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First ever lateral partner joins S&R: Ex-Pathak peel-off duo Sanjeev Adlakha, Viral Mehta & team in 2 cities

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

Rarities

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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