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InLegal 50: The Busiest Corporate Law Firms

published:

Analysing law firm deal flows yields interesting results
Analysing law firm deal flows yields interesting results

The proof of most things lies in the pudding, and for a good corporate lawyer, your pudding begins and ends with the kind of work that clients entrust you with.

In evaluating the performance of corporate law firms, a good picture can therefore be painted by the number of deals a law firm and its lawyers have acted on per year, coupled with the size of those deals.

Deal size is often a useful yardstick about the quality and depth of advice that a firm can offer at the top tier. Most companies looking to spend hundreds of crores on their latest acquisition or investment, are sophisticated consumers of legal services and will be keen to ensure they get the best legal advice. Repeat business from such clients should count, at least in part, as a seal of approval of a firm’s service levels (though the larger firms’ greater headcounts do give them an inherent advantage there, purely in terms of volume and the types of deals their bench can handle by throwing fee-earners at a transaction). That is not to say that good service does not exist amongst the mid-tier and smaller deals (though, by some accounts, quality there can vary more widely).

But the absolute aggregate values of deals done by each firm – so preferred by most legal league tables – does not paint a terribly useful picture. Should a $4bn deal really be twice as ‘valuable’ to a law firm as a $2bn deal? By this yardstick, a single giant deal can distort the statistics, without the fees, complexity or the work involved necessarily being proportional.

Which is why, after many conversations with leading corporate lawyers, the InLegal 50 classifies corporate M&A and private equity/VC deals by value into Big Deals above $50m and Mid-Cap deals below $50m.

In terms of fundamental complexity, there is not necessarily a difference between a $200m deal or a $1bn deal, though the billion dollar club nearly always brings with it a certain prestige.

A $1bn+ deal is “typically a lot more high profile, and it involves clients who have the kind of war chest to write a check of a billion dollars”, explains one corporate partner who has acted on their share of such deals. “It is a lot more cross border, a lot more parties are involved, there is more than one accounting firm and financial adviser. And at some level, the sophistication of the client involved is a notch above [lower value deals].”

Money matters

The other side of the coin, which is not often talked about, is in the money. There is not a lot of transparency on how much corporate lawyers charge in India, and only few law firms regularly follow a billable hours model.

One partner says that even estimating ballpark fees across the market is “impossible” – “every lawyer/firm charges differently”.

That said, there are ranges. The mega deals can see lawyers bill crores of Rupees: one partner says Rs 3 to 4 crores ($430,000 to $575,000) fees are average for top tier deals of at least $100m to $150m of investment.

“For big M&A, it is a function of time and complexity and, more often, [the] fixed fees model does not work,” explains a partner. “The fees may reach the crore figure basis [from] the hourly rates and the client then asks for some volume discount.”

Fees drop rapidly for smaller M&A deals at around the $10m mark, which can see billings ranging from Rs 10 to 25 lakh according to several top corporate partners.

For deals that are on the everyday venture capital (VC) or early seed-round spectrum, those fees could be anything from Rs 2 to 10 lakh, depending on the firm.

“I think it’s kind of an open secret that VC work isn’t the most lucrative unless you’re doing volumes of work, and that’s what everyone tries to do,” explains one specialist VC partner.

Pipeline strategies

But some of that early-stage funding work by lawyers can also lead VC-focused law firms into more significant later-series investment rounds, where fees can pick up.

Advising start-ups in early stages also commands lower fees but it also increases the likelihood of being involved in those same investors’ future exits.

In other years with more liquid capital markets, law firms’ work-progression pipeline for such clients would have inexorably led towards an initial public offering (IPO). In the high times, this would have been of benefit to the firms that have large capital markets practices, of which there are only a small handful (see section on capital markets below).

And so, in the last financial year, most such major exits took place via M&A, but here too there is no guarantee for a mid-market or even top-tier firm that another firm won’t come along and snatch the most lucrative mandate at the final stage, client loyalty for taking a haircut in the early days be damned.

In any case, trying to capitalise on the booming start-up sector, particularly in techy cities such as Bangalore, remains a key and powerful component of most top firms’ strategy. The full-service firms that have the width to continue offering services from birth, to adolescence and to adulthood (and eventual death) of a company, are best-placed there.

On the other side of the spectrum, a few of the larger multi-national private equity houses pay their advisers well enough to make the funds practice lucrative outright (though most of the Marquee Firms have firmly parked themselves in that space).

A similar international dimension applies for nearly all deals, of course: while domestic clients have been driving fees down, foreign and multinational clients will often be happy to pay double the local fees, after conversion from US Dollars.

In short, corporate, PE and VC practices often have very different profiles and profitability, but they also go together like peanut butter and jelly. Most top corporate lawyers and firms therefore have corporate, funds and start-up clients in their strategic corporate mix.

How the data was crunched

With a number of charts, described over the following pages, we have attempted to provide the most visual overview possible of the large swathe of data collated.

Our submissions process has been open throughout the last year (without charging any fees to participate or giving preferential treatment), and our methodology has been shared transparently, though these are a work-in-progress and will continue to be fine-tuned based on market feedback.

Some points to note about the deals that have been captured:

  • Deal dates are generally the earlier of the first media report of a deal or the public announcement date, if available.
  • Deals must have been publicly disclosed in a company press release or reported in the mainstream media, with deal values generally tracked from those deal reports (or provided a client has given permission for the deal value to be disclosed).
  • Deal values reflect the consideration or investment made, in US Dollars, as publicly disclosed or reported. Deal values are only included for deals that i) primarily took place in India, or ii) involved an Indian entity as the main target, acquirer or seller, or iii) where the deal value for the Indian leg of the transaction has been disclosed separately.

