An Ace Advocate – Bambi Bhalla: Simplifying Your Life with No Grey Legal Solutions

Bambi Bhalla
Bambi Bhalla

Life without challenges is like a story without entertainment. Just like a gripping saga needs obstacles to keep us hooked, our lives gain excitement from overcoming challenges. Tackling issues and finding solutions to our problems is what makes our times interesting.

The modern world throws us curveballs we’ve never seen before. That’s why we need to ditch outdated playbooks and embrace fresh thinking. We need an unconventional approach every time, all the time. Think of every problem as an opportunity to get creative!

Similarly, legal troubles are part and parcel of our personal and professional lives. From legally registering a baby’s name and then inventing and updating its lifelong identity to establishing our professional or entrepreneurial careers to writing our will, everything in between is tightly tied to the law of the land. The sheer vastness of it gives us goosebumps.

The Legal Labyrinth: The Superwoman Enters

The complexity of the law can be daunting, but fear not! Let me introduce you to Bambi Bhalla, crowned “The Most Powerful Female Lawyer of the Year 2024” of Women World India. As a Counsel at Cornellia Chambers and a Co-founder of No Grey Legal, Bambi is a force to be reckoned with.

Bambi is a seasoned corporate lawyer with over seven years of extensive experience in the legal domain. Throughout her career, she has worked with reputable law firms, specializing in various areas including venture capital, private equity, foreign investments, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate advisory, commercial contracting, private wealth management, employment law advisory and contracting, investment transactions, technology, telecom and intellectual property law.

Her expertise encompasses drafting, reviewing and finalizing various agreements and policies for Indian and international clients spanning diverse sectors. She has played a pivotal role in transactions, handling crucial documents such as share purchase agreements, share subscription agreements and shareholders’ rights agreements.

In the realm of intellectual property, Bambi has managed IP portfolios for renowned FMCG companies worldwide and has represented clients before the trademark and copyright office in India. She is also well-versed in telecom regulations, offering valuable insights to clients in the enterprise communications space and assisting in drafting and reviewing their business documents such as vendor agreements, service agreements and non-disclosure agreements.

The Genesis of a Legally Adept Mind

Bambi’s journey in the legal industry started in 2012 when she enrolled in the five-year law course at Jindal Global Law School. Bambi recalls, “Perhaps it was the first time in my life that I felt ready to take on the “real world” and make something of myself.”

Law school is a competitive space, and it teaches you a lot about yourself, in addition to learning how to navigate the complexities of the laws and the world we live in. Around the fourth year of law school, Bambi decided to specialize in Intellectual Property (IP) law. She started taking elective courses related to copyright, licensing, patent law and trade mark matters. She also interned at some of the top IP firms in Delhi NCR to gain practical experience in the field.

At these firms, Bambi had the opportunity to assist her seniors in various trademark and copyright-related disputes at the Indian trademarks and copyright registry for some of the most prominent brands worldwide. In her fifth year, it was clear to her that she wanted to pursue a career in IP law.

The Lawyer is Born

A couple of months before graduating, Bambi secured a pre-placement offer at a top IP firm ‘Inttl Advocare’ based out of Delhi NCR. Her role as an IP lawyer involved advising clients across the globe on various trademark and copyright-related laws in India. She handled IP portfolios of some of the leading FMCG companies in the world and dealt with all aspects of trade mark and copyright prosecution in India. Her work involved conducting clearance searches, drafting replies to examination reports, strategically developing and managing trade mark and copyright portfolios and appearing before the trademarks and copyright registry.

After her stint at Inttl, Bambi decided to venture into the expansive arena of corporate law at Obhan & Associates. At Obhan, she handled all aspects of commercial contracting, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, real estate transactions and general corporate advisory.

Pursuant to this, I decided to join my mentor and friend Pritika Kumar’s boutique law practice, Cornellia Chambers, based out of Delhi NCR, Goa and Hyderabad,” Bambi shares. Pritika is a lawyer with over 17 years of experience and has worked with prominent names in the industry. “She is also, in my humble opinion, a force to be reckoned with,” says Bambi.

At Cornellia, Bambi’s practice areas include venture capital, private equity, foreign investments, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate advisory, private wealth management, technology, telecom, employment and labour laws and education.

The Constant Pursuit of Making Legal Services Digitally Accessible

Bambi shares that at Cornellia, the team believes in innovation, and they have, in their pursuit to make legal services more accessible and efficient, founded No Grey Legal under the guidance and mentorship of their CEO Pritika Kumar.

No Grey is a legal service operating system with various applications for lawyers and customers. The use of technology in delivering legal services has become increasingly important worldwide, and India is no exception. Bambi says, “Our first application is called WILL IT, which helps users write their wills online, appoint a guardian for their minor children and create a trust of their assets under their will (also called a will trust or testamentary trust).” The applications have been built so that users can easily fill out the smart and comprehensive will form to generate a legally compliant will document for themselves or their loved ones. Bambi says they offer personalised guidance and support through their network of lawyers on the platform. She adds, “I believe that No Grey is the future of the legal services industry in India. I feel like my journey has just begun with No Grey, and I am excited to carve out a niche in the legal tech space in India and worldwide.”

