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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, 3 hours before everyone else got to read it.

DSK co-founder Kishanchandani starts Pioneer with 4 partners, Four Seasons office, plans to expand to 80+, Delhi, Bgl

Mayank Mehta joins gung-ho Pioneer partnership with steady eye on growth
Mayank Mehta joins gung-ho Pioneer partnership with steady eye on growth

DSK co-founding partner Satish Kishanchandani’s start-up is now live as Pioneer Legal in Mumbai, coming out of the gate with a partner promotion, a headcount of 20 fee-earners, 4 partners and plans for national expansion.

Alongside ex-DSK partners Narendra Dingankar and Pritha Jha, the firm has promoted ex-DSK associate partner Mayank Mehta (pictured), has been elevated to partner level at the firm. The KC Law College Mumbai graduate had begun his career at Dua Associates in 2007, followed by Hariani & Co in 2010, and DSK in 2012. He was made associate partner last year.

Kishanchandani commented that at the moment all partners were primarily active in corporate work including pre-litigation advice, although the firm was aiming for a full-service model including litigators soon.

“We’ve been overly client-centric for sure,” he explained about the firm’s strategy, adding that within a year-and-a-half or two, he was aiming towards total headcounts of 70 to 80 fee-earners. “We’re not going to be a boutique firm but I don’t need headcounts only - we need people who can deliver.

“The purpose should be much higher, [focusing on] more high quality work - that’s the point.”

He said Pioneer would open a Delhi office before the end of the year and a Bangalore office “hopefully” after that.

Pioneer’s Mumbai office should be “fully up and running by end of the week”, he added, having taken a 7,500 square foot floor in the business centre of Mumbai’s mid-town Four Seasons Hotel.

“I thought it goes with our theme,” quipped Kishanchandani about the location. “It’s a better building, better place to work from and more convenient than Lower Parel.”

The firm has also ditched the associate partner concept, going with the ‘counsel’ designation instead, in addition to the typical associate, senior and principal associate ranks.

There are three counsel in the firm, as of now.

The firm’s clients include funds True North, TA Associates, and Tata Capital, as well as corporates such as Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, DIC and Dentsu, US company Merkle, and domestic media players Percept and Gaja.

“We’re still friends,” Kishanchandani added about the amicable separation from DSK, noting about the transition: “We have to make sure clients doesn’t suffer.”

DSK Legal now has 33 partners, of whom 14 are associate partners. A total of 5 of its partners are women.

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