Corporate M&A deals

  1. These include all transactions where there is: (a) change of control of the business, or (b) strategic minority investment by a non-private equity or venture capital business.
  2. Internal corporate restructurings, share buybacks and similar transactions are excluded.
  3. Minority purchases of less than 25% of publicly-traded shares are excluded.
  4. Sales or PE investments in projects where the predominant underlying assets are roads or real estate, are currently excluded, even if they took place via M&A.

PE/VC deals

All private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) investments in Indian companies or by Indian funds are included, provided they meet the above publicity requirements.

The Marquee Corporate Firms

The biggest beneficiaries of the 2018-19 flurry of M&A and investment are revealed in our analysis of the differing practice profiles of domestic law firms, which allows for an objective grouping into different market segments.

We have identified seven Marquee Corporate Firms from the data, which stand clearly apart in the Indian corporate market from the rest by most metrics. In alphabetical order, the Marquee Corporate Firms are AZB & Partners, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM), Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM), J Sagar Associates (JSA), Khaitan & Co, L&L Partners (formerly Luthra & Luthra) and Trilegal.

But as the charts below demonstrate, they are involved in a majority of India’s largest corporate transactional mandates, across the mega deals ($1bn+), huge ($200m+) and large ($50m) segments of deal sizes.

The Marquee Corporate Firms’ domination also extends beyond the top bracket of work: the seven have snapped up a major market share in the Mid-Cap Deals segment of up-to-$50m (and in a huge number of deals without disclosed deal values, also including major international deals where an India component could not be separately valued, though that could also be chalked up to more effective submissions than the other firms).

While we are not explicitly ranking firms within each market segment, one of the seven Marquee Corporate Firms would be an easy pick for a possible winner: AZB was ahead of the others by a very short country mile in the previous financial year on all significant metrics (see profile below).

Purely by its corporate deals practice profile over the last year, SAM was arguably ahead of the four nearest competitors by a whisker, in terms of its absolute corporate deal value, its heavy push in the insolvency space, its exposure to the largest deals and its very strong pipeline in the Mid-Cap segment (see below).

On the numbers alone, there is very little to tell apart CAM, L&L and JSA. CAM had slightly higher top-tier deal volumes than L&L and JSA but the latter two made that up with greater Mid-Cap activity; CAM and L&L, meanwhile, had greater exposure in the top-tier insolvency space than JSA.

Khaitan & Co had lagged slightly behind the others in absolute deal counts, though it’s not by a huge margin.

However, Trilegal, while undoubtedly having the size, headcounts and reputation to be widely perceived as a Marquee Corporate Firm, has comparatively under-performed in the last fiscal year, according to reported deal counts and values, and just barely managed to scrape into the Marquee Corporate Firms tier.

The Corporate Core

One-stop overview chart of all deals
One-stop overview chart of all deals

The Marquee Firms’ corporate departments form the core around which other practices are built, and for the first time, our data allows us to estimate the real-world corporate bench strength of each of these.

By tallying the number of distinct individual partners who have led on firms’ transactions (”Lead Partners”) over the last year, we have arrived at a near-objective figure of transactional corporate leadership bandwidth that a firm can offer, as well as a rough estimate of how central the Marquee Firms’ corporate practice is to their business.

The hard core of each of the Marquee Firms’ senior lead corporate partners, makes up between 16% to 33% of the total partnership size.

The 33% figure for AZB confirms how heavily M&A and corporate transactions are embedded in the firm’s DNA. Slicing the information a different way, by adding up the total number of separate partners across practice areas who have been credited in deals, at least 70 of the AZB’s 105 partners (67%) have been pulled into at least one corporate deal of the firm (do note that these stats depend on how many partners a firm credits in its press releases, which varies).

JSA has a similarly high ratio of its 28 core corporate partners to the rest of its partnership, at 32%, with a total of at least 59 partners (68% of totals) having acted on one corporate deal or another.

In what could be a coincidence but could also be a sign of both firms’ common ancestry and long-honed similar strategies about how to conquer the Indian legal market, CAM and SAM lie precisely in the middle, together, respectively with 22% and 21% ratios of core senior corporate partners to their overall partnership (CAM has 29 total core corporate to SAM’s 24).

At CAM, 73 partners across practice areas have been involved in corporate deals (around 55% of the total partnership). At SAM that figure was 63 partners, or 54%.

At L&L there are 20 lead corporate partners, making up 27% of its total partnership, with 34 total partners credited on deals (47% of the total partnership).

Trilegal has reported 10 lead partners out of a total partnership of 50 (20%), with corporate transactions having employed at least 15 partners at the firm (or 30%). Part of that lower figure may have to do with not reporting full teams that appear as well as its smaller all-equity partnership than the others, which relies heavily on its sizeable counsel and more senior associate ranks to do the heavy lifting on deals (when including lawyers with the counsel designation in the total count of partners involved, Trilegal’s tally increases to 21). Nevertheless, purely by the data, this suggests that Trilegal’s corporate practice is not as core to the firm as at others.

Khaitan & Co is another interesting outlier. While 25 distinct partners have led one corporate transaction or another at the firm, they make up only 16% of its total partnership of 152 (though a total of 49 partners have been credited for deals at the firm). Khaitan’s website lists its corporate and commercial partnership at 68, far ahead of the next-biggest areas of disputes (35 partners) and capital markets (16 partners). Having the largest partnership in India, coupled with a low partner to associate leverage ratio of only 2.8, suggests that corporate teams at Khaitan are fairly centralised around the more senior partners who bring clients to the table for the more junior salaried partners.

