MEET CS JATIN POPAT FOUNDER OF LEGALJINI- BALANCED SOLUTIONS
A Practicing Company Secretary, Expert in Compliance under Tax Laws, Company Law, Legal Matters, FEMA, Labour Laws, POSH, IPR etc.
“Life is like balancing several aspects of life simultaneously including education, career, experience, family, happiness, health and humanity, so be a student always”, says CS JATIN POPAT, FOUNDER OF LEGALJINI
Recently we got an opportunity to know about LEGALJINI & it's incredible journey towards success in an exclusive interview of CS JATIN POPAT, Practicing Company Secretary, Expert in FEMA, IPR & Labour Laws with CLIQTAX:
CT: Please tell us something about yourself, your experience & your journey as a Company Secretary?
JP: Journey in brief: Accountant > Banker > Listed Company Executive & Head Legal > CS Firm > KPO Entrepreneur > Start-up Founder at the age of 48.
While I was in my B. Com in 1985, I started my career as an Accountant when the Company Secretary course was not as popular and most students who graduated, rushed to become a CA or Lawyer.
At my job, I had a senior who had completed his CS and resigned from the company so I was wondering why not do this course so that I can earn well for my family, as well as pursue for a better job.
Though I was not very confident as overall results were low at that time but luckily I was able to clear my Intermediate with oral coaching from the Sydenham centre where I got good friends who are continued to be my friends in my CS journey.
Due to financial needs I had to join a Bank (India’s leading Co-operative Bank in 1988). Life was smooth, I got married, had my first child but I was determined to do my CS as I felt my talents were under-utilized in my Bank job.
I still had a final exam to clear and I used to get a maximum of 3-5 days leave due to the clashing of exam dates with the half-year books closing of the Co-op. Bank. So it took me six years more to achieve my first big dream to clear my CS Final Year.
I cleared my CS in 1994 and there was a mandatory training required to get the membership of CS Training, which was again a struggle as I had to leave my bank job. I was at the crossroads between my family’s financial needs and the CS job, which was not so easy during those days.
I had an inclination that I can do better in the corporate world than a bank job. Somehow, I eventually got an opportunity to do my practical training for CS with TATA Power at Bombay House, one of the most Iconic corporate groups of India.
Thanks to Mr. S. Venkataraman who allowed me as a first CS Trainee in the organisation ever, considering my determination. I still remember those 3 months when I had no salary, but a family to support, house EMIs etc. which emptied my bank job dues like providend fund etc. Looking back, it was the biggest ‘jugaad’ of my life.
Luckily, I got my first job with a company that was promoted by a CA firm and had plans for getting listed. I could was able to learn CS related work here, as well as the working of a professional services firm. Initially I had jumped 3 such jobs in 2 years including listed companies.
In 1996 I got an opportunity to work with Gulf Oil (a Hinduja Group Listed MNC). I worked there for about 8 years and got the expertise in listed company’s company law matters, listing with BSE / NSE, Demat, IPR, JV/FEMA matters, Due Diligence Legal matters, Website etc. This was my best time of learning, gaining rich experience of corporate professionalism.
In 2004 at the age of 37, I resigned from my job as another major ‘jugaad’ of my life to leave cushy corporate job and plunge into a ‘self-employed professional’ role as Practicing CS was emerging like a sunrise industry by 2004.
However, I am proud to say that due to my balanced approach on Law & Practice with maturity, I am still providing my professional advisory to Gulf Oil as a Consultant till date i.e. for more than 16 years now.
Coming to my own company, I started my PCS firm JSP Associates with a small office in 2004 with one staff initially. My firm’s website for PCS ranked top on Google search for several years as most PCS had no exposure of websites. Major work during those days for a PCS was partially company formation etc. as well as annual retainership for small companies for their CS compliances.
CT: How did you conceive the idea of this brilliant venture “LegalJini”?
JP: Normally PCS provide professional services related to company law matters and so did my firm. However, with my past experience as an accountant, banker as well as from corporate matters including Legal, IPR, FEMA, Compliances – I realised that why to restrict services only for Company Law when we have the experience and capabilities to manage several other matters like accounting, tax legal, IPR, FEMA etc.
Hence, to provide other services we had to create a corporate entity with a good name. We felt ‘Jin’ or ‘Jini’ as we say in India, for a magical being that serves all your wishes could be a catchy and unique term. Hence the name was selected as “Legaljini”.
We recruited accountants, lawyers and CS to offer our services.
CT: When LegalJini laid its foundation & what all services exactly do you offer under LegalJini?
