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Luthra continues trend of hiring Indian expats (update 1)

Luthra & Luthra has hired two more India-returnees, making up four international hires in only three months. Ashwin Sapra joins as a group head from an in-house position at a US pharmaceutical company and Piyush Mishra has rejoined the firm as a group head from Allen & Overy (A&O).

Mishra had been an associate at Amarchand Mangaldas until 2004, then worked as a senior associate for three years at Luthra & Luthra and joined A&O from 2007. He has returned to Luthra & Luthra in Delhi this week.

Sapra (pictured) has joined Luthra & Luthra's Delhi office as a group head in the intellectual property (IP) practice of around 15 lawyers and two partners. He will focus primarily on patents advisory work.

Previously he had worked for two-and-a-half years at Virginia based pharmaceutical company Ascend Therapeutics and for around three years at Mayer Brown and Virginia IP boutique Greenblum and Bernstein. Before moving to the US and studying for an LLM there, he had worked at his father's Delhi law firm.

He said that the decision to return to India was in part motivated by personal reasons but added: "I think there is a lot of potential here in India, because the IP and pharmaceutical sector is developing and there is a lot of potential for growth."

Sapra's hire follows the Luthra & Luthra taking on returning associates Damini Bhalla from Clifford Chance and group head Manan Lahoty from Shearman & Sterling in the last three months.

The firm's founding partner Rajiv Luthra said that lawyers who had spent time outside of India did not necessarily have an advantage over local lawyers when applying for a job here.

"Of course his experience and the kind of stuff he's done is very important for us too," he said. However, he explained that returnees could often be less familiar with the Indian legal developments of the past few years.

"Yes, to an extent one needs to get reacquainted with all the new procedures but it is a task that's not impossible," said Sapra, citing that it has become feasible to stay abreast of developments back home through the internet and regular visits to India while abroad.

Luthra said that in the last two years the firm had hired around ten Indian lawyers returning from practising abroad. All were Indian qualified.

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