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Seeking Amartality / Issue 116

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter

There has been no management restructuring more eagerly awaited in the Indian law firm world than Amarchand’s most recent one. Now that it’s out, the headline is certainly dramatic: the firm wants to double in size in the next six years to 1,000 lawyers, which would approach the size of London or New York headquarters of the largest global firms. Question is, can it?

The recipe, in part suggested by a US consultancy, is mixed. The side equity pool has been widened to include five further partners – of whom three are women, commendably – and new procedures have been put in place to ensure the firm’s Mumbai and Delhi offices synergise better rather than compete as they have been accused of doing in the past.

This will include greater soundings in areas such as partnership promotions and 11 new national practice heads who have been appointed – spread exceedingly fairly across the two HQs.

On paper it sounds good and is similar from structures at many international firms adapted to family and local market dynamics. The difficulty is that such ambitious growth strategies are very difficult to pull off in any partnership and have succeeded as often as they have failed globally.

Doubly so with the opportunities available in a rapidly expanding domestic market while having to hire almost seven new partners per year while retaining the old.

Management that can successfully walk the line between strong and collaborative will be key.

The competition is not sleeping either. Khaitan & Co, most observers will agree, has done phenomenally well in recent years in the corporate field. The latest M&A league tables show that by volume Khaitan is now one of the biggest players, even if not yet quite bagging the largest deals, which is still the domain of AZB.

And now for some anecdotes. Lawyers, even the corporate kind, find it almost impossible to get credit cards or bank loans, being effectively blacklisted by most financial institutions despite often representing them. The Maharashtra and Goa Bar Council has come up with a solution and is starting its own quasi-bank. Points for initiative and creativity.

And the other week Supreme Court Insider reported on a social bash hosted by Abhishek Manu Singhvi that was attended by senior lawyers, politicians and judges. The latter part caused a bit of a mainstream social media storm on Twitter (widespread shock that judges talked to politicians) while most advocates shrugged their shoulders and thought, well yes, of course judges talk to politicians and senior lawyers.

Finally, our latest Pendency Project revealed that the Supreme Court needs some help after a record poor September performance adding 400, possibly 1,000, new cases to its full books.

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