JP: After 7 years of experience in providing professional services to the corporate world, we started LegalJini as a Private Limited Company in 2011 to provide online Legal services. Initially we launched as a Legal Services Portal with online Contract Store as an ecommerce offering.
We are pioneers in India for having a Legal Portal as there were none at that time across the country.
Today we provide Business Services of three types i.e. Consulting, Transactional and Outsourcing, related to Accounting, Tax, Company law, Legal, IPR, FEMA, POSH etc.
CT: Tell us something about LegalJini team?
JP: Our LegalJini team includes experienced Company Secretaries, Lawyers, and Accountants. Currently we have team of 20+, and most of them have been with us for more than 7 years.
Our offering is based on the USP of “Balanced Solutions” for clients with a balanced and practical approach to “Law and Practice” related to business services and professional matters.
Our new logo and identity was launched on July 1, 2020 when we entered the 10th year of our foundation and it is a symbol of our business principle of “Balanced Solutions.”
CT: How tough or easy it has been for you to stand as a professional in this competitive market?
JP: We always believe to have a services model that creates value for customers and we try to be different in our offerings. We always strive to be a few steps ahead of our competitors.
For example – we made a good website of our PCS firm in 2004 or a Legal portal in 2011 as first-of-its-kind in India, or even our group’s start-up on Will & Succession services launched in 2015 viz. Willjini.com which offers a unique online Will writing experience.
CT: As compliances and regulations are increasing, reforms have been made, how as a professional do you see them?
JP: Yes India is raising its bar on governance, IT portals, enforcement etc. to get a better ranking in doing business in India for booming opportunities in the global context as well as to accommodate large aspiring professionals like CA, CS, Lawyers etc. for the required career opportunity.
CT: Who is your targeted clientele and what strategy do you prefer to reach out to them?
JP: India Govt has changed the scenario completely by transforming the most critical Govt. services to function totally online. Hence it is now easier to provide services to clients within their expected time-frame without any surprises, which wasn’t possible earlier.
For example – the GST portal has made everything easier for accounting, tax compliances as well as MIS. Our target is to reach out to MSMEs, Foreign Subsidiaries, Large Group’s subsidiaries, NGOs to provide all business services ‘under-one-roof’ on the Outsourcing Model.
CT: How professionals are helping the businesses/start-ups in this compliance era?
JP: Professionals are the front-line service providers for a large number of businesses in India which are MSMEs and Start-ups. Today’s competitive world needs to pay sharp attention on the business needs for founders, owners, entrepreneurs which is not possible without the support of professionals to manage the compliance load.
CT: What suggestions do you want to give the start-ups, which are not so aware of the compliance which have become the need of the hour, to do business transparently as the government has increased accountability?
JP: In all the developed countries, running a business is smooth and easy as everything is system oriented and backed by many professionals / business service providers mostly on an outsourcing model.
It is better for start-ups to have a compliance partner under outsourcing model in place during its initial 2-3 years so that all their required attention can be given to conducting business without spending much time/effort/worry on routine compliances.
CT: What do you want to say about the aspiring professionals who are currently at student stage?
JP: My humble suggestion to all our young professionals would be to aspire to manage bigger roles, wait for the right opportunity, keep patience and continue improving till you reach your goals.
Life is like balancing many aspects simultaneously including education, career, experience, family, happiness, health, humanity, spiritual, etc. So always be a student.
CT: What are your thoughts about the recent COVID 19 situations, how the role of professionals has been evolved in these tough times?
JP: Professionals services to business is like what fuel is to automobile, if the automobile is at standstill, it may not require fuel. Fortunately most professionals took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown for learning via webinars, hosting webinars, upgrading on their IT skills, etc.
One silver lining to the COVID-19 situation would be that henceforth all professionals, clients, corporate executives shall be accustomed with online meetings and hence shall save a lot of travel / visit time which was the norm earlier.
Also professionals now have the opportunity for Work From Home, a culture which was not normal in India. Many professionals should realise their shortcomings on IT systems like cloud data, emails etc, if any, and try remaining up to date on that front.
CT: Please share your insight on CLIQTAX as a firm motivating entrepreneurship?
JP: We really appreciate the efforts of CLIQTAX which is providing a much needed platform for Professionals like CS, Lawyers, CAs who have all the skills and capabilities to be successful entrepreneurs just like any other professionals from IIMs or IITs.
CLIQTAX extends heartiest wishes to CS JATIN POPAT for his journey as a mentor and entrepreneur. Kudos to him for such an amazing interview.