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New AZB Mumbai COO: Ex-NLS-CAM lawyer-manager Eshan Sharma to make ‘very happy working place’ & more

Eshan Sharma joins AZB as COO with wide remit that includes not just happinessEshan Sharma joins AZB as COO with wide remit that includes not just happiness

Legal technology consultant and (Cyril) Amarchand alumnus Eshan Sharma, has joined AZB & Partners on 2 April as its chief operating officer (COO).

Sharma is a 2011 NLSIU Bangalore graduate who had begun his career as a lawyer with erstwhile Amarchand Mangaldas in 2011.

He commented: “From my own experience, lawyers’ requirements are very peculiar in nature when it comes to professional services organisations itself. I knew these pain points when I was a lawyer, and when I made the jump to the entire management side of things, it’s really helpful to understand.

“I could speak their language.”

In 2014, Sharma had moved to Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas’ so-called managing partners office in a strategy and business development role. In November 2016, he had moved to legal consultancy Rainmaker as head of technology and products, while also working as an independent legal technology consultant according to his Linked-in profile.

In a joint phone interview with Mumbai managing partner Zia Mody - who has famously always been more hands-on than most about law firm management - he joked that his role was also “to make Zia’s life happier”.

“No, I don’t care about that,” Mody promptly quipped in return.

So would Sharma’s joining mean that well-known night-owl Mody would not be sending out 3am management-related emails to lawyers anymore? “That’s exactly what we want,” responded Mody: “That Eshan takes charge, that he takes stock, that a system is put in place, that it becomes much more institutionalised, that everything becomes smoother, less aggravating.”

“Knowledge management takes on new meaning, IT support becomes more meaningful and responsive, and BD becomes more strategic,” noted Mody. “Basically, [Sharma is] to be really running the firm in all the areas that need running, other than the lawyering.”

“One of the objectives that Zia set out for me, is to ensure that the best practices are followed at AZB,” Sharma added. “The entire idea is to make a very happy place of working, to ensure that people are not running around, but they should have one point of contact that people should understand them.”

Mody noted that existing business functions would continue supporting fee-earners, such as the head of BD, head of HR, and so on. “What Ishan is looking to do, and what we’re all hoping, is to pull it all together, from one point of view plus of course it is invaluable for us that Eshan is a lawyer at the end of the day, so he understands that the paint points that are there for the lawyers, and pain points for the non-lawyers.”

His initial time would be spent meeting each department, all the practice heads and travelling to other offices, to get “a sense of what’s on the ground, and being thoughtful what’s needs to change, and what needs bolstering in certain areas”, said Mody.

Previously, between 2015 and 2017, AZB had ex-KPMG associate director Prabhanjan Dhotre as its COO. When he left in April 2017, someone else temporarily filled some of the COO functions until now, said Mody.

The big firms have all been taking COO roles seriously in the past years, such as Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas having hired former Mayer Brown JSM Asia COO Jennifer Milford in 2013, for instance.

And as we had reported in February, DSK Legal had hired former Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas director Padmini Rathore, as its chief operating officer (CEO), which can be a similar to COO in a law firm.

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Like +13 Object -6 RCS 10 Apr 18, 20:13  interesting  controversial
Not only are we producing the finest lawyers for a just world, also the finest law firm management professionals. Please note, only for our competition :-)
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Like +0 Object -1 Lala Lal Chand 10 Apr 18, 20:44
You have just made Madam British Airways very unhappy.
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Like +0 Object -5 MP0 11 Apr 18, 18:18
One of the better decisions. The role entails herding cats (aka lawyers!), which no one can perform to perfection. A young, dynamic problem solver is what a law firm COO ought to be, and from within the industry. the COO graveyard is full of 'experienced' outsiders hired at fat salaries and told to scoot later!

good luck Ish.
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Like +0 Object -3 Scooty 10 Apr 18, 21:57
Salary? Will he have a large team befitting a COO’s KRAs?
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Like +11 Object -1 Surprise 11 Apr 18, 00:36  interesting
Keep Zia happy, isn’t that a good enough KRA mate?
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Like +15 Object -2 Insider 10 Apr 18, 23:04  interesting  top rated
[...] Nothing more than a glorified EA. Zia can't give up on operations so easily. All other law firms has COO from industry/law firms with several years of management experience. What is Eshan Sharma's background?

