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Two former India angel lawyers, 1 Phoenix SA start up law firm for start-ups, Regina

The money start-ups pay may not be great, but it’s a start...

Passion for Regina: Ajay Anand, Ankita Singh, Shikha Bhardwaj (l to r)
Passion for Regina: Ajay Anand, Ankita Singh, Shikha Bhardwaj (l to r)

Two former Indian Angel Network (IAN) lawyers, Ankita Singh and Ajay Anand, and ex-Phoenix Legal senior associate Shikha Bhardwaj have set up a new law firm as co-founding partners to focus on giving start-up founders good legal advice, hoping to grow with the companies.

The firm, called Regina Legal, has opened its doors to offices in Delhi’s Connaught Place with around six to seven start-up clients on its books, as well as one unnamed venture capital fund and one angel network, according to Singh. It would work primarily in four segments, she said: start-up advisory, general corporate and commercial, indirect tax work and IP.

Singh said: “We were working with start-ups and investors at IAN and there is a need for advisers who can tell them what they need to do and what they don’t need to do.”

There were a lot of delays faced by start-ups - less so by investors who can get good legal advice - because of a dearth of lawyers available, she explained. “A lot of tech guys made us feel, we can help these people with the advise which we have and experience, to actually bring the transactions to closure in a shorter period of time, with a balanced approach, and balanced negotiation.”

Singh is a 2011 graduate of Kanpur University, and had started her career working at Fox Mandal from 2009, followed by nearly six years at law firm Corporate Lexport from 2011, before joining the IAN in July 2017.

Anand is a 2006 graduate of Choudhary Charan Singh University in Merut who had been CFO of the Indian Angel Network between 2008 and 2018.

Bhardwaj, a 2012 alumnus from KIIT Law School who had previously worked with Corporate Lexport, J Sagar Associates (JSA) and Reina Legal before joining Phoenix in June 2017, specialises in indirect tax work and some litigation.

He will also remain CFO of growth stage fund Anicut Capital but will be dividing his time between the new law firm and his CFO duties. “Law firms more active in second half of the day,” he joked, adding: "In terms of time and commitment, my whole thought-process is more towards structuring and strategy, and the final negotiations.

He said that he had “already worked with Ankita a lot” and that she and the team could handle much of the early parts of the transactions, with him coming in at the later stages and for strategic input.

"I’ve been in the early-stage ecosystem [...] for a decade, where I handled more than 150 transactions, in terms of primary and secondary investments, and represented investors,” he added. “I have always been contemplating starting a law firm, because I can add a lot of value, helping them close quickly.”

Of course, the reason that there aren’t many lawyers for start-ups is that a lot of them don’t have much money to pay (especially pre-investment).

When we asked Singh how legal start-up work could be profitable, she said: "When you are with a start-up you tend to grow with the start-up - the money is something which can happen at a later period. It is a passion, it runs in our blood now.”

“We’d like to also grow,” she admitted, “but if you are with a start-up, hand-holding them, that is going to give you returns at a later period in time.”

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