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SILF to widen membership outside of Delhi

The Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) is hoping to widen its appeal outside of its traditional centre Delhi by strengthening local metro chapters and inducting new committee members.

SILF's Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and other regional chapters will be headed by prominent local lawyers.

SILF members appointed the regional chapter heads and new office bearers at its annual general meeting (AGM) in Delhi around two weeks ago.

Amarchand Mangaldas co-managing partner Cyril Shroff and Nishith Desai Associates managing partner Nishith Desai will be chair and co-chair of the Mumbai chapter respectively.

Bhasin & Co partner Lalit Bhasin remains as SILF's president. He said: "In the last couple of years there have been activities in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. And hopefully this year we are also going to have more of these."

SILF has traditionally lacked the close involvement and visibility of many firms and lawyers headquartered outside of Delhi.

Amarchand Delhi managing partner Shardul Shroff has been elected as associate president of SILF. Rajinder Narain & Co managing partner Ravi Nath has been elevated to the post of senior vice president, having been vice president before.

The following managing partners have been elected to the new joint vice-president post: Luthra & Luthra founder Rajiv Luthra, Dua Associates' Ranji Dua, AZB & Partners' Zia Mody, FoxMandal Little's Som Mandal, and J Sagar Associates' Jyoti Sagar.

Luthra commented: "SILF was founded nearly 10 years ago and has been able to achieve a lot primarily because of the efforts of one man, Mr Bhasin."

"I am glad to see that the whole executive and the management is opening up and younger people are coming in with newer blood to take this thing to the next level," he added.

Discussing the agenda of SILF for the coming year, Bhasin said that SILF members had met with law minister Veerappa Moily on 22 August 2009 and had talked about issues such as the Companies’ Bill, reforms in legal education and the entry of foreign firms.

Bhasin agreed that the 2009 Companies Bill was especially relevant to law firms because it could scrap the 20-partner limit in Indian partnerships, allowing partnerships to consist of up to 100 partners.

He said that there could also be a move to bring legal education under the ambit of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), which regulate national higher education. This could reduce the current regulatory monopoly of the Bar Council of India over legal education.

He also added that ensuring a high quality of law colleges was vital.

He also added that Moily had assured SILF that foreign lawyers would not be allowed to practice in India "without proper consultation".

Moily had met with British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice Lord William Bach around two weeks ago. At the meeting, Moily had ruled out making any immediate decision on the entry of foreign lawyers.

SILF was founded in 2000 to address the need of an organized body to represent the interests of law firms in India.

To read a full list of SILF's new committee members and office bearers, click here.

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