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October 22, 2007

How Solos Can Grab A Piece of "Chindia" - Guest Blogger, Paramjit Mahli

At a recent conference I met a stunningly intelligent and thoughtful woman named Paramjit Mahli of Sun Communications Group, native to India, reared in England and now a resident of New York, who works with all sized law firms across the country and abroad to help them publicize their services through intelligent media exposure, management of public relations crises, and strategic public relations to expand their legal services business.  Given she did this while employed at CNN, is a journalist, a talented speaker and writer of countless articles on the subject,  I'm thrilled she's sharing her thoughts on my blog.

And she has agreed to guest post on three seperate topics beneficial to my readership, solos and small firms.  Why am I having her talk about getting a piece of the pie in India?  Because if you follow the U.S. and world economy at all, you know China in part, but India primarily ("Chindia") is a growing economy that is looking westward for expansion flush with money and a young population ready to spend.

So, without further ado, I give you Paramjit Mahli:


First of all, I’d like to start by thanking Susan for inviting me to do a series of guest blog posts. I’m delighted to write them and welcome feedback from her readers.

I plan on doing three posts. The first will focus upon what law firms, regardless of size need to do in order to do business with India. Recently, there has been fair degree of press coverage on both sides of the Atlantic regarding India’s booming economy and the opportunities that are opening up for law firms.

The second post will focus on how and why solo’s and small law firms should build relationships with local press and how this will increase their bottomline. Finally, the third post will focus on crisis communications. Specifically, what plans to have in place and how to work effectively with the press when they albeit, uninvited are knocking on your door!  And it doesn't have to be a large lawfirm like Nixon Peabody.  It can be the solo who takes on a high profile criminal matter pro bono who needs to have plans for the press in place to protect their client and their own reputation.

Last Thursday I attended a panel organized by the South Asian Bar Association of New York, hosted at the offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

The meeting, “Developing A South Asia Practice” included a well-rounded group of panelists: Satya S. Hegde, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of Tata Consultancy Services; Poojitha Rao, Special Counsel, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP; Rahoul Roy, Brown Rudnick; and Lata Setty, SVP Intellectual Property & Patent Litigation at Pangea3. All have a remarkable degree of experience in both the US and Indian market.

The first part of the session focused on the panelists’ own experience and changes they have witnessed over the last decade. Outsourcing was the hot topic subject of the second portion.

The audience, a mix of attorneys of South East Asian descent and others, at times seemed stunned at the breakneck speed at which developments are occurring in the Indian legal industry and economy.

Just to put this into perspective, a recent article in American Lawyer Media, ‘Spending Spree’ by John Bringardner, cited India flush with cash from outsourcing and venture capital deals with Silicon Valley. India, he indicated, is on a bit of a shopping spree:

  1. Outbound Indian deals topped 26 billion up from 8.08 billion in 2006.

  2. Recent deals include Tata Steel Limited acquisition of Britain’s Corus Group plc for $13.4 billion.

  3. Tata Motors Limited and Mahindra & Mahindra are currently mulling over competing bids for Jaguar Cars Limited and Land Rover, currently owned by Ford Motor Company. 

When the panel was asked the question of how to build your book of business with India, the answer shouldn't have stunned me but it did, nonetheless. The answer was as old and universal as one can expect. It transcends language, time and culture and when distilled to its essence: people do business with whom, they like, know and trust. One of the panelists put it quite succinctly: networking is shared communities and experience and one that involves contact, to build familiarity and comfort.

Below are some specific tips from the panelists:

  1. Do an inventory of where your strengths lie. Don’t just assume that there is only technology-related work in India. Do your due diligence.

  2. Build reciprocal relationships with law firms in India.

  3. Find out who the players of outsourcing are in the United States.

  4. Start attending trade groups such as the TIE The Indus Entrepreneur and the USIndian Business Council (http://www.usibc.com).

In conclusion, it just doesn’t really matter what area of law you practice. Right now, India is flush with money and is on a global shopping spree. And with any rapid growth and prosperity a host of opportunities arise, such as immigration, real estate investments, entrepreneurship, such as forming subsidiaries, etc.

My advice: Find out if there is a local Indian consulate in your area and start attending their events and see if you can become actively involved. A note of caution, not always possible with consulates BUT they will be able to steer you to other South East Asian associations and contacts in the region. Don’t forget the obvious: the yellow pages and internet.

Until next week.



Bio: Throughout her professional career both as a journalist and a public relation professional Paramjit understands the importance of perception. Bottom-line  perception is reality. Many attorneys, practice groups and boutique law firms  have a superior level of expertise and/or a better track record of helping clients, locally nationally and globally solve their problems, but if they are not as well known as their competitors then they are probably not considered as  good as their competitors.
A strategically guided public relations campaign is an extremely cost effective way of leveraging your success and credibly touting  achievements in your target market.  A good strategic plan also entails having contingency crisis communication media plans in place. For example, when you have very high profile client or a case of national or international importance  getting your message across to the right target audiences will be paramount importance.

For more about Paramjit visit: Sun Communcations Group Paramjit Mahli Biography.

For more information on services offered go to Sun Communications Group Services

To view some of the press coverage Sun Comunications Group has gotten for clients visit: Sun Communications Group Resources


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