Nilanjan Ghose is Chief Operating Officer at Khaitan & Co., one of oldest and largest law firms in India. We caught with Nilanjan at their swank New Delhi office with appealing, contemporary and modern workspaces to learn about their IT journey.
Please tell us about your organization.
Khaitan and Co. is a 108-year-old firm. The journey started long back in 1911 by Mr. Khaitan in Kolkata. It is from a very small beginning where we started as a law firm supporting the Marwari community in Kolkatta to now when we have grown out of Kolkata and established offices in Delhi, Bengaluru and in Mumbai. We have more than 600 lawyers and the headcount is nearly 850 across all our offices.
Please tell us about your journey at Khaitan and Co.
I have been with the firm for 23 years now. I joined the firm in 1996 as a lawyer assisting one of the partners at the firm in Kolkata. I subsequently moved to Mumbai in 2001 when some of the partners working with Mr. Khaitan moved to the Mumbai to setup the office there. While doing law I also involved myself in tasks that were administrative and operational in nature. The firm needed to liaison between the various offices of the firm and I gradually moved into an operations role here ensuring client databases, going out in the market to establish our presence in Mumbai. In those early days in Mumbai I would open the office in the morning and close it in the night after all had left for the day. Technology became an important piece at the firm as we were growing. The firm has always looked at Technology to improve the efficiency and productivity of the members in the firm. My involvement in Technology grew when we embarked on a journey to build a practice management software for the firm in order to replace the legacy FoxPro based systems. I was responsible for the manage the uptake and diffusion of the new practice management application across the firm. Apart from operations, the tag of a CTO got attached to my role as we embarked on our technology roadmap in response to ongoing technological disruption in the legal industry.
What is the future you envision for your organization?
Law firms have always maintained pace with Technology. The journey began with typewriters, then computers became mainstream and Microsoft word became the default word processor. Microsoft word brought multiple features to the market from one version to another and all those are heavily used by law firms for example red lining, version control, document compare, collaborative authoring and many more. Now we are gearing up for the next phase of Technology which would help in terms of time management for the lawyers. We have successfully adopted AI solution from a legal technology vendor from a Microsoft Gold Partner, Litera Microsystems. These time savings will allow lawyers to spend more time on things that bring value to the client relationship. Technology can help lawyers reclaim time from basic legal services by reducing the documentation and collaboration time. Web conferencing solutions have already helped lawyers connect with their clients through secure web conferencing solutions thus significantly reducing the time they would have to spend on travel.
How do you see Technology enhancing the collaboration fabric of your organization?
We were one of the first companies in India to move from inhouse email servers to Microsoft Office 365. The early adoption paid off since we are extremely happy with the quality of service. We don’t have email outages anymore thanks to Microsoft’s Office 365. No client emails are lost and all emails we send reach out clients. Microsoft continuously works on detecting and monitoring spam emails on behalf of their Office 365 customers. For a lawyer, email is a necessity since all formal and informal opinions reach our clients via emails. So the email system is mission critical for a law firm and has to be very stable and Office 365 has made life much easier for all of us. We also roped in Happiest Minds to develop a full-fledged Document management system for Khaitan & Co on Microsoft SharePoint.
Azure cloud has also been part of our growth story. We have most of our critical databases to the cloud. Database availability was a key consideration driving this decision. Having these databases in house in one of our offices makes the system vulnerable to inter office network issues. But having these databases on the cloud means all offices connect via the regular internet which is significantly more stable. Plus, cloud storage from Microsoft comes with backup and that means we don’t have to backup the data locally on our servers. Microsoft has now moved all backups to their India data center, which means, we can now inspect how Microsoft manages our data.
Microsoft Teams is part of our product pack and has become very popular within the organization. Best part about Microsoft Teams is that it is also available over the mobile and that all data and information exchanges between end users is secured by Microsoft. We have also deployed Microsoft Planner, which gives us control over timeline-based tasks. Different teams use it for planning their work for example the IT team at Khaitan & Co. depend on Planner as a system of record for the yearly IT plans for our Organization. It is very convenient and keeps us on track as it comes with alert and notifications.
Please tell us about your Information security journey so far.
The complexity of delivering access to services from a growing number of devices, platforms, and places drives our Information security strategy. The organization has deployed Microsoft Windows Defender, a self-evolving security platform. This platform enables us to visualize, track and enhance our Cyber Risk Posture. Microsoft’s Intune brings Multi-Factor Authentication to our organization and secures mobile end points. Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection is enabled on the cloud, which is an email filtering service for protection against unknown malware and viruses. We also have next generation firewall and DLP deployed in our organization.
What were your primary reasons to move to the cloud?
The benefits realized from our cloud investments are High availability, easier access, centralization, reduction in maintenance cost, disaster recovery, automatic software updates, CAPEX free, security and scaling. Khaitan & Co. selected Microsoft as a cloud platform as they are designed with the best security practices.