Kamala Naganand – Transforming the Legal Industry for Better Tomorrow

Aarna Law Kamala Naganand

Aarna Law is a boutique practice, specializing in complex cross-border disputes and transactions. Though they are relatively young as a practice, their law practice legacy spans nearly a century which has taught them the importance of Excellence, Responsibility, Integrity, and Service to the Courts, clients, profession, and the broader ecosystem.

In an interview with Ms. Kamala Naganand, let’s discover the journey of Aarna Law since its inception and their offerings

What were the initial challenges you faced? 

We started out in a single room, at our ancestral home in Bangalore and have now grown as a boutique counsel-led law practice with offices in Bangalore, Mumbai, and New Delhi. Finding the right people who believe in the same value systems as us and who want to grow with us organically has been one of the major challenges. Having said that, we have a great set of people working with us, all of whom have helped Aarna Law find its path and grow.

Which was that point that triggered the growth of Aarna Law?

We have always believed our practice will be a boutique and a collection of niche practices and we have not been in a rush to expand taking it slow and steady. It’s been a gradual and organic growth for us with new and diverse practice areas being added in, all of which have challenged and inspired us. Doing the work we enjoy, has always been a motivating factor.

How have Aarna Law graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?

What started in a single room with just Shreyas and me, has now grown to over 50 people (lawyers and non-lawyers) spanning 3 offices. Opening the New Delhi and Mumbai offices have been one of the most challenging and exciting things that we have done. We aim to be an India-based international practice. Beyond India, I aim to act as Mediator for international disputes at Aarna ADR, Maxell Chamber Suites, Singapore.

The people we work with, the quality of advice we give and our main focus, which is our client-centric problem-solving.

The Success Mantra

What are the services Aarna Law focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?

The focus of Aarna Law has always been on the client and what value we add to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients. India is a very price-sensitive market, so ensuring that the client feels like they are getting value for the services, that we are providing them with, is of utmost importance to us.

How do you decide to take Aarna Law a step further in terms of your services?

We are deploying technological resources across all our offices to enhance service capabilities and to swiftly respond to the changing needs of clients.

Is there any new addition to the list of services? Anything exciting you would like to share?

We currently offer services in Litigation, Corporate Crisis Advisory, Pro Bono Publico, Mediation, Investment Arbitration, Commercial Arbitration, Intellectual Property, Real Estate Advisory, Mergers and Acquisitions, Maritime Law, Insolvency and Bankruptcy, Air and Space Law, Technology Law, Nuclear Law. Securities Law, Public Law, Fraud Investigation & Regulatory Investigation, Anti-Bribery & Anti-Corruption, Asset Tracing Recovery, and Enforcement, Corporate Advisory across various industries.

How have you seen diversity change over the years in the legal sector?

When I started my career in a traditional litigating firm, I was one of 2 other women in litigation in Aarna Law. This is why, when we started Aarna Law, we were very clear that we wanted to be an equal opportunity firm and we ended up with 90% women on the team. We have also proudly provided six months paid maternity leave and an additional six months without pay maternity leave and we offer paternity leave, striving to make the legal service industry more welcoming and accepting of diversity.

Can you please brief us about your professional experience?

I read law at University law college, Bangalore, and started out in a traditional litigating practice Sundaraswamy, Ramdas, and Anandin Bangalore, after finishing my LLM in Intellectual property law from George Washington University. I then took a 6-year break to have my 3 kids and started Aarna law in 2013 with Shreyas Jayasimha. I trained as a mediator in 2017 and have since enjoyed the process of helping resolve disputes.

What are the key achievements of your journey in the law and litigation sector?

 I realized quite early in my career that I didn’t really enjoy the adversarial approach to dispute resolution, because it does not really help either party get closure. With 90% of Indian businesses being family-run, I noticed a trend where it was always something else that needed to be resolved when people come to litigate. It was this search for an alternative, which led me to Mediation as a way of dispute resolution, which is much more effective in my opinion.

Its kinder, gentler, and finally helps resolve, but at the same time keeps familial and business interests at the forefront. I feel the biggest achievements in my career have been all the mediations that have successfully provided solutions to businesses and families and not torn them apart but brought them closer together. I have also enjoyed working with startups and building brands and growing new businesses in this competitive environment.

How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?

I can proudly say that we have been at the forefront of bringing women back to work. In India, where options in terms of child care are so limited and are mainly reliant on family, we made work from home a part of Aarna Law’s environment. We hire women who have taken a break in their careers and are looking for an opportunity to be part of the workforce again. We have infrastructure built in to facilitate this and therefore, remote working was something everyone in Aarna Law moved to very easily, even during the current COVID crisis. We also believe in investing in our people and have put in place, training programs to help develop leadership within the organization.

I am not part of any race. I only hope to be a better lawyer and a human being every day.

Is there any special experience with your clients you would like to highlight?

I would like to share a quote from a client whom I will not name “Your team and your partner, have been the very best blend of professionalism and humaneness. In the long run, it is these 2 aspects that will pay a rich dividend to not only your profession but personal lives.”

For me, this is the best compliment that I can get. We cannot forget that people come to us when they are in great trouble and anguish and my main priority is to deal with the issues humanely and reduce the impact that it is having on their lives and help make a difference to them.

According to you what next-generation women advocates and litigators should focus on?

The things people should focus on are:

Quality: providing the best possible outcome for the client, Working ethically, and Being an agent of change

One person, who you admire the most?

My grandfather Late Mr.S.G.Sundarswamy who is looked upon as a doyen of the Bar and whose standards of ethics and service are still spoken about by people even to this today.

Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?

The Bill and Melinda gates foundation has made such a huge impact on humanity. I find their story of selfless giving of themselves, their time, and creating opportunities extremely inspiring.

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