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Khaitan & Co target: Delhi, Bangalore to mirror Mumbai as local partner Phukan boosts corporate

Phukan: Bengaluru veteran
Phukan: Bengaluru veteran
After taking on more space in Delhi, Khaitan & Co has hired Bangalore independent Anindita Phukan as a partner and vowed to grow both offices with Mumbai as a model, accepting that they needed to improve local market recognition.

Phukan, who graduated from NLSIU Bangalore in 1996 followed by four years each at ICICI Bank and J Sagar Associates (JSA), six months at AZB & Partners and almost six years at Bangalore firm Poovayya & Co as a partner, started up her independent practice in September 2010 focusing on corporate and M&A law.

She has now joined as Khaitan & Co’s fourth Bangalore partner, making up 15 lawyers, with four of her former associates also having the option of joining. She said that starting up her own firm had been “a very, very good experience and a joy too” but now she saw great synergies in teaming up with the national firm.

Phukan said: “I hope we’ll be able to replicate the success that the Mumbai office has had... We are here for the long term and I hope to achieve a fair degree of success. What we’re looking at is expansion and then becoming one of the best law firms in Bangalore.”

Khaitan & Co partner Rajiv Khaitan told Legally India: “We have made a commitment to ourselves to grow our capabilities in Bangalore - we have recruited two more partners this year itself.” Ex-JSA partner Abhilek Verma had joined Khaitan & Co Bangalore in May 2011.

Khaitan conceded that brand recognition in Bangalore had not been as strong as it could have been because the firm was focusing primarily on Mumbai and Delhi. “We were not growing it as much as we wanted to […] Now we are focusing on Bangalore and now we are just on that path so hopefully we should give the Amarchands of this world a good run for their money [in Bangalore].”

“What we are trying to do is meet the requirements of what our clients need. We are going to bolster our corporate and real estate practice, and we do have a good litigation team,” he added.

Delhi

Only last week Khaitan & Co’s Delhi office had also increased its floor space by 50 per cent to around 17,000 square feet from 11,000 square feet, moving its 45 litigators to a floor of their own.

The Delhi office in Ashoka Estate, where Luthra & Luthra is also located, now has 76 lawyers and 130 total staff compared to only 56 lawyers in May 2010, confirmed Mumbai co-founding partner Rabindra Jhunjhunwala, and although seven litigators had left to join Lakshmi Kumaran & Sridharan in July the numbers remained strong.

But Jhunjhunwala conceded that a lot more needed to be done for the Delhi and Bangalore offices’ local market recognition. “[Delhi] has done well but from positioning we still need to do a fair bit in the local market. When you start comparing it with Bombay, that’s when you realise that you still have a lot more to be done.”

He added that both Delhi and Bangalore would grow through lateral hires in the coming months. The firm’s Mumbai office had increased its partner headcounts rapidly in the past two years through aggressive lateral hiring.

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