Notwithstanding the above differences, the seven Marquee Corporate Firms profiled on the following pages are all the top of the corporate game, and share the distinction amongst the corporate full service firms of being the biggest and amongst the most-preferred by top clients. In short, they have more in common with each other than what divides them.

To reiterate, our categorisation of Marquee Corporate Firms is not intended to be a static one, but to be fluid and open to other firms that differentiate themselves from the rest of the market in coming years by virtue of their objective size and deal flows.

Another interesting way of slicing the deals activity
Another interesting way of slicing the deals activity

The listing

AZB & Partners

Offices
Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

106394303.1363118
(headcounts dated 01 April 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

14842,029725282685416

AZB has cemented its reputation as the undisputed corporate transactional powerhouse on pretty much all metrics. With a powerful Mumbai-Delhi axis, a roster of senior and up-and-coming partners with practices that could count as top tier mid-size law firms in their own right (see LI Corporate Dealmakers of the Year, above), and a huge pipeline of Mid-Cap work, it is the corporate firm that will be hard to beat in its current incarnation.

Notably, 16 of its partners leading on deals make it to the top 100 of our Corporate Dealmakers of the Year list (with Mumbai partner Ashwath Rau topping the list by a comfortable margin, and Delhi’s Gautam Saha and Bangalore’s Srinath Dasari both making the top 10). And those numbers don’t even include Zia Mody, who remains a bit of a legend in the corporate M&A space (though clearly more so behind the scenes than in the past, at 88th place amongst our Dealmakers).

In short, the breadth of AZB’s senior corporate bench has to be one of the biggest testaments to its ability to walk the talk when delivering on top corporate transactions.

At least 31 of the firms’ deals involved purchases or investments of more than $200m, while another 28 deals had values of between $50m and $200m.

AZB is also hugely active in the smaller- and mid-market segment of corporate deals, with 33 deals below the $50m mark. Coupled with 53 reported deals without disclosed values or without a quantifiable India element, its total deal count is nearly 50% ahead of SAM’s.

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

11779435523.7232110
(headcounts dated 07 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

10154,26810161428825

Traditionally Delhi-headquartered Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas has managed to do what some thought was impossible, by building a strong Mumbai office from scratch, under corporate partners Akshay Chudasama (formerly at JSA) and Raghubir Menon (a nearly-homegrown Amarchand partner, and ranked second in our list of Corporate Dealmakers). In short, SAM is now very much a fixture in the highly-competitive Mumbai market, where its partners are now generating a solid chunk of the firm’s corporate transaction revenue.

Delhi too has built upon its legacy corporate strength by integrating lateral partners such as Amit Khansaheb (ranked 6th in our Dealmakers table). Nine SAM partners are part of our top 100 Dealmakers list.

That said, top Delhi corporate partner Akila Agrawal (ranked 43rd in the top 100) has joined arch-rival CAM in August 2018; and seventh-ranked Siddharth Nair, in Bangalore, is set to leave the firm in the coming months, which, if the whispers in the market are to be believed, has set off a hunt for a local replacement.

SAM has also stolen a tiny bit of a march on its rivals in the insolvency space, under the leadership of executive chairman Shardul Shroff, with seven mostly big-ticket mandates. Coupled with its top-tier competition practice, it’s a solid base for more future M&A.

If the SAM ship continues to remain steady, it’s in for a good year.

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas

Total

Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

1327374.6282210
(headcounts dated 31 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

7347,202101012145224

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, under the inimitable stewardship of managing partner Cyril Shroff, has remained a corporate (and full-service) powerhouse, of course.

Besides at least 20 deals with values of more than $200m (half of which were above the $1bn mark), the firm has also kept a toe in the simmering insolvency game, particularly with mandates for committees of creditors (at least three, capitalising on the firm’s strong relationships with banks) and at least one mandate for the resolution professional.

Shroff himself is the highest-ranked CAM partner in our top 100 Corporate Dealmakers, which reflects his market standing.

Other partners in the top 100 include Mumbai’s Vandana Sekhri (40th), the aforementioned Akila Agrawal in Delhi (50th), Reeba Chacko in Bangalore (55th) and L Viswanathan in Mumbai (67th).

No one would question that CAM continues to have major corporate clout in the Mumbai market. And while CAM’s partnership game is strong in Bangalore (the city provided nearly half of the firm’s top 100 Dealmaker partners), Delhi is a different story. Besides Agrawal (whose tally also includes some work at SAM), not another Delhi partner has reported a sufficient number of deals to make it into the top 100 Dealmakers cut-off. That said, CAM’s Delhi office has steadied somewhat, having faced massive departures over the last few years (after massive initial hirings). And there is probably enough work from the other two cities to keep the office busy, despite it having grown in size considerably.

But without more rainmakers in Delhi, it will become harder in the coming years for CAM to out-compete other Marquee Firms.

L&L Partners

Offices
New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

73133223.420178
(headcounts dated 30 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

6328,73210572121812

L&L Partners, formerly known as Luthra & Luthra, has had a killer year of M&A and funds work, with 15 deals with values above $200m, as well as 21 deals in the $10m – $50m segment. In addition, it has successfully led an early gambit to corner the high-end insolvency market (alongside SAM), making up the six largest $1bn+ M&A deals in its kitty.

With a total of 20 of its partners having led on transactions in the last year, there’s a solid bench there, even if that number is smaller than the other Marquee Firms (in part due to a string of partner-level departures from its corporate practice).