Kian, you might want to do a law firm management professionals survey.
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Like +8 Object -5 Outsider 11 Apr 18, 11:19  controversial
Aren’t most partners also glorified associates & associates glorified paralegals?

Obviously, not applicable for the entrepreneurial & having the own clientele and book of business kinds
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Like +7 Object -1 Pro Zia 11 Apr 18, 11:34  interesting
Zia will NEVER stop micro managing! These COO and CFOs can keep coming and going. It will always be Zia all the way!
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Like +37 Object -0 2011 11 Apr 18, 02:09  interesting  top rated
He is a 2011 graduate and did not focus on management/COO-type stuff until later. How can someone so young be made COO of a firm such as AZB. then everyone asks why cant Indian firms compete with their foreign counterparts. this is (one of the reasons) why.
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Like +4 Object -1 2028 11 Apr 18, 10:18
Well in promoter (Zia) driven firms, only that happens what a promoter wants. It’s always their way or highway. Which is true for most Indian law firms, so if Z wants him, period.

And for the record, even in the next 10–15 years no Indian firm can compete with overseas firms. Whatever they do or say, their mentality is their biggest enemy. This no changing too, ever whether it’s the SCAM’s, LL, AZB etc. But you don’t live forever either ...things will change when you gone mate.
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Like +7 Object -0 Agree 11 Apr 18, 10:21  interesting
When did he do Management or COO type stuff? [...]
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Like +5 Object -1 Meow 11 Apr 18, 11:29
That’s the sales pitch to Zia bro, samjha karo.
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Like +20 Object -1 IMHO 11 Apr 18, 10:35  interesting  top rated
Couldn’t agree more. Making a 2011 graduate as the COO just shows how undervalued the position is in the Indian legal industry. Foreign law firms have CEOs / COOs have 15/20 years of work ex and MBA degrees. It’s very little to do law but more management.

My sense is that he would mostly be a communications person or someone who would just monitor the support teams. Does one really expect the likes of Sai, Ashwath, etc to go by what he says?! ROFLMAO
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Like +5 Object -16 Zaroor 11 Apr 18, 11:08  controversial
I totally agree with 2011. Zia should have hired a COO from a manufacturing company or a real estate corporation or a utility or a transport company or a steel company or an oil refinery. These are the places whose COOs have several years of experience. And as we all know experience trumps industry knowledge. So what if Eshan is the only lawyer with both tech and large law firm management expertise? How different can a law firm be from any other industry really? In fact, I think 2011 here should be made COO. How different can a COO’s job be from LI trolling?
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Like +11 Object -3 Not sure 11 Apr 18, 12:14  interesting
He clearly isn't the only lawyer. But the only "lawyer" with minor lawyerly experience and minor "law firm management" experience. Maybe AZB wanted to train up the COO like A0s. Pretty sure he is an EA and will be doing mostly administrative stuff
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Like +11 Object -1 Really? 11 Apr 18, 12:17  interesting
"...managing partners office in a strategy and business development role". When? says who?
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Like +24 Object -0 Cyril 11 Apr 18, 12:37  interesting  top rated
Zia seems to be having a penchant for my boys!
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Like +9 Object -1 Toys? 11 Apr 18, 13:13  interesting
Others are at least “heavy weights”.
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Like +10 Object -1 ZiaM 11 Apr 18, 15:56  interesting
Yes. Because you train them well Cyril but dont value them.
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Like +10 Object -0 Cyril 11 Apr 18, 17:20  interesting
I also know who to lose! and fast.
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Like +2 Object -3 KCO 11 Apr 18, 18:58
Make it faster so we hire, and make them partners. How is DCM practice?
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Like +5 Object -11 Alias 11 Apr 18, 15:09  controversial
I dont get the hate. Ok if you are skeptical of his abilities or of Zia's decision. But I dont get the hate. Its as good or bad a decision as hiring someone as a lawyer who spends billable hours commenting on legallyindia.
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Like +3 Object -13 Late nights 11 Apr 18, 15:53
Completely agree. I just don’t understand why people have to spew such venom or be so judgmental when giving their opinions.

