross Selling Policy at the Firm wherein Partners were given cross selling credits for referring matters to specialized teams.

[IV] Finance

  1. Automation of record keeping using Tally software was promoted at the Firm.
  2. Our specialist in Finance helped streamline the entire cash flow system at the Firm. Consequently, the lawyers received salaries on time. The outstanding from clients were recovered efficiently.
  3. Targets are now set for the Firm or as well as the various Teams at the Firm so as to encourage and motivate the lawyers to perform better and achieve higher increments.
  4. Communication with Clients was regularised with the help of our specialist communicating with the clients through a designated e-mail id created for the purpose. Clients started discussing issues related to taxation, billings, discounts, payments etc. through e-mails, generating greater transparency for the firm’s finances and accounting.
  5. A system of streamlining Payables was introduced as per which the Bills were entered electronically and were paid as per due dates, rather than ad-hoc bulk payments.
  6. Pursuant to improved cash flows due to aggressive recovery of the Accounts Receivables and shortening of the recovery cycle, the Statutory Dues were cleared in a phased manner.

Case Study #2

Client Details

  • Currently the Firm has 1 Managing Partner, 5 Equity Partner (including the managing Partner) and 5 Non-Equity Partner
  • The Firm has around 45 lawyers
  • Location: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore (through Counsel), Kolkata (through Counsel)

CHALLENGES

The Firm sought assistance for restructuring their Partnership structure, both equity and non- equity in order to remove the ambiguities that may arise due to the absence of a defined structure and to formalize the system.

  1. There was no reserve created for meeting the working capital requirements of the firm and future capital expenditure.
  2. There was no predictable structure for progression towards Partnership at the firm. Career progression, promotion track, promotion criteria, appraisal processes etc. were not documented and evaluation was based more on partner perception.
  3. There was a lack of adequate synergies in the firm in terms of cross-selling. It was noted that there was a clear opportunity to increase the synergies at play in the firm.
  4. The profile of the Partners was that of “generalists and this had to be changed to them being “specialists”.
  5. There was a need to bring in transparencies in the various essential aspects of the firm such as Expenses etc.
  6. The firm till date had not set any financial targets for either the firm or for individual teams.
  7. The compensation was not aligned as per the Firm growth.

Solutions Offered

  1. LLC presented the Firm with different Partnership Structures prevailing in Indian and Global law firms and thereafter conducted one-on-one meetings with all partners to understand their views on the Partnership Structure & Governance Model.
  2. A new and robust Partnership Structure was devised by LLC to stand the test of time.
  3. It consists of a Minimum Guarantee and a Variable Incentive with an additional share from the net profits for the Equity Partners.
  4. The structure is incentive driven where the variable incentive will be based on the performance evaluation system, supported by appraisal forms.
  5. All Partners (with their teams) were given targets to achieve in order to be eligible for variable incentive.
  6. Targets were set for the Partner and his team at the beginning of financial year and LLC conducted Monthly meetings with the Partners to apprise them on the billing & recoveries done by the Partners till date as well push them in achieving their shortfall.
  7. In addition, Quarterly Equity Partners meeting are being conducted to discuss the same amongst other things.
  8. The new structure also aimed at developing synergies in terms of cross-selling for the benefit of the firm.
  9. The following committees were formed and the rights, roles and responsibilities of the members (Partners) were defined:
    1. Equity Partner’s Committee
    2. Executive/ Management Committee and
    3. Full Partnership Committee
  10. After devising the Partnership Structure, LLC helped the Firm in drawing an elaborate Strategic Plan and Business Plan for the Firm as well as the Partners outlining the specific actions to be carried out and the time frame for the actions.
  11. The concept of Partners MIS was introduced wherein Partners are now to record the following aspects:
    1. Clients (New and Old) met during the month
    2. New client(s) introduced in the Firm
    3. New matter(s) introduced from existing clients
    4. Monitoring of Billing & Recoveries vis-a-viz target achieved on monthly basis
    5. Human Resource utilization and requirements.
    6. Business Development/ Knowledge initiatives to be taken during the month along with its Budget
    7. Cross-selling between partners
  12. In addition, LLC also assisted the Firm in Practice Planning by sorting the Firms client list, optimizing their team size etc.
  13. Regular monthly meetings are being conducted on an on-going basis to map the performance of the partners and their teams by analyzing and helping the team achieve their financial targets, analyzing the productivity of the team members and suggesting ways to improve the same.

2013

  • China International Lawyer Marketing & Technology Summit 2013, Shanghai
    Presentation on Law Firm Strategy & Management
  • Society of Indian Law Firms Retreat, Dubai
    Presentation on ‘Law Firm Management & Importance of Networking for Lawyers’

2012

  • Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Conference, Washington, USA
    Speaking Assignment on ‘Circum-navigating the Globe: Achieving Smart & Profitable Growth beyond your borders’
  • UK – India Legal Practice Conference, London
    Speaking Assignment on ‘Indian Law Firms and Future Trends’
  • Panel Discussion organized by Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), New Delhi
    Moderated the panel discussion on the topic “Women Entrepreneurs: What does the future hold?”
  • 22nd Annual Meeting & Conference of the Inter- Pacific Bar Association, New Delhi
    Speaking Assignment.

2011

  • EDGE International Roundtable Conference, London
    Presented at the conference along with Nick Jarrett-Kerr and Chris Bull at the Osborne Clarke office.
  • Society of Women Lawyers (SOWL) Conference, New Delhi
    Speaking Assignment.
  • Lex Witness Legal Knowledge Management Conference, Mumbai
    Speaking Assignment.
  • LLC’S Management Workshop For Law Firms, New Delhi
    Conducted workshop for law firms on “Creating Sustainability and enhancing profitability through Business Development”.
  • 7th Annual ITechLaw Asian Conference, Bangalore
    Speaking Assignment.

2010

  • INTERLAW Annual Global Meeting, New Delhi
    Speaker at the Interlaw Annual Global Meeting, 2010. Interlaw is an International Association of Independent Law Firms.
  • 23rd Law Asia Conference, New Delhi
    Speaking Assignment.
  • Legal Knowledge Management Conference, Mumbai
    Speaking Assignement.
  • Dancing
  • Listening to Classical Music
  • Table Tennis
  • Politics