The firm has eight partners in our top 100 Dealmakers of the Year list and those partners do punch above their weight. Bikash Jhawar (ranked 9th) has probably led on as many big-ticket insolvencies as any other in India, and corporate partners William Vivian John, Sundeep Dudeja and Deepak THM are all in the top 40.

The departure of 10th-ranked Amit Shetye would be a loss for the firm after he joined US fund GIP, though some work from there will flow L&L’s way in the coming year, no doubt.

L&L has built a solid high-end corporate practice, in line with its declared strategic shift in 2013 to focus on more high-end corporate work. But with existing corporate partners presumably already working at near maximum-capacity, the only way it can grow its corporate footprint to keep up with rivals will be to add (and retain) more partners on the corporate side.

J Sagar Associates (JSA)

Offices
Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurugram, GIFT IFSC, Hyderbad, Mumbai, New Delhi

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

8752193002.4271817
(headcounts dated 02 May 2018)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

6128,4265611206134

J Sagar Associates (JSA) has had superbly strong year with a respectable number of high-value mandates (10 deals above $200m) and similar figures across market segments. On top of that, it probably has the widest and most balanced roster of corporate lead partners alongside AZB: 28 partners out of 87 (32% compared to AZB’s 33%) had led on at least one corporate transactions in the last financial, of whom eight are in the top 100 of Corporate Dealmakers. Amongst those, Gurgaon-based partner Lalit Kumar has led on seven deals in 27th position. And inside the top 50, with five deals each, are Gurgaon’s Sidharrth Shankar, Bangalore’s Probir Roy Chowdhury, Gurgaon’s Upendra Nath Sharma, and Bangalore-based co-managing partner Vivek K Chandy.

This split is a sign of a very well-balanced firm without any obvious single rainmakers overshadowing the others. In part this is likely a function of the collegiate and collaborative partnership atmosphere on which JSA prides itself. It’s also likely a symptom of its flatter partnership structure: its partner to fee-earner leverage of 2.4 is the lowest amongst the Marquee Firms, meaning that each partner generally has a smaller team to keep busy and fed (though it’s worth noting that the gearing ratio increases to more than 7 when considering the smaller equity partnership of 35).

Its equation certainly seems to be working for JSA and has proved pretty stable for the most part. Whether this system can nurture stand-out rainmakers and keep them happy, in the long term, though, is a more complicated question.

Khaitan & Co

Offices
Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

15236135782.8262210
(headcounts dated 05 April 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

6225,3914107146215

Khaitan & Co has an enviable list of Indian Blue Chips as clients, and a strong line-up of 25 corporate lead partners. However, only five feature in the top 100 of Corporate Dealmakers. Chief amongst these, ranked 28th, is Haigreve Khaitan, the de facto Mumbai-based managing partner of the firm, who has led on seven deals worth $4.3bn in the last financial. Mumbai partner Vineet Shingal sits in 30th place having led on 6 deals; between 69th position and 90th are Mumbai partners Akhil Bhatnagar, Niren Patel and Aakash Choubey (who has two deals, valued at $2.3bn, with client Temasek).

The prevalance of Mumbai partners is not unexpected: Mumbai was the driver which grew the firm from Rs 11 crore Kolkata-era revenues in 2002, to upwards of Rs 610 crores in 2018-19, as we had reported recently. But it’s also a weakness compared to other firms which can tap the non-Mumbai market for lucrative corporate mandates more effectively.

That said, Bangalore has in recent years entered more strongly into Khaitan’s corporate mix, with partner Ganesh Prasad, for instance, having led for the firm in the Flipkart mandate in its $16bn sale.

But the firm needs to work on expanding its senior corporate bandwidth.

And Khaitan & Co’s reliance on Haigreve Khaitan as its main dealmaker can be both its weakness and its strength: he is well-known in the market for being happy to share, both clients and profits, but that arguably also gives a lower incentive for other corporate partners to go out and win new work.

Trilegal

Offices
Mumbai, New Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

50935061085
(headcounts dated 17 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

2926,6997724451

Trilegal is the youngest of the Marquee Firms and also the one with the smallest partnership headcount – not surprising, considering it runs an all-equity model – but with an overall fee-earner headcount that is larger than JSA’s. Its leverage of 6:1 fee-earners per partner therefore appears to be higher than the other Marquee Firms’, but that’s not necessarily a fair comparison to make since it’s the only Marquee Firm that doesn’t have a salaried partner tier.

Trilegal is in Marquee Firm territory in terms of its size and profile, but it has lagged behind the others in pure corporate power by most metrics. It has 10 separate partners who have led on corporate deals, but only five of its partners made it to the top 100 of our Corporate Dealmakers of the Year list:

  • pureplay corporate partner Charandeep Kaur in 61st place led on four deals for companies;
  • corporate partner Yogesh Singh in 62nd place, led for exiting investor Naspers on the huge Flipkart and a Byju deals.
  • competition partner Nisha Kaur Uberoi in 64th led on three deals, winning the competition piece on $1bn+ mega-mergers that other firms advised on (a significant number of competition mandates had followed her to Trilegal from AZB, including the $2.1bn Schneider sale to L&T, a $1.2bn Ultratech Cement buy, and the $1.2bn GMR Airports deal);
  • Harsh Pais and Sridhar Gorthi each led on two disclosed mandates, ranked 89th and 95th respectively.

Trilegal has racked up 16 deals worth more than $50m, of which seven each are above $200m and $1bn respectively.

That said, without its pureplay competition mandates, Trilegal’s $1bn+ corporate deals tally would have been lower by three, and the Naspers exit from Flipkart made up more than 50% of its total deal values of $27bn.

