Janvi Patel talks to Asian Voice about Flexible Working and changes in the Legal Market
Janvi Patel was named in the UK’s first ever Power Part Time Top 50 list, is a winner of the Enterprising Women of the Year Award 2013, and was nominated for the Asian Woman of the Year Award in 2013. An employment lawyer, Janvi is the Chairwoman and Founder of Halebury. Her role is diverse and includes working on strategy, finances, marketing or recruitment. Under Halebury, Janvi manages a team of four employees and 17 lawyers with her two co-directors.
Janvi and her co-director started Halebury from scratch without any external funding in 2007. It was one of the first alternative legal providers on the market. In just seven years Halebury created a reputation for excellence and innovation. Halebury is a law firm with a difference. It is now a business generating a seven figure turnover, specialising in commercial, corporate and employment law within the technology, media, telecoms and sports sectors. The firm works with clients such as BSkyB, Expedia, Royal Mail and BT. From inception, Halebury was structured to revolutionise the legal sector and was recently awarded “Supplier of the Year – Business Growth” at the Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK) Awards.
The concept is supple: Halebury lawyers work as if they are providing legal advice to their own company – Halebury lawyers should be “Your external in-house lawyer”. Halebury has changed the way that businesses view and buy their legal services and the way that senior lawyers think about their work. The company as shown that law should not be practised and delivered as a standalone discipline but as part of an overall business strategy. Dan Fitz, GC of BT, recently referred to Halebury as an “Entrepreneurial response to a rigid [legal] model that was lucrative for years. These new competitors are tapping well-trained legal talent that otherwise would like fallow and making it available to clients at highly attractive rates.”
Janvi regularly gives talks about how the legal market and working life have changed and how businesses should look at new operating models. “Most FTSE 100 companies were set up before the internet and the cloud: remote working would have been crazy 20 years ago but now it is possible to effectively manage a team working remotely. However, it is not all about flexible working, it is about looking at what works best for each industry; the team and the clients and then creating a way forward. For a service industry like ours, flexibility is the key to an efficient operation.”
Janvi’s career and life are diverse. Aside from Halebury, she is a supporter of entrepreneurial businesses, leading her to becoming a committee member for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women – Mentoring Programme and involved with MSDUK which assists ethnic minority business enter the supply chain of multinationals.
In addition to managing Halebury, Janvi lives in Los Angeles during term time with her husband (an aerospace engineer/wall street analyst – turned entrepreneur) and three children (all under five). Janvi commutes to London every four weeks for two weeks to ensure business face time, but while in LA she wakes up around three to four am to make contact with London and works until two to three pm. It is flexible working – taken to the extreme. Janvi’s work and day may seem crazy, but as she comments, “Sheryl Sandberg talks about marrying right, but actually for both parents to be able to work effectively for their own business I think it is more than that. Running your own business is more than a 24/7 job, with limited or no maternity leave, holidays or sick leave. We are lucky that we have an amazing family on both sides (and both sides of the Atlantic), incredible business partners and friends. Whether it is making dinner for us, looking after the children or helping me brainstorm business ideas, they all are part of what we achieve, and none of it would be possible without them.”
Janvi’s ambitions for Halebury are clear; she wants her firm to be a game changer in the legal market and a centre of excellence. She is also looking to support the next generation of lawyers, and seems to be on track for achieving this. However, as a workaholic, she sees “spare” time happening only when her children finally go to full-time school. She is already increasing her charitable work, as she offers her time to “School on Wheels.” But Janvi’s next steps are likely to be outside law. She is working on entering the field of early childhood education and would like to set up a school for children under the age of six.
This article was originally published in Asian Voice on 3rd August 2013.