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Trilegal to bust open competition law with NLSIU Prof, Allen & Overy secondment

Competition law
Competition law
Exclusive: Trilegal has created a pure-play competition law practice after hiring former NLSIU Bangalore professor Rahul Singh and the six-month secondment of counsel Sakya Chaudhry in the competition practice of the firm’s best friend Allen & Overy (A&O).

Trilegal counsel Chaudhry returned last month from a roughly six-month secondment with A&O, where he sat with the international firm’s competition law teams primarily in London and other European offices gathering know-how and working with clients in the specialist area.

Singh, who had been competition law assistant professor at NLSIU since 2005 after completing his LLB from the law school and his LLM from Harvard University, has joined Trilegal as a senior associate and will focus exclusively on competition law. Immediately prior to joining Trilegal he was associate director at the Bar Council of India’s (BCI) directorate of legal education since early 2010.

Trilegal co-founding partner Anand Prasad said that until now he in corporate and partner Sitesh Mukherjee on the litigation side had jointly led the competition practice by trying to pull in lawyers from other practice areas. Singh, however, would be the firm’s first full-time specialist in competition law.

Prasad said: “Rahul Singh popped up and he seemed to have a wide degree of experience with competition law issues and sounded a good fit.” said Prasad despite Singh never having worked in private practice. “We had a choice between either going with a former bureaucrat or somebody who is younger and a greater cultural fit and we chose the latter.”

“The truth is how many lawyers do you know who’ve worked in competition law? If you ask the truth, everybody who claims to be a competition law expert has either read the competition law book and has no practice experience. At least in Rahul Singh we have somebody who has a large amount of experience and spent time with how competition law is practiced in other parts of the world and has done academic analysis,” added Prasad.

Singh told Legally India that he chose to join private law practice to “complete his donut”: “I’ve done everything else about competition law until now. Since 2005 I’ve taught competition law, I have been a member of advisory regulation at the Competition Commission and in that capacity I’ve advised the Commission in formulating all its regulation.”

He added that he had also trained CCI staff in competition law, taught at University of California and Berkeley and at Deakin University in Australia, published in a number of peer-reviewed international journals and been cited by the chief justice of the Australian apex court.

Singh said that the adjustment to law firm practice should not be too difficult. “At the university I used to keep very long hours too – I used to work from 8am until largely 8pm. And at university you do the work because you want to but not because your boss wants you to do it but I don’t think in the professional space that should be an issue at all.”

Prasad predicted the practice area would grow in importance in India: “Competition law obviously depends on how the Competition Commission [of India (CCI)] functions. If it functions effectively it is with penalties and compliance with competition law principles will be important for every business. If that starts to happen lawyers will be very gainfully employed in that practice area.”

Photo by Mark Strozier

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