Despite 29 total deal mandates having been counted, it is possible that its partners are under-reporting their deals or have just been unlucky with some of its bigger mandates having remained confidential last year. An alternative conclusion is that Trilegal’s corporate practice is simply not as strong as the other Marquee Firms’. The 2019-20 financial year will be an interesting one to watch.

Prestige Corporate Firms: Smaller But High-Powered

Picking out the top firms in any market is usually fairly easy; it’s the second layer that is far more tricky to pin down, especially when going purely by hard, objective numbers.

Right behind the Marquee Corporate Firms, a number of mid-size and smaller players have positioned themselves to target fewer but more valuable transactions.

Taking all firms outside of the Marquee that have worked on at least two such deals, yields shortlist of firms that are able to play ball in the Marquee tier and effectively.

These Prestige Corporate Firms usually don’t have the headcounts – both in partnership and total fee-earners – to compete with the Marquee Firms on volume but several manage to get close.

The Big Deals chart above, based on the number of deals above $50m, features four firms that are nipping at the heels of the Marquee Firms for the top mandates. Each of these firms had 10 or more mandates in the top bracket:

  • Nishith Desai Associates (NDA),
  • Veritas Legal,
  • Platinum Partners, and
  • IndusLaw (at the smaller end of the Big Deals segment of $50m to $200m).

In addition, 14 other smaller and mid-size law firms also took home a piece of the Big Deals pie. The following had smaller deal volumes but enough Big Deals to regularly find themselves opposite the Marquee Firms.

  • Link Legal India Law Services (LLILS),
  • Desai & Diwanji,
  • Argus Partners,
  • Themis Associates, and
  • S&R Associates.

The following firms also scored large mandates but a smaller number with reported Big Deal values:

  • DSK Legal,
  • Economic Laws Practice (ELP),
  • Samvad Partners,
  • Indian Law Partners (ILP),
  • Jerome Merchant + Partners,
  • Vaish Associates,
  • Rajaram Legal,
  • Wadia Ghandy,
  • Crawford Bayley, and
  • KT Advisors

Nishith Desai Associates

Offices
Mumbai, Bangalore, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Munich, Mumbai-BKC, New Delhi and New York.

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

3610811.3857
(headcounts dated 13 April 2018)
M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

2418,9474336262

NDA’s position – with 10 Big Deal mandates on its plate – is easily explained by its top-tier funds and fund formation practice, which means it was found on a wide cross-section of big ticket investor exits. Funds clients such as Providence, GIC, Madison Capital, Naspers and many others, ensured a steady top-tier deal participation for the firm. With 36 partners (or leaders, as the firm calls them) and only 81 fee-earners, NDA operates at one of the lowest partner to fee-earner leverage ratios in the market, of only 1.3. Only several much smaller boutiques even come close to that figure. With that kind of gearing, it makes sense for NDA to chase the high-value work.

Two of NDA’s leaders are in the list of top 100 Dealmakers of the Year: Vaibhav Parikh (42nd place with four leading mandates) and Nishchal Joshipura (66th, with three deals).

Veritas Legal

Offices
Mumbai

Total

Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

7455.4443
(headcounts dated 21 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

222,81955327

Veritas Legal does best what founding partner Abhijit Joshi has always done when he had been at AZB: corporate and M&A. It has been expanding its disputes offering but out of its seven partners, four have led on corporate transactions, including 10 deals with values above $50m. Alongside fellow top 20 Dealmaker Nandish Vyas, Joshi has built a powerful corporate boutique firm and with strong roster of corporate clients, including Aditya Birla, Hotel Leelaventure, True North, Mayfield, Kedaara Capital and TPG, this looks unlikely to slow down in the coming year.

Platinum Partners

Offices
Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore

Total

Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

9454221
(headcounts dated 02 April 2018)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

137,955341232

Platinum was involved in three reported deals with values above $1bn, four more deals in the $200m+ bracket, and one deal of $50m+. It is another lean firm of only nine partners, with a low leverage ratio of 4.

Platinum’s Ankit Majmudar was the primary powerhouse in Mumbai responsible for 10 of the firm’s 13 recorded transactions, of which he led on nine (partner names were not disclosed on three of the firm’s deals).

A good chunk of its mandates are international, while its domestic clients include Kedaara Capital, Edelweiss, Intelenet (which was bought for $1bn by a French operator) and Star Health.

IndusLaw

Offices
Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

3620121563.3736
(headcounts dated 14 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

361,037712107

Founded in 2000 but turned into a national firm in 2007, for a while, IndusLaw showed potential in quickly becoming the next Trilegal: similarly formed as a non-family outfit of like-minded young lawyers. Indus hasn’t quite managed the transition into the very top tier of work but the firm has been winning its share, primarily in the Mid-Cap segment, as well as seven deals worth $50m to $200m.

Besides VC and funds work, IndusLaw boasts a strong roster of well-known start-up clients (such as techy fitness platforms CureFit and Cult Fit, Toppr and delivery darling Dunzo) and many established companies, as well as start-ups that the firm had nurtured since its early days that have now grown up, such as Wipro, Quikr and Cleartrip.

Partner Gaurav Dani was one of our top 100 Dealmakers with three deals.

With a partnership size of 34, if Indus keeps up its steady growth and momentum in the corporate space and it can hold on to its younger clients transitioning into top-tier M&A work, there is a real possibility for it to join the Marquee Firms.

