For years, the Indian legal profession, particularly litigation has been dominated by men, and most of the new law firms that rose in the nineties were headed by men. Some of the firms that have struggled the most to increase diversity at the top have also been making strides recently to address the deeper issues.
Despite the increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion within the legal field over the past decade or so, the legal profession remains one of the least diverse of any profession. I hope, this will change shortly because women leaders in different sectors including the legal profession have proved their mettle time and again through their work and leadership qualities.
Ms Anita Dugar is one of such women influential lawyers, who made her unique position in the law landscape by providing quality and determined law services through the firm Samisti Legal.
The Firm– Samisti Legal
Samisti Legal is an emerging Corporate and Commercial Law firm based out of Hyderabad, Telangana. Samisti Legal was founded in Jan 2015 by Raghu Babu Gunturu and Prashant Jain to provide a comprehensive range of Legal and Compliance services with high professional standards. Prashant heads Samisti Legal. The team consists of interdisciplinary professionals like advocates and company secretaries who together leverage their knowledge, expertise, and experience in providing quality legal services.
Raghu brings in strategic direction to the firm, mentors the team, challenges the status quo to better what they do constantly, introduces new practice areas, etc. Ms. Anita had joined the firm almost since its inception and has been leading the execution team since then. Samisti Legal presently has a rich client base of well-established companies, institutionally funded emerging businesses and has also been servicing start-ups and incubators.
Wining over the Initial Hurdles
Samisti Legal was founded as a mid-segment law firm and to survive in that space was no simple task. They had to pave their way amongst the top law firms and the small individual players. The biggest challenge for them was to create their visibility in the market for which they did a lot of effort.
The firm explored tie-ups with International firms, engaged in thought leadership by writing articles on their practice areas, hosted insightful seminars for founders on legal topics, undertook speaking opportunities, and accepted diverse nature of assignments even if it called for a lot of studies and learning on their part. They also initially found it a challenge to convince the corporates on pricing as they were very sensitive about it irrespective of the quality of work that they offered.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.Nelson Mandela
An initial couple of years being tough, were more towards laying a foundation, while there was an exponential growth during the subsequent years due to the good work recognized by clients and spread by word of mouth to others. The firm now renders its services not only to clients spread all over India but also to international clients engaged in diverse businesses. The firm has a long way to go but they have a clear direction.
Partnering for the growth, together
Quite a few clients in Hyderabad were being serviced by by-laws firms from Mumbai remotely which had its limitation and inaccessibility hence there was a clear gap in the market for mid-segment law firms to come up where corporates could get good professional legal advice. With this background, ‘Samisti’ was formed. Samisti Legal could very well bridge this gap with its quality service offering and that triggered the growth of the firm.
Samisti means United or together, whatever they do, they would like to keep their interest aligned with other stakeholders who could be a client or an employee who are their biggest stakeholders.
The rising graph of growth
The firm has grown multi-fold since its inception in all areas inter alia, headcount, revenue, client mix (domestic/international/sectors) diversification of work, etc., After a humble start, they grew almost 2X on a year on year basis, which was a great boost to their confidence portraying that their efforts were in the right direction. The firm does meet periodically to review its existing performance and to lay the strategic road map for the coming years. While they continue to aim that they achieve their projected numbers, the firm’s priority is to add value to the clients, their employees, and the various stakeholders of their ecosystem.
Factors behind the long-standing growth of Samisti Legal
A few characteristics which set them apart are a hands-on approach, deep involvement with the clients to understand their commercial intent, thereby adding value to the transaction. The firm’s quick turnaround time in delivering the client requirements, rendering quality services, and easy accessibility to the clients have played a very important role in the success of the firm within a relatively shorter period. They also focus on and continue to track and learn about evolving business models, best practices, and global trends in technology, and changes in the legal landscape for business.
Their quality offerings
The firm has been doing decent work in the transaction advisory space specifically about capital raising, Mergers & Acquisitions, Insolvency and Bankruptcy, and General Corporate Advisory matters. Besides firm has been advising clients on business set up in India, corporate law compliance, foreign exchange laws, etc.,
Samisti Legal has never compromised on its service quality and the team believes in giving its best irrespective of the commercial consideration which sets it apart from the others in the market.
As a result, Samisti Legal has established associations with various overseas clients and informal affiliations with overseas law and accounting firms for rendering legal services in the USA, Japan, and Australia. This has helped Samisti Legal garner valuable insight into various legal and commercial needs of overseas clients.
Ms Anita Dugar, A visionary leader in the field of law
Law is a tough profession. It has its particular challenges. To be a woman in that environment is especially demanding. Initially, she had not planned to pursue law as a profession and she finished her Company Secretary course and was working in a listed company as a company secretary but soon it all seemed very monotonous and she wanted to learn about new and various facets of law and this made her switch to a law firm. Fortunately, she landed a job at one of India’s most reputed law firms. It was then that she started studying law and finished her law degree.
Ms. Anita worked with the law firm for 4 years and then shifted to Hyderabad where she joined Samisti Legal. Ever since she has joined, each day in Samisti Legal has been a day full of challenges, opportunities, and lots of learnings. Over the years she has extensively worked on matters relating to corporate and commercial laws, start-up/angel funding, Private Equity Transactions, acquisitions, Joint ventures, mergers, de-mergers, representations in NCLTs for merger matters.
Throughout her professional journey this far, she has received immense support from her family which has helped her to grow in this profession. Samisti Legal has also played a very important role in helping her maintain a work-life balance by providing flexibility in working hours and also giving work from the home facility which was particularly important especially after embracing motherhood.
Working with minimal assistance on complex transactions and receiving appreciation and acknowledgment for the same from the clients has been truly inspiring.
They have been frequently receiving appreciation for their commitment and work from their clients in the form of testimonials that they truly value. These testimonials inspire them to do better.
The happening work environment
Samisti Legal being a professional services firm, very well understand that employees are the biggest assets. The firm takes various initiatives for employee training, provides exposure and improvement opportunities through hands-on experience gives them the autonomy of decision making, and ingrain in them the values of the firm so that they are well equipped to handle work independently in line with the firm’s objectives. The Firm strongly advocates for its employees to maintain work-life balance and gives them flexibility while shouldering the ownership of their work.
About the rat race in the market
Continuous learning on the job while working on the transactions and off the job learning by keeping track of the new developments in the legal landscape, learning about different business structuring models, and being updated on the rapidly changing laws in India.
Samisti, taking a step forward with
Increasingly sophisticated legal technology will become a baseline expectation for clients, with automated due diligence already making an impact on deals. In many cases, the quality and accuracy of AI-powered due diligence could accelerate deal settlement and lead to a better outcome. They would be focusing on and investing more in this. The firm is prepared for radical changes in staffing profiles, recruitment, retention, graduate education, and continuous development.
As the legal sector is now a prime target for potentially disruptive new entrants, often coming from outside the sector. This reality calls for a systematic approach to scan for such potential developments and identify, embrace and pre-empt new entrants through collaboration and competition. Samisti Legal is a boutique firm and they focus currently on transactional work. In the next 5 years, they are aiming to be a full-service law firm with branches in all major cities.