Tuesday 25 March 2014

2Inspire Business Profile: Janvi Patel, Co-Founder of Halebury

Who says that Law has to be one dimensional? Janvi Patel certainly doesn't think so, establishing an alternative law firm which strives to give clients more from law with a flexible working model that is pioneering a refreshing way to do Law. A working mother of 3, who commutes between LA and London on a regular basis, Janvi proves that nothing is impossible. 

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

In just seven years and with no external funding, I co-built Halebury, an alternative law firm, to a seven figure turnover, team of nineteen lawyers and six staff with clients such as BSkyB, BT, Ericsson and Expedia.  Recently on BBC R4’s Today programme, Halebury was introduced as “the ultimate flexible working model” – an amazing achievement in such a traditional industry.

I also “manage” three children (aged 5 and under) and I have recently relocated to LA where I live during term time. I commute to London every 4/6 weeks and in LA work four days a week.  Although no two days are the same, my day starts around 4am for calls to London, stops around 8.15am for the school run, which usually involves a school fund raising or class parent meeting, then back to work until 2pm.  I try to fit in a work out before the kids come home when it is time for their activities.  It’s flexible working taken to the extreme. 

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
After many years of working in the City (Charles Russell solicitors) and in industry (Nortel Networks), I decided to launch my own business.  With an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit I started to consider ways of improving the legal service provided by private practice to clients.  I believed the service I received, and as is often received by clients, whilst legally accurate was not truly commercial or hands on and it was expensive.  The legal industry needed a change and therefore set out to revolutionise the legal market.  This was 2007 and the Legal Services Act was still many years away and not many legal service providers were thinking about fundamental change.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
The amazing team we have grown, the incredible work they do, but overall we are making real waves and changing lives within a traditional industry – for clients and for the lawyers. 
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Firstly, we had to convince insurance companies that a truly alternative structure was possible. In terms of the legal sector itself, the main challenges were persuading lawyers, who are often risk averse by nature, to join a new entity with no guaranteed salary or support from an in-house team, to make the step away from a tried and tested but unsatisfying model to try something new.  Finally, we had to persuade in-house legal teams that there was a viable option outside of traditional magic circle firms on their panels, where they can access the best lawyers but at affordable rates.

What are your future plans for the business?
Halebury unveiled plans in July 2012 to double in size over the next 18 months to a team of 30 lawyers and its turnover.  Halebury is also looking to expand into alternative sectors and services, such as banking and litigation, all with an alternative spin.  Halebury plans to position itself as the genuine alternative law firm of choice for in-house teams.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
 I was ‘late’ to the social media table.  The marketing benefits of social media, especially for working mothers is huge, as it is hard to attend networking events in the evening and to effectively market in the traditional way but with social media it is possible reach a huge market not only on a personal level but professional as well.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
 All young people need inspiration to follow their dreams.  Young women have a harder time to manage career goals and their family dreams and aspirations.  Young women need female role models not just to show them that they can achieve their dreams but how they can logistically have it all. 

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
I have two pieces of advice for anyone who wants to start a business.  First is just to start.  Sometimes we get
stuck on planning and logistics which will often work itself out.  Secondly, make sure you surround yourself with a team that you can trust and are smart, even if their previous experience is not perfect for the role.  Smart people will be able to work it out and people you trust will have your back.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
Indra Nooyi – the Chairwomen and CEO of PepsiCo.  Her journey is inspirational.  She has had an amazing career.  Her rise has been extraordinary and what she has accomplished at PepsiCo incredible, but has also managed to balance her career with her family.

What is your favourite inspirational quote? 

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  It is what difference we have made to the live of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead” Nelson Mandela

Contact Details
+44 (0) 207 127 2500 

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