Partner Spotlight: Nik Erramilli
Here at CCI, the phrase, “it takes a village” rings true to our work. Over the next few months, we’re highlighting organizations and individuals in our village who help make our work possible: our incredible and supportive partners.
Nik Erramilli, an Atlanta-based attorney specializing in legal and business counsel, led our June Lunch & Learn where he demystified the world of contracts for entrepreneurs. Nik’s firm, Erramilli Law and Consulting group, serves as a business and legal consultant to help businesses execute their plans and achieve their goals. We sat down with Nik and discussed his work at the intersection of law and business.
Thanks so much for sitting down with us, we appreciate the work you’ve done for our organization. Let’s start from the beginning: how did your law and consulting group get started? what is your origin story?
Well, the origin story is me being a very curious kid. I always wanted to explore new things. I had an insatiable appetite for everything going on around me. The idea of having to pick just one major in college never sat well with me because I’m curious about a lot of things; as a freshman at the University of Georgia I started thinking, “I don’t want to study just one thing for the rest of my life.” Law school afforded me the opportunity of majoring in whatever I wanted, so I had a blank slate there. Once you’re a lawyer, you get to study and apply the law to basically any field in the world. So I just kept taking the path of what some might call least resistance, but I think of it more as a path of continuing to explore; never having a door close because I learned one thing and didn’t learn another. My parents have always been very entrepreneurial, and they impressed that onto me. Following my completion of law school, my practice just became its own entity once I realized I had some competence in the field.
You mentioned your parents, but was there a specific reason why you chose to start your own firm over becoming an associate at a larger firm?
I always wanted to be as close as possible to the client. I wanted the law to be a sort of tool for business owners. Initially, my approach was to join a business as an in house counsel. When I experienced that training within a business, I saw how a business owner views lawyers outside the company. Many of them expressed how they wished the law would be used to benefit their business, as opposed to how it is used based on the current model. It opened my eyes to a new way of thinking — being on the inside looking out, as opposed to always being taught from the outside looking in. I wanted to take this unique skill set back to the market. The knowledge and drive to support business owners paired with the entrepreneurial spirit that my parents instilled in me, led me to say, “I’m going to start my own thing, and I’m not going to go from my old job to an associate job.”
You mentioned wanting to be as close as possible to the client. What is the typical type of work you do for those clients?
It’s very diverse. I can pick and choose the clients I work with — that is what I enjoy most about having my own firm. The typical client is a business owner of some sort, and they have some sort of ongoing concern. Whether it’s an investment, whether it's an actual business that does retail work, or whether it’s land, it’s a business owner that’s trying to work through certain legal transactions. Things that are very big in their lives. Through supporting entrepreneurs, I am a part of the inside framework of their lives and businesses; these deals that they are getting into are life changing for them. I also love working with nonprofit organizations. I always, no matter what, maintain some time to just do volunteer work with nonprofits. That has to happen.
What is the mission of your firm? How do you hope to work with CCI through this partnership?
The mission is beyond just law. When you look back at my life, how many people did I help? What kind of a difference did I make? You don’t have to change the world, but you can change some people’s lives. Making a good difference — I think those are the things you remember the most and are most proud of. That’s my observation on the world, and so that’s the mission: how can I make a difference in a positive way in people’s lives? I just chose clients who I think, if I was to do a good job for them, it would be a very positive moment in their life. That’s also why the nonprofit work is important for me.
Because the way I want to have an impact is always evolving, I look to a space like CCI where I can interact with a wide range of people who are doing good things for their communities. It gives me the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs tackling social problems that I’m passionate about solving as well. I’m very devoted to sustainable development initiatives — in terms of food, in terms of bringing up communities, there are so many ways to attack it. I think that’s important because it’s always spoken to me. It’s an evolving part in my life, the difference I want to make.
Let’s end on a fun question. You mentioned being family friends with Rohit’s family when you were growing up. What is your favorite childhood memory with him?
Does everybody get that question? [Laughs] I was in middle school, and I went to his house to watch the annual football game of Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. I was a Georgia Tech fan even though I ended up going to UGA; growing up, my family members and surrounding community went to Tech, so it was a given at that point and time in my life..plus I was just a kid, so I didn’t know how much better UGA is, for the record. Rohit’s a Dallas Cowboys fan, so he didn’t care at all about either of these teams. After seeing me cheer on Tech, he says to me, “oh okay, Nik, you’re cheering for Georgia Tech? I’m cheering for Georgia.” This guy. Fast forward through lots of heckling to the end of the game: Georgia ended up winning, of course. I think back now, and it was a window into the future of my relationship with Rohit. He takes positions he believes in - even if they’re contrary - and he ends up being right most of the time because he’s grounded in belief. You know he knows what he’s talking about. Though it can be infuriating, it brings out the competitiveness that push us all to be better; with that, I’m happy to be partnering with him.