Congratulations Eshan and best of luck! It seems that now there will be two [E/I]shans keeping the lights on at AZB House till the sun rises.
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Like +13 Object -2 Unhealthy 12 Apr 18, 11:50  interesting
"Keeping the lights on till the Sun rises"

Scientifically this is a bad practise for the health of an individual. The brain requires rest and working till 3 am or full night/ early morning is a bad practise. Corporates, BPOs and Law Firms are following a wrong culture. It is aping the West. If the brain does not get adequate rest and sleep the mind gets cranky. That's why there is so much anger and fights and that's how the society suffers. I heard that in the Concentration Camps of Hitler, the slaves were not allowed to sleep, the intention being to crack them up.

Whoever says that they work till 2 am or 3 am are INEFFICIENT. They are staying late in office because they are greedy for money. They are not actually working but only showing that they are working. How is it even possible that you come to office at 9 am and till 3 am you are making RATIONAL decisions, everyday, 24×7, 365 days? It sets the wrong culture for everyone. Once in a while working late is ok. Employees who may want to go home because they have small kids, or aged parents, or other emergencies of personal nature are shamed by the so called late workers/sitters. I would rather ask the so called late workers/sitters to introspect. Maybe the late workers/sitters families are not very attached to them to want them home every evening but others families are! Anyways I have seen the late sitters only sit back to socialise and maybe hit a pub in the night and next morning they say they sat late till 2am.

It is time to stop glorifying the late workers. Those who genuinely work 24 hours under pressure also need to slow down. Some young lawyers dying is not good sign. Women get menopause at 35 which is also not good. Where are we heading and for what?

Everybody is good in their own place and its not cool to shame those who may not want to stay back till 2am. Maybe those who leave by 6pm or 7 pm are the real geniuses who can finish their work properly!
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Like +3 Object -0 Jealousy Jalan 13 Apr 18, 00:19
It is my observation that when there is shortage of skill, talent, intelligence, or genuininess then the only way to show that you work is by showing that you sit late. In their appraisals they repeat and reiterate and even propogate to their colleagues that they sit late and therefore they deserve promotion.

By the above logic the security guards who do double shift deserve maximum promotions and benefits. And the mosquitoes and flies under tables almost become like Green Card holders, they deserve even more.
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Like +8 Object -1 Alias 11 Apr 18, 17:21  interesting
Are you convinced of his abilities then or Zia's decision? I don't get the love.
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Like +4 Object -1 Happy working place... 11 Apr 18, 15:22
We are happy only when our bonuses and increments are paid on time... What say guys?
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Like +2 Object -1 COO 11 Apr 18, 15:40
Thought taking you guys to Goa was enough cue that your bonus & increments have been paid, in time and in kind ... shut up and do your work now
Reply Report to LI
Like +0 Object -1 Mind Guru 12 Apr 18, 12:29
If you want happiness look beyond bonus and increments.
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Like +1 Object -1 Market Observer 11 Apr 18, 15:43
Kian, how come you never reported Cyril hiring a CMO?
Reply Report to LI
Like +2 Object -1 kianganz 11 Apr 18, 15:47 LI subscriber
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)? I wasn't aware he had... Who?
Reply Report to LI
Like +7 Object -2 Dear Observer 11 Apr 18, 16:10  interesting
CAM has no CMO. A much experienced COO, yes. Check again.
Reply Report to LI
Like +1 Object -3 Okhla 11 Apr 18, 18:28
That’s a blatant lie ! Ask their partners.
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Like +2 Object -3 Okhla 11 Apr 18, 18:26
Anindya Dutta, ex GT & KPMG. Hired earlier this year, he quit in 1 month flat apparently due to [...]. Many things happen, one wouldn’t be aware of it all ...
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Like +7 Object -4 Fanboy 11 Apr 18, 15:55
Zia rocks! She's one of a kind, and there's not a single other managing partner who can hold a candle to her sense of humour and directness.
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Like +17 Object -3 Ziaboy 11 Apr 18, 16:09  interesting  top rated
She now has a boy to hold that candle. All day long.
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Like +5 Object -3 Homie 12 Apr 18, 03:16
This shows the difference between Khaitan & Co and AZB. AZB hires an inexperienced, 2011 graduate. Khaitan hires the head HR of Tata Capital.
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Like +9 Object -1 LOL 12 Apr 18, 10:03  interesting
Who then spends his time sending "thought of the day" emails to everyone!
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Like +5 Object -2 MBA 12 Apr 18, 09:37
I smell sour grapes all the way. None of you seem happy where you are or doing what you're doing. What makes each of you so bitter man? You might want to figure out why you're still doing what you're doing if it makes you so unhappy!