Link Legal India Law Services (LLILS)

Offices
New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Gurgugram, Hyderabad and Chennai

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

3041805653
(headcounts dated 30 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

232,537131963

Link Legal India Law Services (LLILS) has historically had a strong infrastructure focus, but spearheaded by corporate partner Manish Gupta and four others, the firm has also broken into the corporate space successfully, with a tally of five deals of over $50m. The firm’s marquee deal was its instruction by GMR Airports in the $1.16bn investment by a consortium. Ramky Enviro Engineers went on a $530m M&A, while its client Den Networks was bought by Reliance Jio for $311m.

Link Legal also has strong links to China, assisting Apple-rival Xiaomi on its India investment (and also advising the target, Sharechat, when Shnuwei and Xiaomi invested $100m).

Link Legal’s Mumbai merger in 2017 with DH Law has perhaps not provided the footprint and expansion it expected, but Link Legal has had a strong year, which shows no signs of abating.

Desai & Diwanji

Total

Partners

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

25745
(headcounts dated 10 June 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

221,09924367

Desai & Diwanji has always been a strong Mid-Cap corporate M&A firm with particularly close connections to Mumbai industry and businesses. Although D&D had lost a few core partners over the past years, it has replenished its dealmakers from within its ranks and now boasts four lead corporate partners who advised on five deals above $50m. Of those Siddharth Mody has racked up a deal count of 9, putting him in 16th place in our Dealmakers; partner Aneesh Gupte led on four in 60th place; Shreevardhan Sinha on three. The largest of these was for GIC on its joint $350m investment in Mankind Pharma, followed by Tirumala Milk’s $238m buy of Prabhat Dairy in a slump sale. Its corporate clients also include Archean Chemical Industries, Future Retail, and a good cross-section of investment funds.

At around 25 partners (an estimate, since the firm declined to confirm figures), Desai & Diwanji has the potential to play an increasingly larger role in the M&A game, if it has the ambition to do so.

Argus Partners

Total

Partners

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

18221
(headcounts dated 22 February 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

820,06922121

Argus Partners is a firm whose managing partner, Krishnava Dutt, definitely has ambitions of growth, which he had harboured ever since spinning out of what-was-then Amarchand Mangaldas Kolkata.

Argus has had a record year in terms of large deals and has also aggressively assimilated four lateral partners at the start of this year alone.

Argus stands at 19 total partners now, with Dutt and 2016-lateral partner Siddharth Raja from Samvad leading on half of the firm’s eight recorded corporate deals each. [Update: Raja has left the firm on 28 June 2019].

Dutt in particular, has made a strong play for the insolvency space, most notably getting the nod from Tata Steel to help it buy the distressed Usha Martin steel assets for $633m, and acting on the $420m Monnet Ispat insolvency. In addition, he led for Gruh Finance on its $3bn sale to Bandhan Bank. Raja primarily advises funds and his relationship with TR Capital resulted in Argus also getting briefed in the Flipkart takeover.

This fast-growing firm will be one to watch in the coming years if it can maintain the momentum.

Themis Associates

Offices
Bangalore, Mumbai

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

552366.2424
(headcounts dated 09 January 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

299782213102

Bangalore-based Themis has quietly taken over a huge chunk of Mid-Cap venture capital work, which has occasionally also translated into larger M&A. While it had pretty much started out as an in-house extension of Sequoia Capital – which is still its most consistent client, having used Themis for all but one of the fund’s 16 reported deals (one went to AZB), the firm has grown far beyond that.

Its total deal tally of 27 includes, besides Sequoia, Berkshire Hathaway (which invested $300m in Paytm), Unilever Ventures, Bennett Coleman’s investment arm and Kalaari Capital, and it has also assisting a number of start-ups.

Partner Siddharth Manchanda handled 15 deals for the firm, while partner Amritha Salian led on four.

VC work doesn’t always pay, but when you do enough of it, it can certainly begin to reap rewards.

DSK Legal

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

331451302.9553
(headcounts dated 02 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

114304223

DSK Legal finds itself in an interesting position. It has had a strong year of 11 reported deals, of which four were larger than $50m. The trouble is that five of those deals were led by co-founding partner Satish Kishanchandani and partner Pritha Jha, both of whom have left with their teams to start up Pioneer Legal in May of this year. However, the firm’s largest deal, for JM Financial, which received $122m from Moraine, was led by Mumbai partner Ajay Shaw. Other lead corporate partners remaining at DSK include Mayank Mehta and Niraj Kumar.

DSK too has become a firm with major ambitions though under managing partner Anand Desai: in April, it poached a team of eight partners from HSA Legal, including Mumbai corporate partners Aparajit Bhattacharya and Aninda Pal, Bangalore corporate partner Sharath Chandrasekhar and Delhi corporate partner Devika Chadha.

And though neither of those partners featured in the top 100 list of Corporate Dealmakers, if their clients follow them to DSK and enough new work flows in, DSK could see the size of its corporate practice increase in 2019-20 (though HSA will do what it can do stem that flow).

S&R Associates

Offices
Mumbai, Delhi

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

136805.2664
(headcounts dated 04 June 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

2322,880373101

S&R Associates, while having its roots in capital markets, has managed to carve out a strong M&A offering too in a sensible hedge against a slowing public market: the firm was involved in three mega deals of more than $1bn. Its top clients are Vodafone (which merged its part-owned Indus Towers into Bharti Airtel for $14.6bn) and ArcelorMittal (which bought troubled Essar Steel with Nippon Steel for $7bn). Other corporates include HT Media, Penguin Random House and IndusInd Bank. Any Marquee Firm partner would be happy to add these names to their corporate roster.

