TheAttorneys Corporate Law Consultants LLP
In a world that is limited by stereotypes and typecasts, Anku Khanna, has boldly broken boundaries and dared to reach for the skies that are of her own making. A law professional of eminent stature, she is a stalwart of the legal fraternity with her signature being ‘TheAttorneys LLP’ – a corporate law firm that she founded 14 years ago. She has worked unceasingly to establish it firmly in the legal firmament.
The brilliant Anku was born to be an achiever. Born and brought up in Patna, Bihar, she showed spark and mettle that was unparalleled amongst her peers. Her parents, recognizing her potential encouraged her to pursue a path of achievement that was at the time exclusive territory of the male sex. Being the youngest and the only girl child preceded by two older brothers only served to show her the way to being an aggressive achiever.
Her first noteworthy performance that set her dreaming big was when in her 10th Boards exams she got 4th rank at St. Joseph’s Convent High School. Her conviction in herself strengthened when the prestigious Patna Women’s College welcomed her and Patna University awarded her top honors in her chosen discipline of Economics (Hons.) Her academic achievements inclined her family toward Civil Services but her interests lay in pursuing the legal profession and so she chose Company Secretaryship – an unthinkable for girls in those times. The year 1998 saw her goal achieved with all groups cleared and Nestle India selecting her as the Management trainee.
Her first job commiserate with her qualification as Company Secretary was with the top most law firm, of India, Singhania & Co. (Delhi office). But, Anku did not want to rest on her laurels. She wanted to scale and conquer challenges. Law beckoned and the entrance exam to Law Faculty, at Delhi University, did not prove to be very difficult. So it was those seeds of her passion for law that were sowed at that early stage.
Things were not a cakewalk and she put in 14 years of hard work in several other leading firms of India, gaining experience They say that behind every successful person, there is another. With Anku, it was her husband – himself a seasoned in-house counsel who has been working for some of the big MNCs in India. Anku acknowledges that the inspiration to establish the firm came from him.
“Once I decided that job-hopping was not for me, establishing my own firm was the logical thing to do. It was a dream to build my firm as an institution with strong client-centric capabilities. This required a real shift in the mindset, from being only a lawyer and then to sit on the chair of a managing partner as an entrepreneur, responsible for making right strategies for the firm, developing professional synergies, retaining clients, on-boarding new clients, building a competent team and bills to be paid”. “Being an entrepreneur was a new learning curve, and I worked round the clock with a 360-degree approach to lay a solid foundation. Starting with a small office in a business centre to much bigger space in Delhi to offices in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and London the journey is ongoing. My son was hardly 6 at the time. Yet, he was my biggest supporter, always cooperating and accepting the constraints of a working mother, cheerfully. My family’s support went a long way in leaving me free to follow my heart. The knowledge that they were standing behind me helped me sail through the tough times.”
Today, Anku is a very proud helmsman of her Firm which has grown from strength to strength and currently sustains a client list comprising of global businesses who entrust her with the objectives of establishing and expanding their presence in India and abroad. The Firm has a formidable repertoire of M&A (merger & acquisition) transactions, consultancy to corporates across multiple sectors, and professional support in firming up the right legal strategies for many foreign companies in setting up operations in India.
In addition, Anku is on the advisory board of many startups. She also assists major Indian companies in setting up their compliance management program and is on the Internal committee for POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace) for some of her clients. Her passion for perfection also fills in for her qualification as a force to reckon with.
Has being a woman ever limited you? we ask her. She replies, “The biggest limitation is self-created inhibitions. It is this that gets one stereotyped. I have personally found that ‘nothing succeeds like success’ – and to achieve this stage one has to transcend one’s own prejudices and imaginary hurdles. The simple formula of Hard Work X Focus X Dedication = Success”. So, no, I do not think that I have ever felt short-changed in being a woman.
Anku’s biggest strength has been her ability to ‘multitask’, her ‘tenacious perseverance’, and her relentless pursuit of excellence in her profession. The three combined have powered her achievements.
And her greatest achievement? “Everything that I have been able to do till now and am still doing is my achievement. I have never been swayed by desire for public recognition. It was only when Lex Falcon shortlisted me for an award at their event in Singapore that I filled up a formal nomination form. But despite that, the most overwhelmingly gratifying honour remains the complete trust and comfort that my clients show in me which often translates into repeat work by them and new work through their referrals”.
As for her source of inspiration, she says it is a daily business. “I like to stay inspired. So the inspiration for me can come from any quarter. It can be a quote, a song, an old forgotten photograph, a beautiful tree, a painting, or even a phone call from a friend. I cannot pin it on one single object or a person. All successful women who have achieved what they set out to, are my inspiration and role models. For they show that doing away with personal inhibitors is possible.”