Exclusive: Former Ernst & Young (E&Y) associate director Gajendra Maheshwari and manager Rajat Bose started up tax and disputes boutique Reina Legal on 1 December in Gurgaon, after hiring seven associates including a mix of chartered accountants (CA) and lawyers.
Reina Legal focuses on tax, corporate and commercial litigation, and arbitration.
Bose who left E&Y in November after almost four years with the Big Four consultancy, said: “We’ve noticed that there are not many law firms in India that can provide quality tax advisory and litigation support and not charge exorbitantly. Of late we have seen that clients are having a lot of issue with the kind of fees the Big Four are charging. With the recession they [clients] have become a bit conservative but at the same time are looking for quality.”.
“We are from that market and we understand the level of quality and performance that [clients who instruct the Big Four] expect to get their money’s worth. We are focussing on providing the quality of Big Four at the rates of a mid-sized law firm,” he added.
Maheshwari, who qualified as a CA in 1997 and as a lawyer in 2000, practiced tax consultancy independently from 1997 until 2004, also obtaining an LLM degree in 2004 and joining E&Y the same year. He left E&Y in April intending to start up on his own.
Bose graduated from ILS Pune in 2005 and joined Zeus Associates to assist on indirect tax and corporate commercial matters until 2007. From 2007 until 2009 Bose was with KPMG, also one of the Big Four consulting firms.
Explaining their move, Bose said: “A Big Four consultancy is more in the nature of business consulting where the legal aspect at times is not given so much importance. It is [concerned] more [with] what is the practical approach and is going to help the business in the future.”
“Also, while working in a Big Four there is so much hierarchy [such that] even when you are a partner you are working for someone else,” he added. “There are all kinds of people, some want to move out and do their own practice. That was the primary reason for us, why we moved out.”
Maheshwari and Bose gave Reina – which means “queen” in Spanish – a gestation time of around eight months after Maheshwari left E&Y in April to set up the office, infrastructure and hire associates. They said that three of the associates have around five years of experience each working with bigger law firms in India.
Bose told Legally India that at Reina, Maheshwari would focus on his specialist sectors – telecom, and entertainment and software - and Bose’s target sector was retail and consumer products. Their established clients included residential and commercial real-estate company Ireo, telecom service providers MTS and CMC Telecom, and financial services group Religare, which they have been representing in tax litigation.
“We have plans to expand not only as a law firm but also as tax solutions provider. Eventually to venture into that area is what the long term plan is,” explained Bose. “[As a tax solutions provider we intend to] provide assistance to Indian clients in routine tax and legal work where you do not require much of an intellect. Where it is not that time consuming, they can sort of buy it off-the-shelf.”