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Linklaters partners resign, join best friend's new lockstep


Two partners from Linklaters have resigned to join its Indian best friend firm Talwar Thakore & Associates (TTA) as equity partners.

The firm has also promoted two of its associates to non-equity partner level and put in place a lockstep system.

Linklaters Singapore project finance partner Narayan Iyer and Hong Kong corporate partner Kunal Thakore (pictured l. to r.) will become equity partners at TTA Mumbai from 1 December.

Linklaters India group head Sandeep Katwala said: "What this is intended to do is obviously, in respect of increasing higher demand, to add to the partnership of TTA so you are going from two partners to six partners."

TTA has now completed its conversion from a founder partner equity model to a lockstep-style model that is closely modelled on Linklaters' own 10-year lockstep.

TTA co-founding partner Shobhan Thakore said that he was very happy about the new joiners. "Suresh [Talwar] and I have been around all these years but we've obviously never been exposed to the sense of working in an international firm or dealing with large international clients.

"And that is largely the expertise that they will bring, apart from the obvious, from sort-of on-the-spot training for all the associates that we have."

However, he added that the idea was not to "put a freeze on recruitment and just take Linklaters lawyers" but that the firm would continue to recruit domestic lawyers, even it it would take longer.

Linklaters core India group now consists of around 20 lawyers and two partners after the departure of Iyer and Kunal Thakore, although roughly 140 Linklaters lawyers are involved in India transactions from time to time.

Katwala said he hoped that internal promotions would replenish the top level in the core India group in the next round or two.

Katwala and Shobhan Thakore both stressed that Iyer and Kunal Thakore had severed all financial ties to Linklaters before joining TTA. "There is no way that we can try and cross that line," said Shobhan Thakore.

Iyer has been a Linklaters partner since 2007 and Kunal Thakore since 2008.

In the last four months former Linklaters Singapore managing associates Sonali Mahapatra and Rahul Gulati have also joined TTA as managing associates.

Katwala said: "It is not part of a plan or strategy to move [Linklaters] India group lawyers into TTA… It was the particular situation in respect of these individuals and given we have the relationship with TTA that they were comfortable to move to TTA."

TTA has also promoted managing associates Feroz Dubash and Kiran Khanna to its partnership, effective from 1 April 2010.

Dubash and Khanna are the most senior associates at TTA, having been with the firm since its inception in 2007. Previously, Dubash had worked at Linklaters between 1998 and 2006 and Khanna had been with Crawford Bayley.

Former Linklaters partner Kunal Thakore is the son of Shobhan Thakore and new partner Khanna is the daughter of TTA co-founding partner Suresh Talwar.

Shobhan Thakore said: "All of us, with a straight face and clean conscience, can say in this particular case there is no question of any nepotism in that he became a partner in Linklaters first…"

He also added that Khanna's promotion to partnership was made strictly following the internal associate promotion guidelines.

TTA's associate career progression framework has been modelled closely on Linklaters' system.

TTA has also taken on new office space, which would enable it to almost double its lawyer headcount from its current 24, which now includes six partners.

Trilegal has also recently taken on a partner from its best friend Allen & Overy.

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