Remfry & Sagar
"The ever-changing legal world has a mind of its own"
Remfry has recently expanded, in terms of both workforce and geography. What insight can you share about how to successfully manage law firm growth?
In my opinion, growth is best when it is paced and well planned. When considering expansion, firms should factor in the market challenges and keep an eye out for solutions to issues that may arise at unexpected times. Human resources should play a significant role and at no point must quality or standards be ignored.
Remfry is a merit-driven institution that tries to create an open and supportive work culture. With the lowest attrition rates in the industry (less than 3%), more than a third of our organisation – including 16 of 18 partners – have been with the firm for more than 10 years. This has helped to create stability and provide continuity of service to our clients. Keeping employees motivated at challenging times and coming up with result-driven solutions is key to growth. These factors – together with a slow but steady approach – create an effective management tool.
You have been involved in several industry associations, in India and internationally. Why is such engagement important for law firm practitioners?
Learning and sharing legal knowledge and experience are the most evident rewards of industry associations. Knowledge gained through such forums often helps you to anticipate what the future may hold. You can identify the best practices that are being adopted and share experiences to hone legal skills. The social gatherings also put you in touch with like-minded people.
How are client demands changing, and what effect has this had on your practice?
Providing quality and business-centric advice to clients has always been essential. What has changed now is that, being connected 24/7, clients expect faster turnaround times – so you have to be ready with solutions on short notice. Further, the legal environment today is highly competitive and you must be mindful of the costs at all times.
With a history spanning nearly 200 years, Remfry has the experience and expertise to meet the demands of changing times. Being an agile practice, we have adapted well to change and our attorneys remain the most knowledgeable, with the highest efficiency rating in the industry. We have achieved this through quality recruitment, intensive in-house training and the incorporation of state-of-the-art technology, which promotes efficiency and transparency.
What qualities make an elite-level practitioner in the Indian IP field, and how can these be honed?
Besides the conventional requirements of a strong legal acumen, great communication skills – both oral and written – and intelligence, good practitioners must excel at multitasking. They must be able to don multiple hats: a legal hat to provide the best legal advice; a business hat to understand the contextual relevance; and a creative hat to think outside the box and come up with inventive solutions to problems. The ever-changing legal world has a mind of its own and not all outcomes can be predicted. You must know how to face challenges and turn them into opportunities for growth. Thus, a balanced approach is vital!
Finally, what do you think are the big trends that will affect IP professionals and owners in India over the next few years?
India offers a robust IP regime, which is now supported by the government’s effort to improve the administration and functioning at the IP office. The complete digitisation of records and a push towards electronic communication has been successfully implemented. Employment has been at an all-time high and the backlog has been cleared to a large extent. The Make in India, Digital India and Start-up India schemes, subsidised fees for start-ups to protect their intellectual property and an overall desire for IP advancement are changing things for the better. Judicial trends are also progressing towards the faster resolution of matters, coupled with punitive consequences for infringement. I expect that the government will continue to build on this foundation and make India one of the best places to obtain and protect intellectual property in the world.
The stage is set to handle the evolving IP challenges in the coming years. AI, the Internet of Things and blockchain are becoming increasingly popular, but questions remain as to how we can protect and enforce rights. Licensing – and therefore licensing disputes – will likely increase as India’s population becomes the growth market for many companies across the world. Traditional forms of intellectual property will change, and we need to embrace this change with an open mind.
Managing Partner[email protected]
Ashwin Julka is managing partner at Remfry & Sagar, one of India’s oldest and largest IP firms. He leads a team of 275 employees, including 115 attorneys, and has a bachelor’s in economics and law. His expertise ranges across the full spectrum of intellectual property, particularly trademark law and patent policy. He is involved in various IP organisations and is well known in the global IP circuit.