Bambi’s inspiration for venturing into the legal field was a passion for justice and a desire to make a meaningful impact. Although one ventures into this space with very idealistic views of how the world functions, through her experience of working with various law firms and also working in-house at Infosys to now building digital legal solutions, Bambi finds herself inspiring young lawyers to recognize their potential to effect meaningful change by being driven, empathetic and dedicated to making a positive impact through their work.

For example, through their application, WILL IT, Bambi and her team are solving a big problem regarding succession planning in India. She informs, “Through our law practice, we have seen numerous instances where disputes have occurred due to badly drafted wills.”

When a person does not create a will, their assets are distributed according to the default schedule found under the succession laws, which means that they do not have any control over how their assets will be distributed once they are gone.

The laws are quite skewed for women. Prior to the 2005 amendment of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, women had no share in ancestral property. The 2005 amendment gave daughters equal rights in ancestral property.

Unfortunately, many women, even today, have no idea about their rights due to a lack of awareness and also strong patriarchal traditions, which continue to discourage women from claiming their rightful share in ancestral property.

If a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain woman dies intestate (i.e. without making a will) and if her husband and children also pass away, essentially all of her property will go to her in-laws as per the default schedule under the Hindu Succession Act.

Bambi adds, “This is why we hold numerous workshops for Indians to encourage them to write their wills, and we also speak to various women’s organizations and conduct awareness programs focusing on women’s rights in property.”

Bambi and her team also collaborate with various institutions to conduct workshops on the creation of will trusts, living trusts and guardianship laws. She shares, “We have been approached by several individuals and communities on the creation of trusts, particularly in cases where there is much wealth, or there are children or other dependents with special needs or other disabilities. We have been advising such individuals and communities on the creation and execution of their trusts.”

Imparting Legal Education

Bambi is constantly inspired by her colleagues and mentors and she hopes that their work at Cornellia Chambers and No Grey inspires others to see the immense value of a legal education, “not just for shaping our minds but for creating a broader lasting impact on society.”

With technology evolving rapidly, it’s now more possible than ever to leverage legal knowledge for significant change. No Grey will be a game-changer for the legal services industry in India and an example of how technology can revolutionize access to justice and make it more inclusive.

Currently positioned as one of the fearless legal solution providers, the team’s expertise at Cornellia and No Grey lies in venture capital, private equity, foreign investment, general corporate advisory, mergers and acquisitions, private wealth management, telecom, technology, foreign exchange management, foreign contribution regulation, media and education. The team regularly appears before the Supreme Court of India, High Courts and various tribunals.

With a collective legal practice experience of more than three decades, says Bambi, they have been able to identify the key issues faced by individuals and businesses in India regarding their legal requirements. “We are building applications based on the best quality, standards and processes in the legal services industry.”

Having also seen the gaps in the day-to-day functioning of the legal departments and organizational operations, the No Grey platform is being built to meet these specific requirements in a quick, legally sound and cost-efficient manner through the use of technology backed by a community of integrity—and impact-driven lawyers.

No Grey is committed to making use of and provision of legal services simple. “The idea of No Grey emerged due to requests from our clients,” reveals Bambi.

Also, having closely watched and observed the problems faced repeatedly by people in general and their clients in particular, they realized there is a real need to develop the No Grey platform.

The urgent need for a platform like No Grey

For example, Bambi cites that individuals have approached them several times to draft their wills, lease agreements and property sale agreements. On the other hand, companies, especially SMEs, have approached them several times to organize and manage their day-to-day legal and contracting operations. Through their experience, they have also seen that the root cause of most legal disputes before courts and arbitral tribunals, which result in personal and business losses, is poorly drafted legal documents and a lack of easy access to quality legal services in India. The need for the use of technology in the provision of legal services in India has also been recognized by the present Chief Justice of India (Justice Chandrachud) on several occasions.

No Grey’s USP is that it is backed by recognized practising lawyers with deep legal experience and insights into the industry. Bambi assures that she and her team will also train, retain, moderate, manage, and certify lawyers and notaries on the platform. This will help create enormous opportunities for young and bright legal professionals in a market where the opportunities are neither equal nor equitable presently.

An Evolving Legend

Bambi’s clients, colleagues, and authorities admire her numerous professional qualities and values. She is a highly collaborative individual who thrives in independent and team settings. Her most admired quality might be her ability to delve deeply into her work, whether conducting thorough legal research, crafting precise documents or engaging with clients to provide practical solutions tailored to their specific needs.

Her empathetic nature fosters trust with both colleagues and clients. By actively listening to their concerns, she connects with them personally, creating an environment of understanding and collaboration. This empathy allows her to grasp the nuances of their situations, anticipate potential challenges and offer insightful guidance. Within her team, this fosters a supportive and cooperative work culture where ideas are openly shared. It helps build lasting relationships with clients as they trust that their needs are not only understood but prioritized in every decision.

