Interview with: Nahendran Navaratnam, Founder and Senior Partner

Navaratnam Chambers | View firm profile

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?

I have been privileged to be entrusted on numerous occasions to advise and represent my colleagues at the Bar and their firms when they have encountered difficulties. This is my proudest achievement – to have acted for and enjoyed the trust and confidence of fellow lawyers on so many occasions.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry? What do you see as the main points that differentiate Navaratnam Chambers from your competition?

Our approach to dispute resolution is not different to some others but is uncommon to many. First, we do not believe in litigating for the sake of fees or ego. We do not sugar coat our advice, stir up litigation or evoke unrealistic expectations. We believe that clients deserve truthful and impartial counsel in much the same way we would personally expect when receiving medical advice. Second, many disputes are driven by an underlying motive. Discovering that motive is key to developing an accurate theory of the case which then determines the best evidential and legal approach to adopt. Third, there is a strategic dimension to every case which we work out with each client in advance of each stage of the dispute to monitor progress, avoid surprises and manage costs. When it’s over, we always offer to conduct a post-mortem to help clients learn from the experience and improve structures for the future.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Not everyone’s moral compass is well calibrated or steady, nevertheless always make sure yours is unwavering. Read even more, especially on subjects outside of the law. Write clearly and simply.

Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

We regularly conduct internal training for clients to develop preventive measures to avoid future problems based on what we learn by having acted for them. We also suggest work flow and evidence management techniques both during and after the dispute to assist them to better manage existing and future disputes.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

Clients will likely focus on reducing cost centres, improving internal processes and increasing productivity. We think lawyers ought to play a larger role in proactive structural changes instead of their traditional reactive role.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Technology and innovation will drive changes in the way we work but our core approach to dispute resolution will remain. Greater emphasis on non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation and a move towards a more inquisitorial system would be welcomed.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

We have continued to invest heavily in technology and research materials. We have also developed a collaborative platform of smaller law firms in various practice areas to provide the benefits of a large firm practice without the cost of large firms.

Is technology changing the way you interact with clients, and the services you can provide them?

Personal interaction with clients and with Courts and Tribunals is likely to decrease significantly as virtual meetings and hearings become more common.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

The firm will evolve to adapt to changing work methods which will be increasingly influenced by technology and more complex commercial arrangements. The challenge will be to increase levels of expertise to remain relevant and in demand.