Ex-City lawyer finds tasty new job
Rohan Bilimoria worked as a private practice lawyer at Linklaters and Mayer Brown in London, Moscow and Singapore before moving to a regional in-house role at Yum! Brands in Singapore, where he currently lives with his wife Kelly-Anne and son Kairo. He used to read Moretolaw interviews as a junior lawyer, and was more than happy to tell us his own story.
mtl: Hi Rohan, please can you tell us a bit about your legal training and your career in private practice?
Rohan: When I was 14 years old, my family and I moved from New Delhi to start a new life in Sydney. I completed my final three years of high school in Sydney and a combined degree in Law and Finance at the University of New South Wales. My parents were both lawyers and I never really considered doing anything else!
One fine Saturday morning back in 2006, when I was a law student and still trying to work out what to do after university, I switched on my laptop and decided to send e-mails to over a hundred law firms around the world, in the hope that one of them would give me a summer internship.
The only response I received was from the Linklaters office in Singapore. After completing a 4-week internship with their M&A team, I secured an internship in their Tokyo office and went on to start a training contract in their London office.
During my 2-year training contract at Linklaters, I spent time in London, Moscow and Singapore. I qualified into the London office, but then returned to Singapore as a 1 PQE lawyer. Moving to Singapore was a no-brainer, given its proximity to Sydney and status as an Asian financial centre.
After working as an Associate in the Banking and Project Finance practice in Singapore for a couple of years, I moved with my mentor Nathan Dodd to Mayer Brown to assist in setting up the firm’s Project Finance practice in Asia.
mtl: Why have you now moved in-house?
Rohan: Dad was an in-house lawyer at Nestle and PepsiCo for a large part of his career, and he absolutely loved his job. I grew up constantly inspired by him and his peers.
Although being a private practice lawyer was very rewarding, I wanted to be closer to the business and play a more integral role in the commercial decision-making process.
mtl: Tell us about your current role?
Rohan: The quick service restaurant industry is incredibly competitive, dynamic and interesting! As a member of the legal team for KFC Asia and Pizza Hut Asia Pacific, I provide a diverse range of legal and commercial advice to my internal stakeholders, from negotiating restaurant development agreements with our franchisees to conducting regional workshops on franchise agreements. There is never a shortage of excitement, drama or fried chicken at the office!
mtl: What advice do you have for our readers?
Rohan: On Private Practice: Life in a law firm can be financially and professionally rewarding, but also incredibly challenging with long hours and endless timesheets. Make the most of your time by gaining diverse experience, learning new skills and building your professional network.
On moving in-house: Before taking the leap to an in-house role, conduct extensive research and speak to other lawyers in the relevant industry. It’s not for everyone.
mtl: Thank you for your time and all the best for your career in-house.
Rohan conducts training seminars for lawyers across Asia. He is also the founder of two informal social networks:
Food Ninjas - a Facebook page with information on food and restaurants around the world; and
Law Ninjas - a global social network for in-house lawyers.
University of New South Wales, Sydney - Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) (Distinction) / Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
The College of Law, Sydney - Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice
Linklaters, London, Moscow and Singapore - Trainee Solicitor/Associate
Linklaters, Singapore - Associate
Mayer Brown, Singapore - Associate / Senior Associate
Legal Counsel, KFC Asia and Pizza Hut Asia Pacific, Yum! Brands