Furthermore, Bambi’s meticulous attention to detail ensures that every aspect of her work aligns with the client’s goals and adheres to legal standards. This combination of skills allows her to significantly contribute to her team and the clients they serve.

Building No Grey has also empowered her to explore her creative side. Over the past two years, Bambi has embraced opportunities beyond traditional legal work, taking on roles such as product manager, social media manager, content creator, sales manager, marketing strategist, and operations manager. Additionally, connecting with individuals outside the legal industry to explore potential collaborations and partnerships has been a refreshing experience, broadening her understanding of other sectors.

No Grey OS of Legal IT

Speaking more about their organizational offerings, Bambi says that on the B2C side, they have presently launched/are launching the following digital legal products this year:

*‘Will it’ (automates drafting and execution of legally approved wills and will trusts/testamentary trusts),

*‘Trust it’ (automates drafting and execution of living trusts),

*‘Lease it’ (automates drafting and execution of legally approved lease agreements) and

*‘Sell it’ (automates drafting and execution of legally approved sale agreements).

All our B2C products will provide access to No Grey certified lawyers, updated and standardized legal opinions in FAQ and video format.” The No Grey certified lawyers will be regularly trained and monitored on the platform.

Bambi adds, “Our vision for growth involves further enhancing our platform capabilities, strategic collaboration and partnerships with those who share our vision. We will extend our products and services to various regions in India and also outside India by adapting our platform to cater to different laws in various jurisdictions.”

Bringing Law to Your Fingertips

Being an experienced leader, Bambi shares her opinion on how adopting modern technologies impacts the legal industry and how they adapt to change. She says that post-COVID-19, the legal sector in India has grown less hesitant to embrace technology. Lawyers now work remotely and courts continue to conduct virtual hearings.

With the evolution of AI and the emergence of global companies offering AI-based digital legal solutions, Bambi feels that this is the right time for India to embrace this level of innovation in the legal services industry.

Lawyers are uniquely positioned to lead this transformation. Building an aesthetically pleasing tech product is one thing, but ensuring it is thorough from a legal aspect while addressing legal complexities requires it to be backed by passionate legal professionals. She informs, “Our WILL IT product has been built by lawyers by analyzing over 100 years of case laws and looking at all applicable laws which govern wills, succession, trusts and guardianship in India. We also offer guidance through video tutorials and provide comprehensive guidelines and examples for users throughout their online journey. In addition to this, we offer prompt lawyer support on the platform. We have organically seen this approach work well, and you would be surprised to know the number of people who have been relieved because they found us.” If you can order groceries online, why can’t you make a will or a trust online?

Bambi’s leadership experience in this space allows her to leverage technology to meet customer needs in more adaptive and impactful ways. The shift towards tech adoption represents an interesting opportunity for the legal industry by redefining how services are delivered while maintaining high ethical and professional standards.

Outwitting Obstacles

Considering the current startup industry scenario, Bambi says building a startup is challenging and rewarding, requiring her to wear multiple hats and handle diverse responsibilities. She states, “One of our main challenges is managing tech development. It’s crucial to find the right developers who understand the technical requirements and the broader impact our product will have on the legal industry. Ensuring our tech team remains aligned with our vision while delivering high-quality work is vital to maintaining No Grey’s progress.”

Funding presents another significant challenge, especially with venture capital funding currently at a low point. It demands that Bambi and her team innovate their business model, pitch their products more convincingly and build a compelling case for their customers and investors to recognize the long-term value of their applications. “Networking, strategic partnerships and efficient resource management help us sustain and grow in this tough environment. Also, our founding team gets along very well.”

Despite some of these challenges, the rewards lie in knowing they’re making a meaningful impact, says Bambi. “Seeing the difference we are making in providing more accessible and efficient legal services drives us to overcome obstacles. Feedback from our customers, advisors and investors has been pivotal in our growth. It also motivates us to refine our approach and find innovative solutions by leveraging technology.”

Bambi says they remain confident that they’re on the right track by staying focused on the big picture, maintaining a flexible mindset and learning from each hurdle.

The Fearless Legal Counsel

Before stating the qualities required by a fearless woman lawyer, Bambi says she is grateful to be surrounded by so many incredible women in her family and friend circle who are doing amazing work in their professional space. She adds, “In my opinion, a fearless woman lawyer should firstly be passionate about making a positive impact on society through her legal work by using her position to advocate for change.” Confidence and resilience are important qualities to possess as a lawyer and a businesswoman because you need to bounce back from setbacks and focus on long-term goals. Every day is a new day to learn something new.

Bambi advises, “My two cents to budding entrepreneurs today would be that a great business idea can grow without much investment.” Constraints are imaginary, and limitations are often self-imposed, but great ideas need strong execution to come to life. “I believe that true success in life comes from creating something that resonates with who you are and what you believe in.” Building a business cannot only be for generating profits, but it’s also important for the business idea to align with your values and authentic self. “This is where true fulfilment and success comes from, in my opinion,” she concludes.