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Clasis Mumbai projects team breaks away: Ishtiaq Ali, Damodara Rao start own 5-partner firm with ADAG GC [Update-1]

Ishtiaq Al
Ishtiaq Al

Clasis Law project finance partners Ishtiaq Ali and Damodara Rao have left to start their own firm, which is understood to be a five-partner, 10-lawyer start-up law firm.

Update 16:50: Ali commented that the new firm would be called Orbit Law Services.

The other three partners would be former Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) president (legal) / general counsel Venkatarao Ponnada, who was a partner at India Law Services between 2001 and 2004, having first become an advocate in 1978 in Hyderabad.

The other partners are Delhi-based litigation lawyer Saad Shervani and Mumbai-based employment and service matter lawyer Karuna Kumar.

Ali commented: “The partners of Orbit Law Services were looking at undertaking an entrepreneurial initiative focused on the growing opportunities within India due to political and economic developments within the country and India needs more professionally managed law firms to meet the demand of legal services at reasonable cost.”

He added in a press release that the firm would soon convert to a limited liability partnership (LLP) structure to “provide more opportunities to good professional lawyers”.

Clasis Delhi partner Vineet Aneja commented: “We wish only the best for Ishtiaq or any departing partner. A law practice has various components some of which make economic sense outside of a traditional law firm. Mumbai remains an important location for Clasis Law and we will be following through our strategy with appointments in due course of time.”

Ali had joined ALMT Legal in 2010, taking with him one third of project finance boutique India Law Services, later joining Clasis when that broke away from ALMT.

Ali’s and Rao’s departure follows that of London and Mumbai partner Sakate Khaitan and his team to set up their own firm Khaitan Legal Associates last month.

In 2013, Clasis and ALMT co-founder Shalini Agarwal had left to start her own firm.

Updated story with comments and details of other partners from press release.

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