Algo Legal is a new age technology backed firm focused on venture capital and private equity firms, VC-funded start-up companies and corporate businesses. The firm is Headquartered in Bangalore and has offices in Mumbai and Delhi. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Algo’s Chief Innovation Officer, Rasmeet Charya, explains what inspired the firm’s founding, it’s tech-enabled services focus on private equity and venture capital, and what inspired her to pursue a career as a lawyer, legal technologist and legal services sector entrepreneur.
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What is Algo Legal and what inspired its founding?
Algo Legal is an innovative law firm specializing into venture capital/private equity, fund formation practice including legal services to the overall investment ecosystem of investors and founders.
Algo Legal started with a vision and mission to be a tech enabled firm with clear focus on expertise and innovation (basic pillars of the organization).
Sandeep Kapoor who is the Founder and Managing Partner of Algo is a thought leader in legal tech and innovation in addition to being an excellent business lawyer, wanted to create a new brand of legal services driven by tech and innovation to provide a unique experience and distinct value to our clients.
Algo has a particular focus on providing tech-enabled legal services to private equity and venture capital in India. What prompted this focus?
The name of the firm ‘Algo Legal’ gets its inspiration from the word ‘Algorithm’ which simply means, a process or set of rules to be followed in problem-solving operations. Practice of law in a way is similar to an algorithm since one needs to go through a series of well-defined steps and processes in order to reach a viable outcome.
With expertise in this niche market, we understood the pain points and requirements of both sides of the deals (having worked with most of the investors/founders in the industry) and felt there was a great opportunity for practice innovation and productization that can reduce time and effort of the stakeholders, bring greater collaboration and visibility, provide impetus to faster deal making and create value for our clients.
We started with a dedicated team for legal innovation and spent significant time researching, defining, creating a legal tech and innovation roadmap and strategy from day 1.
We significantly invested towards bringing different legal, tax, corporate secretarial, tech, innovation, process and business professionals to the system for better industry knowledge inflow and holistic business approach/mindset. Dhruv Nagarkatti from the Business (COO) and me from Innovation (CIO), Trupteeranjan from legal process and design, Advisory from CTO of Quant, multi-disciplinary teams to collaborate on various law and business areas to provide a more comprehensive solution to our clients.
With a client centric approach and implementing the design thinking principles, we focused on defining the processes and leveraged various tech systems that helped us collaborate and deliver our services to our clients in a simple yet secure manner such as Virtual Data Rooms, Compliance Management, Contract Management and Deal Document Management systems and now integrating into a seamless single platform.
What is your background in law and legal entrepreneurship?
I am a dual qualified India and UK lawyer with 20+ years of collective, litigation, LPO, law firm, risk and compliance, in-house, legal innovation and legal-tech experience. I have had an engaging career while pursuing my legal qualification post marriage, simultaneously raising a child, inheriting a 50+ year old litigation practice immediately upon my graduation out of law school and shouldering the responsibility to run it successfully for 8 years before moving into new avenues. A traditionally established litigation practice came with its own set of unique challenges to my own undiscovered and untapped passion for process-oriented mind. I learnt a lot through adversity, resilience, challenging environment, that consequently led me to take a holistic approach for strategically preparing for a case such as understanding of the issues, every stakeholder’s argument (your clients, opposite counsels, judges, etc.), managing the case diaries and documents. It also made me think and work around areas such as understanding of the court and our own internal practice processes, such as standardizing repetitive and administrative tasks effectively, working towards smart working and eventually gaining client confidence and building a lifelong trust. This was in a way my first stint with legal entrepreneurship in terms of running an established law practice from day 1.
I was always a curious learner that led me to explore other practice areas, and I gained my first ever experience of working for international clients in a small but smart corporate law firm just when India was going through the liberalization process and opened up FDI avenues. This was a game changer for me as I learnt a lot about importance of turning around time bound high-quality work. During 2008, with India buzzing around with outsourcing made me explore the LPO that not only exposed me to UK and US laws but helped me hone my process and project management skills, use and leverage technology into areas such as compliance and contract management and most importantly adapt to change. The risk and compliance experience really helped me get a business perspective of legal and contractual requirements and how to manage legal and business risks.
This tremendous experience and learning helped build my innovative thought process, openness and passion for process and technology that found way into my future ventures whether starting a law firm, working with legal tech company or in my current role as a Chief Innovation Officer.
You’ve worked as a lawyer, legal technologist and entrepreneur, compliance specialist and more. What led you to pursue this variety of focuses?
I am a legalpreneur at heart and always curious to explore new practice areas. I did not plan for it but I suppose this curiosity, urge to learn more and risk taking helped me pursue this variety of focus. Typically, I setup my internal targets of learning and what value I want to create that drives me towards innovation.
I am passionate about bringing tech into legal space as I know how it can benefit lawyers and law firm and have until now designed and created 3+ legal tech products across compliance, due diligence and transaction management areas with tech professionals. I like to engage, collaborate, and work with multi-disciplinary teams as that helps provide holistic approach and business solutions. I believe that we need to be enablers and collaborators. Process and technology are two great tools that need to be embraced by legal professionals and can empower us to upscale legal services to a different level.
As a legal innovation professional, collaborating and contributing to the organisation I work with and my ecosystem is key to me. In addition to various endeavours at Algo, we created and conducted India’s first legal innovation and tech course for the law students of one of the top National Law University that gives me a great sense of pride and satisfaction. It was a wonderful experience to interact and share industry knowledge with the future lawyers to equip them with the tech transformation and contribute to our legal ecosystem.
The legal tech industry in India is at a very nascent stage with its own set of challenges and therefore there is a huge opportunity to innovate and pioneer in terms of practice and product innovation, access to justice, type of legal tech products that can be developed to address these pain points, automation, data analysis and prediction for better decision making and risk management. These opportunities provide huge inspiration and food for my innovative thoughts.