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Bhavik Patel

Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard

patel-bhavikJust about two months into his new job as managing partner at Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, Bhavik Patel said things had been going “fantastic” so far.

He’s most proud of a “leader lab” program he helped put together before he took on the role of firm leader and has continued to push out in recent months.

The program, for associates and counsel at the firm, focuses on business development capabilities, teamwork, collaboration and leadership training.

“It’s been going really great,” Patel, 38, said.

His enthusiasm for the firm and dedication to trying new ideas hasn’t gone unnoticed by colleagues, who were excited to see him take on the role of managing partner, like Sandberg shareholder Teresa D. Bartosiak.

“We believe he’s going to take our firm to the next level,” Bartosiak said.

But his promotion to managing partner wasn’t just exciting for his colleagues at Sandberg — it was a milestone for the South Asian community in Missouri.

Patel is believed to be the first South Asian American to lead a major law firm in Missouri and is in an “elite club with only a handful of members” nationwide, said Anjula Singh, executive director of the national South Asian Bar Association.

“He’s definitely an example for all of us in the South Asian legal community. We hope to see more South Asian partners rise in the law firm ranks in this area and across the country,” said Omar Malik, president of the St. Louis Chapter of the South Asian Bar Association.

Patel said he is proud of himself and the South Asian community at large for the achievement, but he also said he didn’t feel any particular pressure about breaking new ground. Instead, he’s focused on pushing his law firm forward.

In addition to the leader lab, Patel is proud of a program he and a few other partners recently came up that helps commercial property owners reduce property taxes.

“It’s a service that fits with our mentality as a firm of value-added to our customers,” he said. “It’s outside of the box, nontraditional.”

Patel said one of the top achievements of his legal career is encouraging and empowering innovation and creativity to be the norm at Sandberg, where he has worked since 2004.

In addition to his role as managing partner, Patel chairs the firm’s wealth planning group and special needs planning group. Building up the estate planning practice, as well as the business practice group he works in, are also among Patel’s proudest achievements as a lawyer.

As managing partner, Patel said he’s enjoyed getting to know people throughout the firm, in addition to those he knew well in practice group.

Looking ahead, Patel has a number of goals for his first full year leading the firm including additional revenue generation, increasing opportunities for ventures “that may not be traditional” and laterally recruiting as the firm is actively growing.

“I also want to continue to raise the profile and branding of the firm,” he said.