Sandip Bhagat explains why S&R has not hired any partners from outside since starting more than 10 years agoSandip Bhagat explains why S&R has not hired any partners from outside since starting more than 10 years ago

S&R Associates has grown its partnership ranks for the first time by lateral hire, with A&M Law Offices co-founding partners Sanjeev Adlakha and Viral Mehta joining the firm as consultant and partner respectively.

From 1 March, Adlakha has been based in Delhi with three associates, while Mehta and one associate had joined the firm’s Mumbai office.

S&R managing partner Sandip Bhagat confirmed their joining and commented: “We’ve known them for some time - we all used to work together at Pathak [& Associates].”

Adlakha and Mehta focus on M&A, corporate, private equity and venture capital work, said Bhagat. “It’s a fit with us in that sense. These are people we know and like and have worked with in the past.”

A&M was started by Adlakha and Mehta in 2007 after several years at P&A Law Offices (whose managing partner is Anand Pathak). We have reached out to them for comment.

S&R Associates was set up only two years before that, in 2005, by Bhagat and Rajat Sethi, who had also peeled off from P&A after working there for several years.

Adlakha is a 1995 Delhi University law graduates, with an LLM from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Mehta is a 1998 GLC Mumbai graduates with an LLM from Harvard University from 2000, when he joined P&A.

Bhagat added: “I think it’s an excellent fit and strengthens our value proposition, which we believe in.”

The A&M team includes Mumbai associate Prachi Goel (Delhi University 2007), and Delhi associates Kanika Khanna (ILS Pune 2009), Kinnari Sanghvi (Symbiosis Pune 2009) and Akriti Gandotra (DU 2009).


Bhagat also confirmed that A&M joining the S&R fold was indeed the firm’s very first partner lateral hire.

While UK firms such as Slaughter and May had been famous for never having hired a lateral partner in its very long history (until February 2017, that is), not making any lateral partners hires is rather rare (if not unheard of) at most younger Indian firms of a certain size too.

S&R after the hires will stand at 13 partners, 1 counsel and 1 consultant, and around 65 fee-earners in total, said Bhagat.

Explaining the lack of laterals, Bhagat said: “We’ve had a fairly good depth of associates here in the firm and we regularly promoted those within the firm.

“Even if you look at our record, last year we promoted three of them [new partners], two of them started their careers with us and did their LLMs abroad. One of them was with us for five to six years.”

While not hiring lateral partners can be less risky, particularly from a cultural perspective, save on recruiter fees, and capitalise what are often intended to be long-haul investments in associates, Bhagat claims that it wasn’t necessarily deliberate.

“It’s not been any particular decision that we should not hire. It’s just that now we’ve just felt that internal pool talent has been good.”

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Like +1 Object -0 HI 08 Mar 17, 21:27
What's happening to P&A, any clue?
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Like +2 Object -0 ex-P&A 08 Mar 17, 23:13
Jones Day sued Pathak .. its downfall began 2014-15
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Like +0 Object -0 HI 09 Mar 17, 02:23
But its still in business. Not doing any deals I guess. maybe a one man show - A. Pathak.
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Like +0 Object -0 Insider 08 Mar 17, 21:55
Please correct the first paragraph - should read "consultant and partner respectively"
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 08 Mar 17, 22:02
Many thanks, indeed!
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Like +3 Object -0 Dazed and Confused 09 Mar 17, 12:20
I've been silent for some time but have returned on a matter of importance - the use of the odious term "peel off" to describe persons who leave one firm to begin another.

Is it a Brit thing, Kian? It has a grimy, sweaty sound, like you were separating yourself from the bunch crammed into a Mumbai local, where you're stuck to your neighbors through perspiration and the inexplicable adhesion of polyester to cotton. You make your initial movement to the bogey door but for that first split second you are affixed to another human being through sweat and scent until - through revulsion and physics - you "peel off" to freedom and fresher air.
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Like +2 Object -0 kianganz 09 Mar 17, 12:47
I agree, the phrase has definite manky undertones, but isn't that also an apt description of most peel offs? The peelee firm often tries to desperately prevent the leaving of peelers (?), with an ineffective adhesive that usually amounts to little more than sweat, blood and sometimes a bit of spit and elbow grease.

Due to this makeshift approach, once they've made up their minds, it nevertheless takes the peeler at least several months, if not years, to gently peel themselves off without leaving a mess behind.

So yes, it might be a distasteful process, but the great David Attenborough would agree, we should not shy away from documenting and describing nature because of some human mindset of squeamishness.

Anyway, all that said, it is not a Britishism, I think, but was coined by Indiana professor Jay Krishnan:

I loved the idea that someone was documenting what was happening during the start-up crazy latter noughties, so I've tried (maybe in vain) for the last few years to make peel off stick... (apologies for the terrible puns and metaphors all around)
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Like +1 Object -0 Dazed and Confused 13 Mar 17, 16:59
God, let's come up with something better. Calling a vegetable patty a "cutlet" is abomination enough. Prof. Krishna hasn't lived or practiced in India, so we can't blame or expect much from him for appropriate nomenclature.

Other commentators on this site have over the years have noted to the unfairness of perpetually tagging an entrepreneurial lawyer with being a "peel-off" of his prior employer or partners. The habit has a whiff of casteism about it, as if one can never truly re-invent yourself.

It's certainly different in the litigation field, where your senior is still your senior for (hopefully) very long and beneficial purposes, such as buying your coat when you become a senior yourself, and at least picking up the stray bar tab now and then. Ask any peeloff from the Shroffs how many bar tabs the Bros have picked up once they fled the happy confines.

Let's opt rather for "startup" or "new venture." Intel is not a peeloff of Fairchld Semiconductor simply because Robert Noyce left one to start the other. Let's encourage people to strike out into the darkness and make their own futures. For stylebook purposes, you could call a new firm a "breakaway" for the first six months if the number of partners or employees leaving the old firm is sizable or otherwise significant. The new venture is a start-up from Day One. A firm where one relation breaks away from another could call for a modified description, as in CAM and SAM. But enough of "peel off". Everyone starts somewhere, and they are entitled to their own future and a more mellifluous appellation that allows them a new beginning forged on their own merits. Let the timid make fun (I think there's a comment like "one man show" to describe this gentleman's efforts), let their relations suggest they return to the fold of their bigger progenitor. Let Legally India encourage growth and boldness. Take "peel off" out back the shed and put a much needed bullet in its head. Let us no more hear of someone's past, but contemplate and celebrate her future.
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Like +2 Object -0 Bhakta 09 Mar 17, 13:19
Wasn't that lateral or was that circular?
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 09 Mar 17, 16:02
Bhakta had joined as an Associate and later promoted to Partnership
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Like +5 Object -0 gah 09 Mar 17, 14:55  interesting
Bhakta has layers. he is very deep.
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Like +0 Object -0 alias 09 Mar 17, 18:03
why are you trashing him
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 09 Mar 17, 18:09
Is there trashing going on? If there's trashing, please let me know, I'll intervene.
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Like +0 Object -0 Curious cat 20 Mar 17, 13:31
Interesting comment in 1.1 -- what did Jones Day sue P&A for ? Curious
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