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Pramod Rao: Path lies in-house (picture via Youtube RainmakerIndia)Pramod Rao: Path lies in-house (picture via Youtube RainmakerIndia)Pramod Rao, the founder partner of IndusLaw’s Mumbai office and former general counsel (GC) of ICICI Bank, will join Citibank India as its GC in July.

He will head up a team of around 18 in India from Mumbai after the former Citi GC, Sandip Beri, resigned to return to private practice last month.

“It’s going to be a challenging time in a multinational and an organisation that is 200 years old and spread out all over the world,” Rao told Legally India about his new role at Citi.

“When I left ICICI Bank as their General Counsel, it was with the stated objective of getting into private practice. Whilst many law firms (it would not be appropriate to name them) approached me, it was I who approached IndusLaw and wanted to be a part of IndusLaw,” he commented in a statement about his joining IndusLaw in April 2012 as an equity partner.

“However, I have also realised that personally the role of partner at a law firm in private practice is not what I am happy with. I am more comfortable in being an in-house counsel, and that is where my path lies. It was difficult for me to come to this realisation. The reluctant acceptance of this decision, and thereafter support by my partners at IndusLaw when I communicated this to them was personally heartening. Given the depth and quality that I experienced at close quarters, I hope to be able to work with IndusLaw in the future.”

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“I guess I either didn’t fully estimate all the stresses and struggles or whatever that one would say exist in private practice,” Rao told Legally India, noting that there were elements of being in private practice where he felt he could not do “justice to the vision”, having grown up professionally in an in-house environment rather than a law firm.

“I think, having understood as to how a law firm works and so on, there will be far more empathy if nothing else, having worked on both sides now.”

The main difference between the roles, he said, was that in-house counsel were generally sitting between the commercial and the legal on a deal, whereas law firms were mostly acting in a purely advisory capacity; “nothing understates the relevance of either”.

IndusLaw partner Kartik Ganapathy commented in a statement: “It was wonderful when Pramod reached out and said he wanted to be a part of IndusLaw. We did realise that Pramod remained an in-house person at heart, but would try to make the transition. It has been great working with him, and we hope that this will continue. It is unfortunate that Pramod took this step, but we wish Pramod all the best in his future endeavours.”

The six-lawyer-strong Mumbai office of IndusLaw will be headed by partner Priyanka Roy, who joined from erstwhile start-up Alliance Legal. IndusLaw was founded in 2000.

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