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Expanding abroad and 11+ other things Shardul Shroff plans to do with Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas [via Mint]

Shardul Shroff, the former co-managing partner of Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A. Shroff & Co, is upbeat about his new firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, which was launched on Sunday (10 May) and opened doors in a new city, Mumbai, on Monday (11 May).

But his strategy is different to that of his brother, Cyril Shroff, who started a rival firm called Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas after six months of mediation with Shardul on how to split the nearly 100-year-old majority-family-owned firm in two.

While Cyril is going for a national “single leader” paradigm in running his new firm and more rapid growth, as he explained in an interview published on Tuesday, Shardul is focusing on broad-basing and localising the managing structure of his firm on a regional basis, he told Mint in a telephone interview on Monday.

Quality and client service

In a way we’re going ahead and focusing on how to do our business and have devised our own mission statement.

We want to clearly collaborate with our clients and people to offer solutions on a trusted adviser basis, especially on quality, innovativeness and our team. We want to be part of a quality firm moving forward in terms of how we will offer our services.

Verbatim mission statement

Enabling business by providing solutions as trusted advisors, through excellence, responsiveness, innovation and collaboration.

Graphic via Mint
Graphic via Mint


Primary ambition—to raise quality of the firm to other something that we can deliver innovative services that are superlative in the market.

We must be the go-to firm—the client faith, being a trusted adviser—these are the things that have far greater significance for us, that’s the space I want to carve out for our firm; that’s the space where I feel opportunity domestically.

Attention to all the clients and quality will create the size.

Quality product will attract talent and more clients (means bigger) size—we clearly focused ourselves on creating a quality, solution oriented service.

Return to Mumbai

Clearly Bombay is the commercial capital and offers a great deal of opportunities.

Natural fit that my father, 35 years ago, we were the first firm to have the Bombay-Delhi axis. In a way it’s deja vu but in reverse (with a Delhi-Bombay axis).

Expansion plans:

I don’t want to jump more than 100 [lawyers] every year—I think it’s a quality issue—I expect that by centenary year [2017] we will be 600 plus.

Low leverage [read about leverage and why it’s important here]

[I] want to keep (a) leverage ratio of 1 (partner) is to 5 or 6 (non-partner fee-earners), not 1 is to 10... depending on how the market moves.

No mergers on the cards right now, but not off limits

We’re not talking of mergers at the moment—our approach is to look at talent like we look at knowledge—I believe in philosophy that there’s any source (where an) individual comes forth (...), then it could be individuals or groups that are talking to us from any source.

I’m not limiting our growth on the basis of any source.

Not that mergers are off limits. (But) it is a challenge to have someone exactly at our level, we need to grow this cautiously.

Foreign expansion in 2017

Until 2017 we will not think of starting a foreign office—after 2017, we will see if and when whatever opportunity opens—we want to be in a (foreign) market where we don’t disrupt our relationships with the (local firms), and there are many markets of that type, depending on which one shows the greatest connect and greatest (potential)...

Management structures mimic corporate governance code

There are hugely different structures of management—we’ve turned it around completely.

I am executive chairman, Pallavi (Shroff) is becoming managing partner of Delhi and Gurgaon on a nationwide basis. We are proceeding on the basis of getting two more managing partners one out of Mumbai and one out of Bangalore.

We’ve created a regional managing partner concept—each will be in charge of two business places or centres.

We followed a structure where we’ve created a managing board where two Shroffs (will be there).

Pallavi as regional managing partner (and) two non-Shroffs: Gunjan Shah and Jatin Aneja.

M. Damodaran already on the board as an independent member. He was the chairman of Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India)—wrote the corporate governance code. (We are) in search of two more independent people – possibly one woman independent director.

Structurally mimicked it (the board) as per the code of corporate governance—one third of management board should be independent.

(We have) three independent non-lawyers (and) four non-Shroffs—being Gunjan, Jatin plus two non-Shroff regional managing partners, together with Pallavi and myself (we’ll have) a nine-member board.

Below that is the operations committee, which would be be comprised of the three regional managing partners, the COO (chief operating officer), the CFO (chief financial officer) together with National Practice Group Heads. This committee will be month-to-month every month and look at all operational bits.


Moving our formulation on a group basis - and there’ll be national heads of practice groups. These are effectively groups rather than committees—where there’ll be a national group, and will be territory-less—it’s not regional or territorial.

Focus on the ability to service clients across geographies with a sense of excellence, the best man for the best job—connects the firm much better than going down the territorial route. It brings people together.

Succession planning

We have put our succession in practice—already moved to a situation where we have non-Shroffs in positions of management—in positions of being managing partners. We’ve sort of kept the structure of having an independent board and we’re (the Shroffs are) positioned in a minority on the board.

(As executive chairman I’ll be) looking at innovation, client reach—my role will be different.

Equity partnership will be fairly similar

Equity is still a modified lockstep model - which I think the firm and partners have comfort with. Because of their consent we’ve stuck to modified lockstep model, though we’ve made certain changes. We are making changes at that level which are below the partnership.

Gender diversity and the new firm’s logo

It is a symbol of diversity—because we’ve practised gender and cultural diversity, had an equal proportion of men and women at every level, and followed principles of women empowerment and non-discrimination having lawyers of every race, religion and creed.

Competition between Cyril and Shardul Amarchand?

We are competitors—when we start new firms obviously we are not carving the market in an anti-competitive way. We are true competitors and don’t have any bilateral non-poaching.

Mediation and lessons learnt

I’m am extremely delighted the way the mediation has gone, I owe a deep sense of gratitude to each of the mediators in hearing us, giving us solutions, going back and forth on many ideas, so we owe a huge debt to the three mediators who’ve spent too much time and energy of their own resolving what could be an ugly litigation.

Yes, there are lessons to be learnt and the lesson we’ve derived is quality management—the governance framework—that has been the most appealing to me. There are governance rights, if you get right approach to responsiveness, the right collaborative model, that enhances the firm and that’s the lesson we have derived from this event.

We are very focused on how we will go about doing it, in terms of organising it.

This article was first published in Mint today. Mint’s association with LegallyIndia.com will bring you regular insight and analysis of major developments in law and the legal world.

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