An Entrepreneur of the Law
Applying the global outsourcing trend to the world of torts and contracts, Sanjay Kamlani is forging a new legal industry.Printer Friendly Version
Sanjay Sham Kamlani (LL.M. ’98) and David Perla, his buddy from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, were restless. It was the fall of 2003; Kamlani had already helped take OfficeTiger, a word-processing outsourcing firm based in India, from a business plan to a company of 1,500 employees in four years. Perla was five years into his stint as general counsel at Monster.com. Over an Italian dinner on the Upper East Side, they dreamed about their next career moves. Perla said: “If you gave me three great lawyers in India, I could do the work of my whole office for half the price.” Kamlani didn’t miss a beat: “So why don’t we?”
By the following summer the two had quit their comfortable, high-paying jobs to raise money for a business that barely existed— legal outsourcing. Their New Yorkand India-based company, Pangea3 (from the Greek word meaning “all earth”), uses Indian lawyers to provide legal and patentsupport services including contract drafting and analysis; patent research, analytics and litigation; and document review.
Today, after three years in business, the company boasts 170 employees (100 of whom are lawyers) in Mumbai, and 10 (seven lawyers) in Manhattan. Its client list includes several Fortune 500 companies— although, citing confidentiality, Kamlani allows only that they’ve worked for Yahoo!. Revenues in 2006 exceeded $4 million, and co-CEO Kamlani expects exponential growth in the next two years. “Professionals can provide legal services to people anywhere in the world,” he says. “Geography doesn’t have to impact business.”
Clients are attracted initially by the huge savings that outsourcing offers, Kamlani says. For example, Roamware, a San Jose-based telecommunications company, hired Pangea3 to create an electronic database that would highlight the key terms in about 200 contracts. Alan Sege, the firm’s general counsel, estimated that retaining stateside lawyers would have cost him at least $60,000. Pangea3’s price: $5,000.
Critics of legal outsourcing argue that such low rates are wooing jobs away from U.S. lawyers. They also charge that outsourcing can compromise the quality of the service. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York has recently addressed these concerns, issuing guidelines to keep the process ethical. U.S. attorneys need to supervise the work, ensure client confidentiality and avoid conflicts of interest. Kamlani says Pangea3 already does these things: “Our clients don’t view our attorneys as any less respectful of confidentiality obligations than full-time U.S. lawyers.”
Kamlani also insists that, in the long run, savings on legal fees can help fuel business growth in the United States—an argument that he says ultimately convinces firsttimers to remain clients. For example, an Internet services company with a $300,000 budget for patent review and filing could only afford to file 10 patents a year using New York attorneys. After hiring Pangea3, it can now afford to file 30 patents annually. And then there’s the industrial-products company that last year sought documentreview support in a product-liability case with 4.5 million pages of files. Hiring a U.S. firm for that task would have bankrupted the company, Kamlani says. Pangea3 did the job for less than $500,000. “If we can keep a company alive by allowing them to do a document review in India that they otherwise could not afford, then we have preserved U.S. jobs,” says Kamlani.
The eldest of three sons, Kamlani inherited his entrepreneurial spirit from his dad, Sham, who immigrated to Miami from Bombay in 1967 “with nothing,” says Kamlani. Sham started a business importing exotic birds, and went on to successful ventures in real estate and the garment industry. He and his wife, Kavita, recently opened an Indian restaurant in South Beach.
Kamlani received his B.A. in economics and public policy from Duke University in 1991. After earning his J.D. at Penn, he joined Coopers & Lybrand, where, says former boss Herman Schneider ’64, “Anytime we had a tough problem, he got the assignment.” Kamlani pursued his LL.M. at NYU, which he praised for its “practical and business- oriented focus.” A year after finishing his LL.M. in international tax law at NYU, Kamlani joined OfficeTiger.
Always confident making decisions—he proposed to his wife after six months of dating and they now have three young children— Kamlani moved to India in 2005 to open the Mumbai office. He now spends his time mentoring and supervising his Indian attorneys. “We’re committed to being here for as long as it takes for Pangea3 to run itself,” Kamlani says. “Ultimately, we want this company to be viewed as the Cravath of legal outsourcing.”
All of 2007 Alumni Almanac