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Induslaw firm profile: On the cusp of pan-India

Team Indus, retreating
Team Indus, retreating
Starting out as Indus in Bangalore and G&D in Delhi and now with four offices, Induslaw as it stands today has come of age with a strictly democratic partnership that has its eye on creating a truly national firm, if it can find the right fit.

“There is no managing partner, everyone has a say,” co-founding partner Avimukt Dar tells Legally India. “Basically what we’re planning to do is to get more partners inducted from the team. We try to give ownership to each partner for certain domains for responsibility for certain tasks.”

The consensus-based approach to partnership requires a lot of communication: every fortnight all partners will have a telephone conference call and barring any unavoidable engagements all partners aim to meet once a month in person too, says Dar (pictured, back-row, 5th from l).

He explains that in partnership structures, the shareholders and management were usually combined anyway and such straightforward democratic structures worked. It was only when a firm started inducting a large number of non-founder partners or non-equity partners that more complicated managing and equity structures became necessary.

College ties

Indus was founded in 2000 in Bangalore by Gomatham Sridhar, Suneeth Katarki, Srinivas Katta, Srinivasa Raghavan – all alumni from NLSIU Bangalore. Dar and Gaurav Dani founded G&D Law in Delhi in 2004, having studied together in the UK at University of Buckingham.

Between them they had worked at firms such as Dua Associates, Khaitan & Co and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“In 2007, we decided the only way to expand is to have a reach across the country and across verticals,” recounts Dar about the time that Indus and G&D merged to become Indus Law G&D.

Firm Fact File

Offices: 4 (Bangalore, Noida (Delhi), Hyderabad and Bhuvaneshwar)
Total number of lawyers: 52 (32 in Bangalore, 16 in Delhi, 3 in Hyderabad, 1 in Bhuvaneshwar)
Number of partners: 8 (5 in Bangalore, 3 in Delhi)
Partnership structure: Full equity partnership, all on fixed shares, no variable.
Practice areas: M&A, PE and VC, corporate commercial business advisory. Litigation and tax litigation.
Practice area split by turnover: 75% transactional, 25% contentious
Top clients: PE and VC funds such as DFJ India, Helion Venture Partners, Oak India Investments, NEA IndoUS Ventures. Companies such as mobile phone maker Micromax, real estate group Vatika, the Smile Group, which owns Fashion and You and bulk marketing businesses, and internet directory start-up Just Dial.
Indian firms recently seen on opposite side of deals: Firms such as Luthra & Luthra, Amarchand Mangaldas, AZB & Partners and J Sagar Associates (JSA).
Transactions/cases involving foreign counsel: 25%
Working with foreign firms such as: Allen & Gledhill and Wong Partnership in Sinagpore, Simmons & Simmons, Shearman & Sterling, Reed Smith, Taylor Wessing.
Fresher recruitment process: Not usually campus interviews although maintains relationship with campuses to keep eye on of students. Predominantly interviewing on request basis and a “very robust” internship programme, according to Dar.
Most impressive interns or students in past year: Seen good quality students form ILS Pune and Symbiosis, and also pretty good quality coming out of Amity as well as Nalsar Hyderabad, and of course NLSIU Bangalore remains a very good workshop for creating very fine lawyers.

In early 2010 the partnership rebranded yet again to Induslaw – one word – according to Dar, a brandname that did not reference any individuals and would also enable to firm to merge or expand to other cities such as Mumbai one day without having to add too many unwieldy initials every time.

Work culture

Roughly 75 per cent of the firm’s work has been transactional in nature, says Dar, and in the past two years during the global economic slowdown private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) instructions have boomed far more than straightforward mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

And last year Nishith Desai Associates’ Bangalore partner Kartik Ganapathy joined the firm, further ramping up the private equity expertise.

Despite PE and VC work having accounted for around 60 per cent of the firm’s non-contentious turnovers in that period, Dar stresses that the ratios between PE and M&A could change any time depending on the markets, with PE being in essence high-risk M&A and bread-and-butter corporate advisory work remaining a mainstay for most law firms.

“Induslaw is not a boutique firm – a tag attached to a lot of firms in the [PE] space,” says Dar. “We do a lot of work that is not that glamorous but what gets reported are the deals and invariably the private equity transactions.”

While the firm did handle some arbitration and tax litigation in Delhi, Bangalore was more litigation oriented with Sridhar handling real estate and litigation alongside pure litigation partner Raghavan.

In terms of future growth the firm would like to capitalise on existing client relationships to grow in capital markets and banking practices says Dar, although he admits that finding capital markets talent and expertise has not happened yet.

In respect of geographical location Dar explains that the partners would want to expand to Mumbai for the sheer size of the marker but are just waiting for the right fit and likeminded people to work with

The firm did not have a formal or structured corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, says Dar, although on the transactional side the firm had many ad hoc initiatives, such as helping NGOs in which the partners believed pro bono, by assisting with the “tremendous amounts of paperwork” and registrations when setting up in India – services that would not come cheaply for a Fortune 500 company.

Legally India’s law firm profiles are a new series where we look behind the scenes of Indian law firms and the way they work and play. All profiles are free of charge and independently written by Legally India’s editorial team.

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