In-House Committee Member Kiran Advani makes being a success sound like a breeze and, ever modest, she insists that any woman with determination can accomplish all that she has. To be clear, Kiran spent the past decade adding value to her businesses as an IP and technology transactions expert, filled a market niche by operating one of the country’s first pre-natal fitness centers, and manages to perform with an Indian dance troupe in her spare time. In sum, she’s basically superwoman.
Kiran’s drive and positive attitude have taken her career in many interesting directions. With two years as finance counsel under her belt, she started out at Vedder Price’s renowned global transportation group. While her first role laid the groundwork to building her discipline and work ethic, this role instilled in her the value of being an excellent communicator, something that Kiran considers one of the most crucial skills needed to succeed in the legal field. Working long hours in a variety of time zones meant that it was imperative for Kiran to let her team know exactly what was going on at any given time and to be clear about any hiccups along the way so that no last-minute emergencies ensued. Kiran enjoyed this role immensely, but she knew that her ultimate goal was to work with the synergy of an in-house team, so she used her skillset to land her first assistant general counsel role. Unfortunately, the recession hit, and just months later she was affected by company lay-offs. Ever positive, Kiran focused on the fact that she had the good fortune of getting her foot in the door of the in-house world, and shortly thereafter she networked her way into a Senior Counsel role with Affirmative Insurance. Kiran was responsible for the review and approval of technology deployment, services, and vendor agreements, oversaw vast real estate and trademark portfolios, advised her marketing department with legal compliance issues, and managed outside counsel on litigation matters.
Kiran then took a break from the legal field to allow her entrepreneurial streak to shine. A fitness lover, Kiran noticed while pregnant with her first child that there was a dearth of facilities tailored to assist expectant mothers with their fitness and wellness goals. To Kiran, this was unacceptable, and she and her husband opened a dedicated center as a one-stop shop for fitness classes, training, massage, and acupuncture for soon-to-be and new moms. When Kiran was ready to return to the legal field, she used her understanding of the fitness business to join the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago as Senior Counsel and later as Assistant General Counsel. Kiran describes her role as the “Jill of All Trades,” where she reviewed more than 1,000 contracts in any given year, oversaw all litigation, and supported company executives on Board matters, high profile transactions, and corporate governance matters. Having run her own business, Kiran understood the importance of calculated risk-taking as an essential element of success. In her own words, “without the business, there is no need for in-house counsel,” and Kiran views the role of any successful attorney as a creative problem-solver who actually encourages taking well-thought risks instead of avoiding them as a go-to solution.
Kiran recently joined the Chicago Transit Authority as Chief Attorney in the corporate department. Although initially hired as the lead attorney for CTA’s real estate transactions, Kiran’s networking skills enabled her to incorporate her love of IP and technology transactions into her practice. When the CTA realized what added value she could bring to the business, she became the go-to for IP and technology transactions. She currently manages technology outsourcing agreements, software services, and oversees the use of the CTA’s trademark. And yes, she still teaches fitness classes every now and then!
Kiran’s mantra is that the most stressful days are just that—one day. It is important for attorneys to recognize that everyone answers to someone else and faces their own internal pressures, so when a client or a colleague seems stressed, this should never be taken personally. This type of resilience and good nature has obviously worked for Kiran. Thanks for being such an inspiration to the ChiWIP membership, Kiran!
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