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[UPDATE] For what it’s worth: Chambers law firm rankings shift after Shroff vs Shroff fallout; Khaitan gains, AZB & Amarchands lose

Right, there might only be one way to settle this...
Right, there might only be one way to settle this...

The new report by legal directory Chambers & Partners, which compiles an annual tiered ranking of law firms and partners in various practice areas, has seen Khaitan & Co take the top spot by number of "ranked" lawyers, reported The Economic Times, while AZB & Partners, Khaitan & Co and both erstwhile Amarchand Mangaldas co-managing partner Shroff brothers have lost dominance.

Both Shroff brothers combined, as they were before the break-up of Amarchand Mangaldas into Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas almost a year ago, had ruled the roost across categories in last year’s ranking.

Divided, both firms are still individually in the top five nearly everywhere, but other firms have managed to solidify their existing position, including also J Sagar Associates (JSA).

According to the ET report, which appears to be based on a Chambers press release, AZB’s number of ranked lawyers decreased from 17 to 13 this year, in which partners Kalpana Merchant, Shuva Mandal and Essaji Vahanvati left.

Shardul Amarchand’s lateral hires in the past year seem to have given it a particular boost in the rankings, with Akshay Chudasama and Shuva Mandal both ranked as band 2 in corporate and M&A.

However, the most senior partners at both Shroff firms find band 1 mentions in several practice areas, and according to the ET, the seven lawyers who “received the highest 'star Individual' rating” were Cyril Shroff, Shardul Shroff, AZB Mumbai managing partner Zia Mody, senior counsel Harish Salve, Federal & Rashmikant name partners C Rashmikant and M Federal, and Bharucha & Partners partner MP Bharucha.

The UK-based Chambers directory relies on law firms to prepare detailed submissions on why it or a partner should get ranked in a particular area.

Chambers employs an army of researchers who then contact firms’ client references by either phone or automated email systems to corroborate firms’ and partners’ reputations.

They, as any other ranking, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Update: As pointed out by readers, the rankings have been updated by Chambers yesterday night (4 February), resulting in a few changes.
Any changes in rankings have been reflected in bold italics below.

Individual ranked partners

(according to ET unless otherwise indicated)

Khaitan & Co: 21 ranked individual lawyers

J Sagar Associates (JSA): 19 ranked lawyers

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM): 19 ranked lawyers [confirmed by LI count on website]

Trilegal: 16 ranked lawyers

Cyril Amarchand MangaldasLI counted 15 ranked partners [Update: LI has done a recount on 5 February, and CAM still has 15 ranked partners]

AZB: 13 ranked lawyers (down from 17 last year, according to ET) [Note: Legally India’s independent count of Chambers’ website revealed 14 ranked lawyers for AZB, including partner Essaji Vahanvati who is still listed in corporate and private equity band 1 but who has been on an extended sabbatical from the firm]. [Update: On 5 Februrary, AZB still had 13 ranked lawyers: Vahanvati has left, but Madhurima Mukherjee is now ranked as band 2 in capital markets]

Firm-wide ranks

A sampling of the top few bands in major practice areas for firms, usually out of five bands, reveals that SAM and CAM are both ranked in band 1 for virtually all major categories, except for competition law, where SAM is the only “band 1” ranked firm.

Neither Shroff firm finds mention in band 1 or 2 in tax.

According to the ET report, Luthra & Luthra had the widest number of firm mentions across practice areas, followed by both Shroffs.

  1. Luthra & Luthra: 15 ratings across top three bands
  2. SAM: 14 organisation ratings across top three bands
  3. CAM: 11 ratings

Corporate and M&A

In corporate and M&A across India, Chambers ranked in:

  • Update: Trilegal moved to band 1 for corporate M&A from band 2. Talwar Thakore Associates dropped from 2nd to 3rd band.
  • Band 1: AZB & Partners, Cyril Amarchand, J Sagar Associates (JSA), Khaitan & Co and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas.
  • Band 2: Luthra & Luthra, Platinum Partners, S&R Associates, Talwar Thakore & Associates and Trilegal.

Private equity

  • Update: Trilegal has entered band 1 in private equity. Samvad and Wadia Ghandy have dropped to band 3 from band 2. ALMT, Desai & Diwanji, Majmudar & Partners, dropped to band 4.
  • Band 1: AZB, CAM, JSA, Khaitan & Co, SAM
  • Band 2: Nishith Desai Associates, Samvad Partners, Trilegal, Wadia Ghandy
  • Band 3: ALMT Legal, Desai & Diwanji, DSK Legal, IndusLaw, Lexygen, Luthra & Luthra, Majmudar & Partners, Platinum Partners, S&R Associates, Tatva Legal

Capital markets

  • Update: Luthra & Luthra moved to band 1 for capital markets.
  • Band 1: CAM, SAM and S&R Associates.
  • Band 2: AZB, JSA, Khaitan, Luthra & Luthra
  • Band 3: Talwar Thakore & Associates, Trilegal

Projects, infrastructure and energy

  • Update: Phoenix Legal entered band 2 for projects.
  • Band 1: CAM, JSA, Link Legal, Luthra & Luthra, SAM
  • Band 2: Economic Laws Practice (ELP), HSA Advocates, Khaitan & Co, Seth Dua & Associates, Trilegal

Competition law

  • Update: Luthra dropped to band 3 from 2 in competition, while Economic Laws Practice (ELP) climbed to band 2.
  • Band 1: SAM
  • Band 2: AZB & Partners, CAM, Khaitan, Luthra & Luthra

Banking & finance

  • Update: Phoenix Legal climbed to band 2 from 3 in banking finance; ELP climbed to band 3
  • Band 1: AZB, CAM, JSA, SAM, TTA, Trilegal
  • Band 2: Juris Corp, Khaitan & Co, Luthra, Wadia Ghandy
  • Band 3: Bharucha & Partners, Phoenix Legal, SNG & Partners

Dispute resolution

  • Update: CAM dropped to band 2 from band 1 in dispute resolution. Mulla & Mulla dropped to band 3. Holla & Holla dropped to band 4.
  • Band 1: Agarwal Law Associates, CAM, Karanjawala & Co, SAM
  • Band 2: AZB, Bharucha, Federal & Rashmikant, JSA, Khaitan & Co, Luthra & Luthra, Mulla & Mulla, Wadia Ghandy
  • Band 3: Bhasin & Co, Dhir & Dhir Associates, DSK Legal, Dua Associates, Holla & Holla Advocates, IndusLaw, Kachwaha & Partners, Majmudar & Partners, PH Parekh & Co, Poovayya & Co, Trilegal


  • Update:  Khaitan & Co dropped to band 2 in tax, Vaish Associates dropped from band 2 to 3.
  • Band 1: BMR Legal, Economic Laws Practice (ELP), Khaitan & Co, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, Nishith Desai Associates
  • Band 2: Luthra & Luthra, Vaish Associates

Photo by Celestine Chua

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