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Trilegal extends best friendship with Allen & Overy

Exclusive: Allen & Overy (A&O) and its Indian best friend firm Trilegal have extended their preferred referral arrangement indefinitely after having first entered into it for a limited three-year term.

In November 2010, Allen & Overy senior and managing partners David Morley and Wim Dejonghe, India head Jonathan Brayne and other key A&O India group partners met with Trilegal founding partners in India, deciding to extend the best friend referral relationship that was first entered into in January 2008.

Brayne said: “The original arrangement was that it would be a three-year one. And we’ve extended it, frankly, indefinitely now because both of us were happy with the way it’s gone.

Although the agreement between the firms is a formal contractual tie, the extension was “a bit of a formality”, added Brayne.

Trilegal co-founding partner Anand Prasad added: “It was a three-year thing that we had signed. Part of the thinking was, let’s see how the relationship works in those three years, and I think the relationship has been working extremely well so then we decided to extend it. The question was – do you extend it for another three years, do you renew it for a term?”

“At the time when we signed it, it seemed as if liberalisation of the legal market was just around the corner so three years looked as if it was a decent period,” he explained, “but nobody now knows when the market is going to open up.”

“So we thought let’s just sort of extend it indefinitely and let’s see where it goes,” added Prasad, noting that the substance of the agreement remained the same.

In August 2009, A&O Singapore partner Srinivas joined Trilegal’s Mumbai office.

At the beginning of this year, AZB & Partners and Clifford Chance broke off their best friendship of two years after fewer-than-expected cross-referrals and the possibility of allowing foreign firms to open offices in India moving into the distance.

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