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JSA bets on sports, media with Vidhii media & ex-UTV head

Lawyers line up for cage fighting India
Lawyers line up for cage fighting India

J Sagar Associates (JSA) has hired Vidhii Partners media head and former UTV Movies legal head Nandini Mehta as a salaried partner, aiming to ramp up its sports and media practice.

She said that she was joining JSA “purely to scale up”, having joined Vidhii in 2010.

“I’ve had a really great run at Vidhii. At JSA we’re looking to definitely expand the media and entertainment practice, as I’ve started to do at Vidhii, but also looking very strongly to expand on sport.”

In the sports practice in particular, which JSA counsel Gaurav Sekhri has been handling from Delhi, there were synergies, she said, between her practice and JSA’s.

JSA Mumbai partner Akshay Chudasama said that while the firm already did a lot of M&A work in the media space, Mehta’s arrival would also allow the firm to do pure media commercial work with large media conglomerates, where JSA still had some way to go.

Media, as sports, was not yet a very mature market and therefore interesting to the firm. “We were taking a long term view of the market in respect of sports. It’s yet at a very nascent stage […] but we believe that in three to five years horizon it is going to be much more professional,” he said, with increased focus on contracts, brand endorsements, and related allied activities.

Mehta said she was particularly tipping on the rise of sports such as boxing, the India entry of the mixed martial arts property Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the US’ National Basketball Association (NBA).

While at Vidhii she had expanded from motion picture-related work to also span new media, gaming, broadcast and live events, such as festivals, she told Legally India.

Vidhii catch-up

Vidhii had spun out of Parash Kuhad Associates in October 2009 after a short-lived merger with Hemant Sahai Associates (as HSA Advocates was then called).

Vidhii co-founder Manish Desai said that he and Mehta had worked together for two years and the relationship has been very cordial. “She wanted to on media as well as other areas of law and she thought being part of a bigger firm would help.”

He explained that Vidhii was now at around 35 lawyers in total. The firm had expanded to Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata since setting up but Mehta’s original Vidhii media law office in Mumbai’s Bandra area was consolidated into its Lower Parel headquarters around one year ago already – “locationally it was not giving us any advantage”.

Last year, just before Argus Partners merged with Udwadia Udeshi, Vidhii had hired Udwadia Udeshi associate partner Sandeep Aole to a partner-equivalent position at Vidhii.

At Vidhii, however, no lawyer officially had a partner designation as everybody, including associates, took a share in the firm’s revenue to an extent. The founders – Desai and Sowjanya Menon – were drawing the majority of equity but “everybody shares the revenue in terms of the contribution”, he explained. Semi-independent practices or offices, such as Mehta’s media office, were a separate profit centre with their own allocation rules.

Photo via Martin Rhodes (CC)

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