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Kochhar & Co starts South India drive with two lateral partners

Kochhar & Co - Siva K Gopinatham
Kochhar & Co - Siva K Gopinatham

Kochhar & Co has hired two partners in Chennai and Hyderabad in a major South India push, which includes new Chennai and Bangalore office space and further expansion plans.

Singhania & Partners Hyderabad head Siva Kumar Gopinatham (pictured) joins Kochhar & Co as commercial and corporate partner and branch head of Hyderabad.

Devji Associates Chennai partner Vijay Raghavan is joining as partner and head of Kochhar & Co's intellectual property (IP) practice in Chennai.

Gopinatham said: "I was looking for career growth and Kochhar & Co is a larger company having a large range of clients… And since Hyderabad has such a huge market that has not been exploited by law firms I thought it was a huge opportunity. There is a dearth of quality law firms in Hyderabad we can really pick up."

"Strategically I would be taking forward the business of Hyderabad and the entire Andra Pradesh region," added Gopinatham, who specialises in corporate law with an emphasis on IP work.

Singhania & Partners declined to comment on Gopinatham's departure.

Raghavan said he had also moved to Kochhar & Co for the larger label and international exposure: "Here I saw an opportunity and South India by any standards is growing - the IP awareness is phenomenal and I am looking at the entire South India IP work."

He explained that he also expected changes in regulations that would soon permit software patent filing without independent of hardware patents, which would be a large growth area.

Kochhar & Co's IP practice is currently focused in Delhi but Raghavan said that he would be in charge of growing the practice in South India. "What we are trying to do is spread awareness of IP," he said. "We give lectures and conduct seminars and then the work just flows naturally."

Devji Associates managing partner Dilip Pandita said: "Vijay is a fine IP professional and one of the best trade marks attorneys in India, with lots of entrepreneurial skills. We are sure, with this assignment, he will achieve longer lasting and international reputation. We wish all the best for Vijay Raghavan on assuming charge as partner South India, IP practice for Kochhar & Co."

Kochhar & Co is also moving into a new Chennai office of 7,000 square feet in Raheja Towers from its current bases that are spread across two location of a total of around 4,000 square feet.

The firm has also finished building its new Bangalore office of approximately 10,000 square feet and will move there shortly with roughly 40 lawyers.

Kochhar & Co senior advisor to managing partner Vivek Ahuja said: "In Chennai we were not expanding because of paucity of space. With the new office we should have at least 28 to 30 seats." He stated that the firm currently had between 15 to 20 lawyers in Chennai, with four corporate partners and one IP partner.

The Hyderabad office was currently only three to four lawyers in size but Ahuja added: "The next target is Hyderabad - we are looking for either redoing the space we have already or moving out to a more corporate area."

The total size of the Kochhar & Co is currently 119 lawyers spread across New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and two overseas offices in Atlanta in the US and Singapore. The firm also has a representative office in Tokyo.

CORRECTION (22 February 2010): The article originally stated that Kochhar & Co had 135 lawyers across its offices. The actual number is currently 119, according to the firm.

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