Ish Bali, director of legal at Coca-Cola India, explains how it is possible to run a tight ship with help from your larger family
The complexities of doing business in India, combined with a need to keep a lid on legal costs, have led several companies across India to create large teams of in-house lawyers. Many report that as a result they are able to do more work in-house and less needs to done by external lawyers.
At Coca-Cola India – a subsidiary of the Atlanta-based beverage company – around two-thirds of the legal and compliance work is done in-house. But at this company, which is the owner of Thums Up and Sprite, India’s top selling drink brands, it is all down to what is essentially a two-person legal team: director legal Ish Bali and his boss, Devdas Baliga, vice president legal. They in turn report to the general counsel of the Pacific Group at Coca-Cola, Yueh Fang Lee, who is based in Atlanta.
Bali’s remit covers Coca-Cola India and the Coca-Cola India Foundation, through which the company does its bit for sustainable development and inclusive growth. He also provides legal advice to the company’s franchisee bottlers in India and southwest Asia (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives). With no lawyers working either “under or alongside” him, he handles the legal needs of businesses that employ approximately 15,000 people.