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Referral-drop scuppered ALMT-Clydes marriage; New offices planned

Exclusive interview: ALMT will re-build its Delhi and London offices after its split from foreign best friend firm Clyde & Co and five partners, vowed ALMT Mumbai partner Aliff Fazelbhoy.

ALMT, whose breakaway firm Clasis Law will continue the best friendship with UK firm Clyde & Co independently, will lose its London office, the majority of its Delhi outpost that was started up by 2010 lateral hire Vineet Aneja and its projects practice that was started by former India Law Services partner Ishtiaq Ali in early 2010.

“We will have to expand our presence in Delhi and London so we are working very aggressively on that,” Fazelbhoy told Legally India. “We should be back to having a presence there very soon.”

He said that two associates remained with ALMT in Delhi, while the ALMT brand was associated with London so having an office in the city was important.

“We are deciding if one of us will relocate or if we’ll recruit one [partner in Delhi] again,” added Fazelbhoy, while in London matters were less urgent but relocation of an India-based lawyer was also a possibility.

However, apart from its relatively new projects practice, ALMT’s Mumbai office remained in good shape, he said, and would not be targeting rapid expansion. “At the moment we are quite happy - nobody has left us really, we’ve only lost one associate in Mumbai and one partner [in addition to Ali] so the whole team is really intact.”

Fazelbhoy (pictured) noted that the split with Clydes and Clasis was “very amicable”, adding: “We realised people had different objectives.”

One major reason for the break-up was that there was a “not insignificant drop” of referrals from other international firms, as per Fazelbhoy, with around 90 per cent of ALMT’s overseas referrals having originated from UK and US firms.

AZB & Partners and Clifford Chance too broke off their best friendship earlier this year in part because of fewer referrals from non-best-friend firms.

Clasis Law partners and a Clyde & Co spokesperson declined to comment on the firms’ future strategy, with one Clasis partner writing in an email that it would be “inappropriate at this time”.

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