Six partners from S&R have led on corporate mandates out of a total partnership size of only 13, with partner Rachael Israel having led on seven of the firm’s 23 deals, putting her 27th in our Top 100 Corporate Dealmakers. Partners Rajath Sethi and Viral Mehta each led on another four deals, while Sanjeev Adlakha advised on three.

Bertelsmann India Investments has been one of the firm’s busiest clients, having instructed S&R on six mandates in 2018-19.

Philosophically, S&R only rarely believes in lateral partner hires (and only rarely loses partners, although in April 2019, Uday Walia had joined Platinum). Slow and steady growth is therefore a good forecast for the firm and it will likely keep picking up high-value mandates where it can (unless it gets distracted by a boom in the capital markets).

Economic Laws Practice (ELP)

Offices
Mumbai, New, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

551882122.9635
(headcounts dated 06 June 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

142,299121371

Economic Laws Practice (ELP) core strength has historically been tax but providing tax advice to corporates can be a great inroad to bagging transactional mandates, if your bench can handle it. ELP’s corporate practice has seven partners who had led on disclosed corporate deals in the last financial year. The largest amongst these by far was its instruction for Larsen & Toubro in the $2.1bn acquisition by Schneider.

The firm also handled two $50m+ deals for Samara Capital and Seven Islands shipping, both on investments. Mayfield is another regular funds client of the firm with three instructions. Darshan Upadhyay is the firm’s busiest partner with three lead mandates (coming 55th in our Dealmakers ranking), while Shyam Pandya worked on three and managing partner Suhail Nathani led on two (including the giant L&T deal).

ELP is another of the younger generation of firms that has 11 equity partners but without a family running the show, and at least on the corporate side it seems to have weathered the departure of several of its senior partners for counsel practice, including former managing partner Rohan Shah in 2016.

Samvad Partners

Offices
Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

149754.4756
(headcounts dated 10 May 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

321,066381110

Samvad is unusual for several reasons. First, at least half of Samvad’s partnership of 14 is involved in corporate work. Second, it has four partners in our Top 100 Corporate Dealmakers. Third, and sadly most notably in a Top 100 that consists primarily of men, all four are women (64% of Samvad’s partnership is female, a higher ratio than any other larger corporate firm in India).

Bangalore-based partners Neela Badami and Ashwini Vittalachar had led on nine and eight deals respectively in the last financial year, making it to 15th and 19th in our list of Dealmakers, in addition to Nivedita Nivargi (five lead deals), and Vineetha MG (four).

The firm has a heavy focus on VC and early-stage corporate work, allowing (and requiring) a high volume of 32 reported deals in 2018-19. That does not translate to low value mandates though. The firm counts flavour-of-the-year start-ups Delhivery, Zomato, Foodpanda and Policybazaar amongst its clients. Delhivery got a funding round of $413m in March 2019, Zomato tapped investors three times, and the latter two, twice.

On the funder side, the firm works with Omidyar Network, ICICI, Fundamentum and others. And nine of its 32 deals were M&A deals.

The question for Samvad will be whether it can hold on to its Unicorns and other start-ups, which will be heavily courted by the Marquee Firms and other Elite Firms.

Indian Law Partners (ILP)

Offices
New Delhi, Mumbai

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

32257.3111
(headcounts dated 28 January 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

74251213

Indian Law Partners (ILP), headed by managing partner Gopika Pant, is one of the few remaining (official) Indian best-friends of an international firm. ILP was set up as Ashurst’s local ally in 2011, by former DSK partner Pant and co-founder Piyoosh Gupta (who has since gone independent).

ILP has three partners now, with Pant having led on all of the firm’s seven reported deals. Clients include Hyundai (which invested $300m into an Ola subsidiary and another electric car company), as well as Avaada Power and other corporates.

Far from being just Ashurst’s local operation, ILP has a strong roster of independent work, with Ashurst only being recorded as having acted on one of those deals (though foreign law firm involvement is often under-reported).

++Jerome Merchant + Partners

Offices
Mumbai

Total

Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

51203424
(headcounts dated 04 June 2018)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

19455310242

Jerome Merchant + Partners was co-founded by former AZB partner Vishnu Jerome in 2012. But, despite the departure of two co-founders, the firm has sustained itself. It was joined by ex-AZB partner Kalpana Merchant in 2015, giving it a new name and has now grown to five partners. While specialising first and foremost in finance, JM+P has built up a very respectable M&A, PE and VC practice with a total of at least 19 recorded deals. Three of those deals had values above $50m, with four of the firm’s five partners having led on at least one deal. Jerome tallied up nine and partner Sameer Sibal led on seven, both hitting the top 26 in our list of Dealmakers.

The firm’s top clients were Centrum Financial Services (which bought a $114m supply-chain business from L&T), and investment fund VH Capital, which instructed the firm on three deals (including in relation to the $100m Sharechat and a $50m round in Meesho). Other clients include tech start-ups Tapzo and SMECorner (which raised two rounds), Evolvence India fund and IIFL.

JM+P doesn’t appear to have ambitions to grow rapidly, but its corporate client base, for one, has grown massively in the last year.

Vaish Associates

Offices
Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

12102926.711
(headcounts dated 12 April 2018)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

42,366211

Vaish Associates, especially well-known for its tax practice, also has a strong corporate practice, anchored by partner Bomi Daruwala. Though it has not actively reported many deals, it cropped up on some of the biggest ticket mandates, including acting for the Tata Group on its $1.2bn buy into GMR Airports, as well as Century Textiles and Industries, which sold its cement business to Ultratech for $1.2bn.

Vaish Associates has not showcased any major ambitions for growth but it remains a firm with a strong and very influential top-tier corporate book.

