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Aashit Shah becomes JSA’s 23rd one-firm ‘equity’ partner, awaits monsoon Companies Bill; +1 ‘German’ retained partner

Shah: Same same as equity
Shah: Same same as equity
Exclusive: J Sagar Associates (JSA) yesterday effectively promoted Mumbai retained partner Aashit Shah as its twenty-third equity partner, becoming an “equity partner elect” to sidestep the 20-equity-partner limit per firm, while Germany-India returnee Anish Mashruwala was made a retained partner.

Shah, who specialises in M&A, private equity and banking, primarily for client banks and private equity houses, said: “So far I‘ve enjoyed being part of the JSA family and I hope being able to contribute more to the profession and the firm.”

He had joined JSA in 2005 from AZB & Partners as an associate, climbing the ranks to retained partner just over two years later. He started his career at Nishith Desai Associates in 2001 after graduating from GLC Mumbai, followed by an LLM at Chicago Kent College between 2002 and 2003.

Mashruwala: Same same as Hengeler
Mashruwala: Same same as Hengeler

Banking and finance lawyer Mashruwala, who returned to India in March 2011 after eight years with German top-tier corporate firm Hengeler Mueller, was promoted to the salaried partner level, as first reported by Bar & Bench last month.

The ILS Pune 1999 graduate told Legally India: “Coming back to India was also trying to find some place that was as collegial as Hengeler. Different firms have different kinds of organisations within themselves, and I thought JSA would be the closest fit.” JSA had a similar size and meritorious “family” mentality to Hengeler, he claimed.

Mashruwala had completed an LLM at Michigan Law School and is qualified as a New York and English lawyer. In the last year at JSA he had worked with a number of German clients and law firms.

Both promotions take effect retrospectively from 1 April 2012.

In May 2011, JSA promoted six to retained partner level, and the equity partnership had reached its limit of 20.

In July 2011, the firm had promoted 1995 graduates Mansoor Ali Shoket and Rohitashwa Prasad as equity partners elect, then taking the intended size of the firm’s equity partnership to 22.

Electing partners

“There is no other option but to do this,” said JSA senior partner Berjis Desai, explaining the partner elect concept and that the firm wanted to avoid converting into multiple connected partnerships as most other large Indian partnership firms had done, because it was “not a very happy solution”.

Equity partners elect at JSA are not signatories to the partnership deed, but are entitled to amounts paid on retainer that are equivalent to a profit share of the first 20 equity partners. “It’s a very inefficient way of doing things: they are to be treated as though on a retainer, [which is] a complicated tax and accounting exercise,” admitted Desai. “We are hoping that the Companies Bill will be passed in the Monsoon session [which will abolish the 20 partner limit].”

Current law minister and former corporate affairs minister Salman Khursheed had assured the firm for the past two or three years that the partnership limit would be lifted soon, but if “absolutely no solution emerges”, JSA would look into a multiple partnership model.

“The [new equity partner elect] guys would like to feel – although there is no distinction in practice – that they are part of the partnership by signing the partnership deed,” said Desai.

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