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Dua and Tatva speak out about break-up, confirm 50 leavers

Iceberg: Dua breakaway complete
Iceberg: Dua breakaway complete

Dua Associates has circulated a statement to members of the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) after 41 Dua lawyers and nine partners are now confirmed to have joined breakaway firm Tatva Legal. Tatva has also responded with its first public statement.

"We are writing to update you on some recent developments at Dua Associates," reads Dua Associates' statement. "Dua Associates as you know has a full service presence across the country – unique as one cohesive partnership, professionally-managed by an Executive Committee."

"In December 2009 our firm called an Executive Committee and Partners’ Meeting as a result of which Shishir Sharma, Shailendra Komatreddy and N.K. Dilip along with their teams have ceased to be with Dua Associates effective January 1, 2010."

Dua's emailed letter also mentions the firm's recent partner hires and opening of a Singapore office, as Legally India reported last week. [Click here for Dua's full statement.]

By Tuesday of last week, 30 lawyers had officially resigned and broken away from three Dua offices to set up Tatva under the leadership of senior Dua partner Shishir Sharma.

A total of 50 lawyers have now formally handed in their Dua resignations, as both firms have now confirmed.

Reading a prepared statement from Tatva's partnership, Sharma told Legally India: "Tatva Legal started operations on 1 January 2010 and comprises of, amongst others, a group of 50 lawyers including nine partners who moved out from Dua Associates."

"Tatva Legal would be a full service firm and has offices in New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai."

He said that the following nine partners had left Dua and had joined Tatva as partners or of counsel: Sharma himself, Hyderabad head Shailendra Komatreddy, Bangalore head NK Dilip, T Srinivasa Murthy, Manoj Menon, Ekta Bahl, Manav Nagraj, Avinash Mody and Simran Lakhwinder Singh.

Sharma, Komatreddy, Dilip, Murthy and Menon were equity partners at Dua, while the remaining four were Dua salaried partners.

Sharma had been at Dua Associates for 14 years with a short break at another firm. He added: "The Tatva Legal team is indebted to Dua Associates not only for the amicable manner in which the transition process post their exit has been implemented but also for the amazing platform for growth it has and continues to afford to legal professionals in India.

"Most of us have spent our formative years in Dua Associates and we would continue to look up to Mr Dua and Dua Associates for their support and guidance."

The start-up firm is also in the process of hiring around 15 lateral associates. It will open an office in Mumbai in due course, in addition to its legacy Dua Associates presence in Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Tatva's total size including lateral hires is currently around 60 lawyers, with Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad each consisting of between 15 to 20 lawyers.

The firm's Mumbai office is around five lawyers strong, of whom two are from Dua with the rest being lateral hires. The firm is looking at a presence of 15 lawyers in Mumbai within six months.

According to a source close to the firm, Tatva will not work on a lockstep partnership model but intends to create a "professional" all-equity partnership.

SILF chairman Lalit Bhasin said that there was no direct SILF involvement in the matter. "SILF treats these things - this attrition and people going and coming - as internal matters of the law firms."

Photo by Molechaser

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