How has your role / involvement in client facing work changed since becoming managing partner/setting up your firm?
I set up my law firm, Tanjib Alam and Associates back in the year 2009 with a small number of talented associates. I remember during that time I had to provide personal attention to all my clients while playing an active role in teaching my fellow associates to achieve the quality of work that my firm is currently known for.
My role in my firm now, has shifted in more of a supervisory nature, where I delegate much of the personal contact to the clients to my colleagues who have by now gained ample experience to deal with clients directly. While it is impossible for me to personally attended to the large number of clients that my firm handles, I am always available to my colleagues to review and advice on critical or complex matters.
I dedicate much of my time for my passion of advocacy and am responsible in regards to all litigation matters in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
I also oversee large mergers and acquisitions in the business sector, such as the historic merger of the two leading telecom operators Robi and Airtel, which was spearheaded by our firm. We have also completed merger of two steel manufacturing companies, which now is the largest steel producer of the country with vertical integration and backward linkage.
What are the biggest challenges facing firms in Asia Pacific and specifically the market in which you operate in?
In my opinion, the biggest challenges that law firms in Bangladesh are facing include per capita judges and human resource development. In an unitary government system, only one Supreme Court is established with two Divisions being the High Court Division and the Appellate Division. Comparing to the population size, Bangladesh has one of the lowest par capita judges and judicial officers, resulting in huge backlog of cases, which hinders the process of justice delivery system. It takes months in getting a case listed and once it is listed, the current system provides no fixed time when a particular case would be taken up for hearing. There are days where we would attend court expecting our case to be heard and being disappointed, while other days we would have multiple cases in various courts appearing simultaneously. Our firm, thanks to the many talented associates, are able to deal with these challenges.
Bangladesh has been performing very well in the past few decades in terms of economic growth. Particularly important feature of the economy is that unlike many neighbouring nations, despite unprecedented pandemic, is projected to grow by 4.5%. Adequate talent to cater for myriad of legal issues and challenges faced by a growing economy like our has always been a challenge. We are very lucky that our team of lawyers have received their education in Europe and capable to solve problems with innovative legal ideas.
The global pandemic has clearly changed the way in which organizations tend to operate. What impact has this had on your clients and your approach to advising clients?
In order to adapt to the Global Pandemic, I conduct client conferences virtually. Thanks to various apps and internet tools, we are able to offer our services without compromising quality and efficiency. At the beginning of pandemic, my colleagues had to adjust themselves with new reality. However, they were very quick to realign their service delivery mechanics with the cooperation of our valued clients.
Our chamber is one of the most tech savvy law firms in Bangladesh. We subscribe all major online platforms for legal decisions and precedents available in India and the UK. We have been conducting hearings of cases virtually ever since the Supreme Court made the facility available for lawyers. In fact, our law firm is one of the forerunners in moving cases virtually during the early stage of pandemic. As a result, despite the global pandemic, we at TAA have been successful in maintain our usual practice almost seamlessly and hope to do so in the foreseeable future.
What do you do differently from other firms? What do you think separates you from your competitors?
The foundation of Tanjib Alam and Associates is based on dexterity and experience. By combining these two elements, we take a tailor made approach that suits the specific elements of our clients’ cases.
Unlike our competitors, we do not employ over-used tactics to resolve disputes. The important point being, in an arena like law which is always in flux, a full-proof method is nothing but a myth. However, we do not try to reinvent the wheel as well.
Keeping this in mind over the years we have kept our attitude towards each case completely different from the other. The benefit of such a process has been twofold: we have learned from our experience and our clients have always been satisfied. In fact, we have earned a reputation for being innovative in providing sustainable solution to our clients’ legal need.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
Yes, of course, the clients would look for practical advice including stability and strategic direction from their legal advisor. Ambit of legal service is continuously evolving and we are learning from our experience to meet the demands of our clients. Now a days the role of law firms is not confined to giving legal advice, rather clients often seek advice and direction regarding risk management and other business infrastructural solutions too. This is mostly owing to the fact that, over the years we have developed a tenacious liaison with our clients, and they trust us to be knowledgeable regarding all the ins and outs of their enterprise.
Although we are situated in the heart of Bangladesh, in the coming years Tanjib Alam and Associates will definitely need another office in an international location owing to growing client demands. Our increasing affiliation with pro-bono work has inspired us to have a separate office in our chambers dedicated only to pro bono cases. On the other hand, excelling in the ICT/Technology and Power/Energy sector is an aim which is quite obvious to mention as we are already a pioneer law firm in that arena.