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Chennai start-up breaks even after 17 months, opens arbitration centre business, shies away from ‘profit mode’

Joseph: broken even
Joseph: broken even
Exclusive: Chennai Law Associates, which was set up 18 months ago by former Surana & Surana litigator ML Joseph and broken even last month, has moved into larger office and opened an arbitration centre as an additional revenue source.

Chennai Law Associates managing partner ML Joseph said that time had flown since starting in February 2010, as reported by Legally India at the time.

From September the firm would move into new 4,800 square foot full-floor premises at Armenian Street in Chennai, which was very near to the Madras High Court, where it would open a “state-of-the-art” Chennai Centre for Excellence in Arbitration, said Joseph.

He explained that Meera Gupta, who had over 20 years of experience at the bar, had joined the firm as director of the new centre.

“There is no such centre closer to the centre of Madras,” claimed Joseph. “One such is existing in Mylapore, which is around 9 to 10 km from the court. We can provide this hall, facility services and stenographic support so lawyers can get back to court after their arbitration session.

“That will make some additional revenue for us and in longer run clients will get to know what we’re doing.”

Joseph added that whatever investments had been made in setting up the firm had been recouped with the firm having broken even on expenses only last month. “But I don’t want to push into profit mode now, we want to expand the infrastructure first for the next two to three years.”

This would mean gradually building new verticals, such as building expertise in the corporate law space, which would be headed up by Joseph together with a newly hired Nuals Kochi graduate, as well as a practice targeting the Kollywood film industry.

He explained that the equity of the firm was now shared in equal shares between Joseph and fellow partners K. Subashini and Amar Panwar, who specialises in real estate dispute resolution and banking litigation respectively.

Initially Joseph’s wife, who is not a lawyer, had held a small stake in the firm that she relinquished shortly after setting up due to the regulations on law firm ownership, explained Joseph.

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