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Naik becomes best friends with int’l firm Lawrence Graham (LG)

Ameet Naik
Ameet Naik

Naik Naik & Co and London-international firm Lawrence Graham (formerly known as LG) have entered into a preferred referral relationship.

Barring client preferences or expertise, LG will refer client’s India-related work to Naik in India and Naik will refer work to LG’s international offices, explained Naik managing partner Ameet Naik and LG’s India head Sunil Kakkad.

Naik Mumbai partner Madhu Gadodia said: “The agreement is essentially about the referral arrangement. But while non-exclusive in nature, the endeavour is to implement it as far as possible and make referrals to the best extent to each other, with obviously client preference over everything else.

“The idea is to look for opportunities for work and referrals and to expand [the practice areas of specialisation] across both the firms.”

Ameet Naik added that the two firms had been working together and regularly cross-referring work since around 2010, so this was the “logical next step”, however, an eventual merger if the market were to liberalise was not even discussed.

“We see it as an exciting opportunity,” said Kakkad. “We’ve known Ameet and his partners for a number of years and watched it grow. The biggest benefit of the arrangement would be to assure LG clients that they would be looked after in as “safe way, as [they] would in London”.

“That’s ultimately at the core of the relationship – a position to respond in the best ways possible to the needs of our clients,” he added.

While most other UK-Indian law firm best friendships have ended and have resulted in lower referrals from non best-friend firms, Kakkad said that LG would continue to use other firms where clients had their own relationships or in particular niche practice areas.

“In any relationships of this nature is a risk to alienate others but we hope these relationships are of a sufficiently strong nature that we continue to have cordial relationships,” noted Kakkad. “We are strictly aware of the risk and will take this risk.”

On the same point Ameet Naik added: “We do a lot of direct work for clients, and our media and entertainment work is quite direct. It really doesn’t affect our relationship with other firms. If a firm wants to come to us with expertise it doesn’t dilute that for us.”

Naik said that while the firm was traditionally heavily media and disputes-focused, the spread has expanded in recent years to include corporate commercial work, private equity and real estate - all areas where the firms would cross-refer.

LG’s India group consists of around 13 to 14 lawyers, with five partners in London and one in Dubai, explained Kakkad, of whom all billed more than a third of their time on India-related matters. He said he hoped that the firm’s new Singapore office would also begin to act as a hub in future.

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