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CAM acquires lawyer-to-the-stars Ashni Parekh’s Bollywood film practice as going-concern for eventual full hand-over

Ashni Parekh’s client’s include Bollywood stars such as P Chops & Sasha K
Ashni Parekh’s client’s include Bollywood stars such as P Chops & Sasha K

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas has, according to its press release, “acquired the media and entertainment practice” of independent lawyer Ashni Parekh, which “has been developed by her over the past 14 years and is recognised as one of the leading practices in the media and entertainment space in India”.

The press release noted:

In addition, Ashni Parekh has joined the firm as senior advisor – media and entertainment to grow and expand the Practice.

It is understood that Parekh has a sizeable practice relating to Bollywood and the film industry, including in film finance and film transactions.

Parekh had worked at Nishith Desai Associates after graduating law for 14 years until around 2005, before setting out on her own, according to an article in the Economic Times from 2007. The ET listed Saif Ali Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Sushmita Sen amongst her clients.

In 2017, the then-46-year-old was profiled by Vogue (paywall) magazine as one of the “legal eagle” “superstars behind Bollywood’s most famous faces”, noting “her other clients include production houses, directors, music composers, writers as well as celebrity bigwigs like Shahid Kapoor and Ajay Devgn”.

And according to a Business World profile from 2016, other clients include Kajol Devgn, Preity Zinta, Imtiaz Ali, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rohan Sippy

That does seem an enviable practise profile in a Mumbai space currently dominated by firms such as DSK Legal and Nishith Desai Associates.

Acqui-and-hire

Interestingly, reading between the lines in the press release, her move does appear to be structured as though both the firm’s and her intention in the longer term are for her to hand over her practice to the firm.

Managing partner Cyril Shroff said in the release: “The acquisition of Ashni’s Practice is in keeping with the firm’s focus on scaling its technology, media and entertainment practice into a market leading practice.

“We are also delighted to welcome Ashni Parekh to the firm. She has a substantive expertise and experience in this area and a very strong reputation in the market. We are confident that the acquisition of the practice will enable the growth of the firm’s media and entertainment practice and to provide the clients with a whole bouquet of services that Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas can offer in a seamless manner.”

CAM head of the media and entertainment practice and partner Bharat Vasani added in the release: “It is a great move and I’m sure Ashni’s experience and knowledge will further strengthen the media & entertainment practice of the firm.”

Finally, Parekh added in a statement: “I am thrilled to be merging the practice with Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, a firm that has great legacy and reputation to its name.

“This will provide tremendous potential to develop and take this practice forward under the capable hands of Mr Cyril Shroff and his team of excellent lawyers. I am looking forward to integrating my practice with the Firm.”

All these statements do make it sound like the intention is very much for an acquisition and eventual handover of the practice as a going concern, rather than a straight out senior hire.

We have requested clarification from Cyril Amarchand whether Parekh is intending to stay with the firm for the long term, or whether she is envisaged to join the firm primarily to facilitate the eventual full handover of the practice and her exit.

A firm spokesperson responded that “she has just joined and is passionate about the practice”.

On a request for further clarification about her long term plans, the spokesperson added: “She is helping us build the practice for the long term.”

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