Plus Zia is smart to know she needs young dynamic blood to run the firm & really make a sea change instead of old fossils the likes of which plague most tier 1 law firms.
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Like +0 Object -0 PreCog 12 Apr 18, 12:59
Corporate tags getting into law firms. Should publish about law firm Admins, law firm housekeeping, law firm accounts, law firms IT. Why restrict to COO?
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 12 Apr 18, 13:00 LI subscriber
I agree, despite your sarcasm, many of these are important roles in international law firms, and increasingly becoming so in India too.
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Like +2 Object -0 PreCog 12 Apr 18, 15:45
I forsee a future where just to BE a part of a top law firm people will be willing to work in the pantry also. That happens in other professions and its quite acceptable. It is a feasible idea where first you be a part, then network, butter the bosses, become right hand. The future is ready.
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Like +2 Object -1 kianganz 12 Apr 18, 16:46 LI subscriber
I thought that's what articled clerkship was??

(just kidding, dear budding solicitors... ;)
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Like +2 Object -0 Darkseid 13 Apr 18, 12:34
If you are working in the pantry, aren't you starting off by buttering the bosses (or at least their food)? :D
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Like +0 Object -0 PreCog 12 Apr 18, 17:17
After sometime they wont be at all ashamed to say that we are lawyers starting off as pantry guys. The good thing is no one is ashamed anymore of anything.
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Like +1 Object -0 Might as well 13 Apr 18, 10:12
Have you seen the job market as of late? If a Big 6 put out a call for fresher grads for pantry boy positions, they'd get a hundred CVs a day.
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Like +10 Object -0 Insider 13 Apr 18, 11:11  interesting
Eshan sharma some handy tips -

Learn to fix bulb fuse
Water bonzai plants to perfection
Register in and out time of everyone
Learn to catch rats

Well at least thats what the last COO's job description was!
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Like +1 Object -0 kianganz 13 Apr 18, 11:20 LI subscriber
Before someone complains that we should moderate this comment, it's clearly a joke. It is, right?
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Like +4 Object -0 Insider 13 Apr 18, 14:09
These are some of the things Zia had asked her earlier COO to do, poor guy didnt know what he got himself into, and quit ;)

Young boys are flexible & more adaptable than the older folks, so lage raho Esha bhai. No shame in fixing bulbs ya, if it rakes in the mollah :)
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Like +1 Object -0 kianganz 13 Apr 18, 14:37 LI subscriber
Well, if true, I don't think COO is required to be a ratcatcher personally, but presumably COO is responsible for instructing or hiring someone like an officer manager who can hire a ratcatcher?
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Like +1 Object -0 Old Aunty 13 Apr 18, 15:02
Kids between 20 and 35 are most exploited. Then suddenly when the hair starts greying they understand the ways of the world.
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Like +2 Object -0 So I have heard 13 Apr 18, 15:45
Heard the light bulb story too. That’s when this hire made perfect sense.
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Like +2 Object -0 Unhealthy 13 Apr 18, 12:16
All the above job descriptions seem that its Night Duty. Post evening Pre Morning.
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Like +2 Object -0 Insider 13 Apr 18, 14:52
It is a joke kian, or is it? :-)
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Like +0 Object -0 Slim Shady 13 Apr 18, 18:19
How on earth is this even relevant? .... Surely, he'll make Zia happy. FTW!!
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