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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, 4 hours before everyone else got to read it.

Trilegal latest to be baffled by Hyderabad: To close office gracefully after partner Pavan Kumar exits

Trilegal closes office but does not abandon Hyderabad, as Pavan Kumar to go independent
Trilegal closes office but does not abandon Hyderabad, as Pavan Kumar to go independent

Trilegal has decided to close its Hyderabad office and to service existing clients from Bangalore, after its only partner in the city, Pavan Kumar, has decided to go independent. We have

2003 Nalsar Hyderabad graduate Kumar, who had started his career at Amarchand Mangaldas in Mumbai, had joined Trilegal in 2010 from local firm DS Associates, of which he was co-founder.

Bangalore co-founding partner Rahul Matthan said: “Pavan has decided to move on. He’s got other plans, and we figured that it makes more sense to focus on the entire Southern region through Bangalore, as opposed to trying to keep Hyderabad going without Pavan.”

He added that anyone working in the office would be absorbed into other offices, if they wished to move.

While the firm still had clients in Hyderabad, which it would continue to support, Matthan said: “We wouldn’t keep an office without a partner: I don't think that's the way Trilegal functions, I don't think it's good for the associates and I don't think it's good for the clients as well.

“When we're running an office out of Bangalore, it's best to be upfront to clients with what we're doing.”

Different times

Back in 2010, echoing a wider enthusiasm in the economy and the legal industry for the city, Kumar had said that “Hyderabad is one of the most emerging markets as you can see” and that “I think in five years the Hyderabad office [of Trilegal] can be as big as the Bangalore office – you really can't put a tab on where the market will go”.

Trilegal's co-founding partner Anand Prasad, who has since retired but was the “visiting partner” in charge of Hyderabad back then, had agreed that there was major scope for growth in Hyderabad.

Times have obviously changed, of course sped along in part by the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Matthan told us he was surprised the city had not grown as much as anticipated - “there have been a lot of firms in the market for some time” - but other than the split of the state having “taken its toll”, he was not entirely sure why national firms had been struggling to build a permanent footprint in Hyderabad (we reported exclusively earlier today that Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas had lost three partners in a row in Hyderabad and is likely to operate its office from Bangalore now).

“I don't think there's any market that can't adapt to building its own dynamics and price points,” said Matthan, adding: “I don't think there's anything about Hyderabad, as it were, that doesn't lend itself to that.”

That said, he noted that the Hyderabad office under Kumar had never costing the partnership money or “running at a loss or anything like that”, and that the technology, infrastructure and real estate markets in Hyderabad remained interesting.

Update 30 January 2018: Thought it worth adding that notwithstanding CAM downsizing and Trilegal closing in Hyderabad, we have been informed that several firms are still verybullish about Hyderabad, such as Tatva Legal, Samvad Partners, and IndusLaw, FoxMandal, Luthra & Luthra and Kochhar & Co also maintain offices there amongst the national firms.

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