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Breaking: JSA elects 2 women, Wadia & Nanda, to jointly lead firm for next 3 years [UPDATE-2]

Wadia (l) and Nanda (r): If 1 in 25 US law firms have female 
managing partners, the odds of 2 female managing partners in a top 200 
US law firm would be far less than 1 in 625 (assuming erroneously that 
all have joint managing partners)
Wadia (l) and Nanda (r): If 1 in 25 US law firms have female managing partners, the odds of 2 female managing partners in a top 200 US law firm would be far less than 1 in 625 (assuming erroneously that all have joint managing partners)

Mumbai-based partner Dina Wadia and Gurgaon-based Shivpriya Nanda have been elected unopposed by the firm’s partnership to become J Sagar Associates (JSA)’s first ever joint managing partners, according to authoritative sources within the firm.

They will officially take over from outgoing managing partner Berjis Desai from 1 January 2016, at which point he’ll take up the mantle of senior partner. Desai is due to retire on 31 March 2017. The contest for the joint managing partner position was between seven new executive committee members (Amit Kapur, Amitabh Kumar, Murali Ananthasivan, Somasekhar Sundaresan, Venkatesh R Prasad and Wadia and Nanda).

However, as predicted by Desai in in July, there was a “good possibility” that there wouldn’t be an election at all after only two candidates would emerge via an informal consensus.

The appointment of two women into a large law firm’s top job is rare, if not unprecedented in an industry globally still dominated by men.

In the US, only 4 per cent of top 200 law firms have had a female managing partner in 2012.

In Singapore, not a single women had headed a law firm until 2010 when Rachel Eng became managing partner of WongPartnership.

We have reached out to Wadia and Nanda for comment.

Update: Desai has now commented: “Our founder Jyoti Sagar and I are delighted that these highly capable ladies were elected unopposed as our new joint managing partners. In a non ownership firm like JSA this is surely an honourable first.”

“JSA continues to walk the talk,” he added.

Update: Editor of London-based legal trade magazine The Lawyer, Catrin Griffiths, commented that English law firm Withers used to have two women in charge - managing director Margaret Robertson and senior partner Diana Parker.

“There is now beginning to be a new generation of female law firm leaders in both mid-sized and global firms,” she said. “The notable exception is the magic circle [of the UK's four largest international firms Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters] which lags behind the rest of the UK legal market on terms of women in leadership roles.”

Click here to read full interview with Desai about the future of the firm without him.

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