Rajaram Legal

Total

Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

381.7313
(headcounts dated 28 December 2018)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

1153411621

Rajaram Legal has an interesting story. It was started only in 2016, by former Unilazer Ventures general counsel (GC) Archana Rajaram aiming to act as an extension of VC’s in-house department. Events overtook Rajaram, however, and she pivoted to a law firm boutique model in 2017 and has grown to three partners, each having led on their own deals.

The firm advised on 11 deals, of which nine were in the PE/VC space. Matrix Partners is Rajaram’s most regular VC client with five deals, but the firm also counts several fashionable start-ups as clients: Ridlr, which was bought by Ola for $25m, and meat delivery start-up Licious had seen two funding rounds of $25m each.

Wadia Ghandy

Total

Partners

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

31N/AN/AN/A
(headcounts dated 10 June 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

74611141

Wadia Ghandy & Co was once the great shining example of a Bombay solicitors firm that had managed to move with the times and could worry the larger firms. It has not entirely lived up to that promise, instead having often served as a training ground for the bigger firms to poach from. Nevertheless, WG still retains strong corporate deals activity, despite not having actively submitted any deals to our league tables (perhaps in line with its traditional solicitor-firm roots). Clients include at least one Tata subsidiary, tech personal finance start-up Walnut and an instruction for the target in Adani’s $275m purchase of Marine Infrastructure port, as well as the $100m Symbiotec Pharma deal.

Crawford Bayley

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

23112

Mumbai solicitors firm Crawford Bayley’s glory days may be behind it, but it can still pull in big mandates. The firm acted for Aurangabad Electricals on its $126m sale to Mahindra CIE, as well as for Centrum Group on its $185m by Ebix. Partner Sanjay Asher – previously IPO factory extra-ordinaire – led on both these deals, having clearly turned his hands to M&A while the capital markets were sleeping. Fellow partner Sanjay Buch also has a strong book of M&A work (having acted on several deals, though none qualified under our methodology).

KT Advisors

Offices
Delhi, Bhubaneswar

Total

Partners

Associate Partners

Female Partners

Total

Fee-earners

Partner to Fee-earner Leverage Ratio

All Corporate Lead Partners

M&A Lead Partners

PE/VC Lead Partners

31192111
(headcounts dated 04 June 2019)

M&A + PE/VC table 2018-19

Deal

Count

Deal

Values

($m)

$1bn+

count

$200m+

count

$50m+

count

$10m+

count

<$10m

count

Unknown

values

Foreign

deals

413022

KT Advisors (see box below) was started only in 2016 by former Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas partner Kalpataru Tripathy, and has grown to three partners and a racked up a deal count of four, including two $50m+ deals. One was a $75m fundraise for Fusion Micro Finance, the other a mandate for Singapore fund Lotus One, which invested $55m to distressed Hindusthan National Glass & Industries.

The firm remains lean, with only nine fee-earners but, in line with Tripathy’s long-Amarchand heritage, its regularly on deals opposite the Marquee Firms.

==Corporate Challenger Firms

Mid-Cap M&A activity, which we have defined as publicly disclosed deal values of up to $50m and is reflected in the chart on the opposite page, may not be as glamorous or as lucrative as the Big Deals, but it is essential to a law firm’s balanced practice.

After all, big clients also have small deals they want you to do, small clients may turn into big clients, and sometimes, the smaller deals can also be more interesting to work on, directly involving founders in novel industries requiring novel legal solutions.

Case in point: four of the seven Marquee Firms topped the corporate Mid-Cap deals table for 2018-19, and most of the Prestige Corporate Firms occupy the top spots in the Mid-Cap table too.

Besides the firms already mentioned, we have identified 24 other firms with at least two partners that had visibility in the Mid-Cap deals segment, having had at least two deals with reported values.

This list is naturally going to be somewhat variable - some years smaller firms may have two deals in the public domain, while other years those deals might not get reported or their values might not get disclosed. But, having had at least two deals that were publicly reported with values given in the mainstream press can be a good yardstick and starting point, since it will imply that a firm has a fair amount more high-profile corporate activity.

These firms will be worth watching; a few may drop off this list in coming years, while others may enter the Prestige Corporate Firms segment by next year; and some may already be there, due to under-reporting of activity (some on this list whose deal counts are likely underestimates include Dua Associates, ARA Law, K Law and Tatva Legal, for instance).

The following were the Corporate Challenger Firms in the 2018-19 financial year by Mid-Cap deal-volumes:

  • IC Universal Legal,
  • K Law,
  • MD&T Partners,
  • Legasis Partners,
  • Vertices Partners,
  • Universal Legal Advocates,
  • MNSA Legal,
  • Assentio Legal,
  • Tatva Legal,
  • Rajani Associates,
  • KNM & Partners,
  • Dua Associates,
  • ARA Law,
  • Lex Consult,
  • Talwar Thakore & Associates,
  • HSA Advocates,
  • GameChanger Law Advisors,
  • Spice Route Legal,
  • Samisti Legal,
  • Alpha Partners,
  • LegaLogic Consulting,
  • Mani Chengappa & Mathur (MCM),
  • Bharucha Singh Mundkur,
  • Phoenix Legal.

Legally India's 2019 InLegal 50 Issue

The 2019 print and digital edition of Legally India is a joint publication by Global Legal Media and Legally India. The issue introduces the InLegal 50, which is an annual fully-transparent tracking of India’s corporate law firms. Browse and click through below for more market and legal analysis in this issue.

InLegal 50 Editorial:

Download PDF of issue here

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