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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, 4255 hours before everyone else got to read it.

Introducing the InLegal 50: Editor’s Note

InLegal 50: A transparent directory of corporate law firm performance
InLegal 50: A transparent directory of corporate law firm performance

A major part of Legally India’s core mission has always been transparency. When we first set up in 2009, the domestic legal market was largely shrouded in secrecy and could be understood only by tapping into an arcane flow of information and rumours spread via professional networks.

I would like to think that LI’s original reporting and analysis has been an instrumental part in shining a light on the corporate legal industry and the wider profession, including litigation and legal education.

The InLegal 50 – India’s first fully-transparent and objective ranking and analysis of the corporate law firm market – is our most ambitious project to date. It has been the work of several years now, and marks a significant evolution of Legally India on its 10th anniversary.

Data-driven intelligence

In much of the work we’ve done, data and information has been a key component, and I believe it to be the one of best antidotes to a widely-perceived lack of trust in the information that pervades the ecosystem, which includes too many paid-for and/or opaque law firm awards, rankings and directories.

The InLegal 50 is therefore an attempt to wipe the slate clean and start from a common, comprehensible and verifiable data-driven baseline.

But the InLegal 50 is not a ranking, in the traditional sense, nor a directory where firms never move between tiers. It is intended to be a living, breathing and dynamic snapshot of the legal market, where segments and classifications are expected to change, year-on-year, depending on firms’ and their partners’ performance.

On the corporate side, it includes data from 582 M&A, private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) deals with a total valuation of $113bn announced from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. This breadth of data has enabled us to produce never-seen-before analysis and classification of the relative M&A strengths of Indian corporate law firms, and allowed us to focus in particular on the individuals that get the deals done.

And while far from every corporate deal has been captured, this is the most representative sampling of deal activity in the Indian market to date (for reference, Thomson Reuters recorded $129bn India M&A deals in 2018).

Our analysis has also yielded an unprecedented listing of the Top 100 Corporate Dealmakers of the Year, giving an insight into the senior corporate bench strength of the top law firms.

Metrics and analysis of the capital markets space also form part of the InLegal 50, which for the first time also tracks the values of IPOs done to provide a fuller picture.

Taking into account the above data points, we have arrived at a clear demarcation of the legal market into Corporate and Capital Markets Marquee Firms, Corporate Prestige Firms and the Corporate Challengers in the M&A, PE and VC space.

And we are only getting started. Several major practice areas are not included in our metrics, such as disputes, infrastructure projects, finance, real estate and competition and commercial work. Going forward, we plan to gradually widen the types of deals we analyse.

We have also only scratched the surface of dispute resolution practices with our analysis on LegallyIndia.com from April 2018 of top Supreme Court law firms, and hope to be doing more to provide visibility on some of the many different courts, tribunals and highly private arbitrations.

Second, the picture captured even by M&A or VC league tables will never be fully complete. Apart from many deals never making it into the public domain (or clients not granting law firms permission to confirm their involvement), some firms are simply better at reporting their deals than others, and some simply don’t feel the need to. While most bigger Indian law firms now have sophisticated business development and communications functions, we have aimed to level the playing field with the InLegal 50, where participation has been open to all with only a minimum of time needed to be spent by busy lawyers and teams.

In light of the above, the InLegal 50 remains deliberately and proudly a work-in-progress, which I foresee will only continue to grow and provide even more valuable insights and benchmarks to clients and lawyers who want to gain a better understanding of the corporate law firm ecosystem they operate in.

I encourage you to track our progress in our live league tables, at www.legallyindia.com/db and I hope you will share your feedback and thoughts any time.

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