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Ambitious two-month wrap (Newsletter issue 119)

The newsletter is back after a two month break. Catch up on all legal news and happenings you may have missed.

Despite being India’s biggest firm, Amarchand has remained possibly the most ambitious. The firm finally unveiled its big 2018 plans to Legally India – click here to read the full scoop. Apart from heavy (some would argue too heavy) growth, the firm is kicking off with a new office in Chennai, to be followed by ones in Gujarat and Pune, and an international arbitration centre in Delhi. And there’s more on the cards.

Meanwhile, Amarchand offspring Argus and old-school Bombay firm Udwadia Udeshi performed one of the unlikeliest match-ups in living memory, merging into one national firm that is sure to mix things up.

The biggest recent industry bombshell was when ICICI Bank general counsel Pramod Rao announced his resignation. The insider track is that his foray into private practice will be equally surprising.

Juris Corp parted ways with two partners but welcomed two others, with one from Fox Mandal, which in turn faced attention from former colleagues and the police as it bid an Rs 8 crore adieu to its relationship with Little & Co.

The start-up scene continued to buzz. Verus became a five equity-partner NUJS-start-up behemoth with four new joiners, while ex-AZBer Souvik Ganguly’s Acuity Law closed its first deal and three youngsters set up the unusually-named and ambitious Kiaa LLP.

Legally India also examined in Mint the strange world of law firm liability insurance, which is a booming market despite the odds of an Indian lawyer getting sued is more unlikely than even many acts of God.

Top law firm stories

Law firm promotion season

There are general jitters about the economy and many firms are privately cautious on the prospects of internal advancement, lateral hiring and also law school recruitments.

Nevertheless, some have come out of the blocks with their new financial year partner promotions, with equity being a popular buzzword: four (including two equity) at Naik Naik & Co (which also opened a Delhi office), two promos and two laterals at Wadia Ghandy, one more at ALMT (Subhash Jadhav), one associate partner at Crawford Bayley (Renuka Shetty), one (equity) at Majmudar & Co (now Majmudar & Partners), and only one at AZB Delhi and Trilegal so far. Amarchand and JSA are still to announce.

Khaitan: Steep internal ladder?
Khaitan: Steep internal ladder?

Finally, a grand total of none at Khaitan & Co. However, Khaitan has on paper been one of the fastest growers of all – 70 per cent in three years, the vast majority of which came through laterals. (Khaitan is also following Amarchand strategy and is eying up Chennai, Hyderabad offices).

At venerable yet dynamic Wadia Ghandy it has been even more rapid with a 77 per cent headcount increase in only two years.

Plus, five more firms including HSA, Bhasin, Vaish, MV Kini and Fox also promoted at various levels.

More lateral hires

Foreign law firms

FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) allowed
FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) allowed

The Madras High Court finally decided on the liberalisation of the legal market, deciding not very much at all but keeping both sides fairly happy and paying arguably less heed to logic.


Legal process outsourcing had a special place in the Chennai writ, in that it was recognised as an anomaly worth examining (but not by the court). A little earlier, Legally India had reported on CPA Global’s restructuring of its LPO business as India headcounts plummeted before its $1.45bn sale.

The courts, in arbitration, about politics

Altamas Kabir
Altamas Kabir
The Court Witness chronicles returned with glimpses into the future of India’s most powerful organisation, and at the dark underbelly of the area called service law, that no one is ever taught.

The Delhi High Court told non-AORs that the existing AOR monopoly is fine as it is.

Legally India revealed with Mint that the Debt Recovery Tribunals are chock-a-block, much like every court in India: Pending DRT cases spike by 70% in 2011 to Rs. 1.57 trn amid slowdown, inefficiency.

At the Supreme Court meanwhile, pendency of cases increased by more than 10 per cent in 11 months. Bad situation.

Abhinav Bhushan, PH Parekh, Vijay Sondhi and Adish Agarwala took their places, respectively, as first Indian ICA Paris lawyer, Padma Shree awardee, first law firm lawyer at the Delhi Bar Council vice chair, and Delhi bar council chairman.

CJI Kapadia and four other judges have been (and still are) mulling over the freedom of the press to report happenings in court. Read on to find out why Kapadia’s SC is putting the media on trial.

Budget 2012

Stop, hammertime.
Stop, hammertime.
Legally India brought a blow-by-blow account of the FM’s soporific Budget Speech 2012, though the really interesting bits were harder to spot. The retrospective Vodafone tax furore has already caused a holy war, and the service tax issue too is not likely to rest soon.

Deals, cases, instructions

It was a season of firsts, be it India’s first Institutional Placement Program powered by Amarchand, S&R and Jones Day or the first ever challenge to a much criticised law, the first tryst of AZB & Partners with the world of luxury fashion PE, or the first reported Reliance corporate deal for K-Law. JSA and Naik helped MCX-SX out of a SEBI ban, while Amarchand and Luthra met Sterlite-Sesa Goa and Vedanta post relaxed CCI merger controls..

Legal Education

The All India Bar Exam (AIBE) and the SC made advocates wait, wait and wait for an exam result that was not too great. The HRD ministry put an end to the legal education tussle with BCI.

Sponsored post: LSAT—India 2012 – The entrance test for more than 40 law colleges in India

Legally India did NLSIU’s uninspiring KT Thomas report, and fired off RTI applications to 7 national law schools as part of its new law school investigation project (first results in soon on LI!). And Jindal and Indiana Universities teamed up for a shortened LLB / JD degree.

Nalsar this, that and gate

Faizan Mustafa
Faizan Mustafa
Nalsar Hyderabad continued to have most of the fun in the last two months, bringing home the cup of the prestigious Vis Vienna Moot and the Oxford Media Moot, and a BCI moot trophy. On the admin front, Nalsar got itself a new vice chancellor (VC) in Prof Faizan Mustafa, as the present VC Veer Singh is heading for pastures new and registrar Acharyulu Sridhar has been replaced by KVS Sharma. Plus, the first ever Nalsar sports fest will be coming soon

Mooting Premier League

Mooting Premier League 2011-12 - MPL3
Mooting Premier League 2011-12 - MPL3
A lot of action in the Mooting Premier League as NLSIU Bangalore still leads by a large margin but NLU Jodhpur and others are catching up fast now.

Fun ‘n’ games

indian corporate lawyer meme
indian corporate lawyer meme

Legally India also had a little fun in the past two months, what with the beginning of April, the return of Aunty and Uncle, and some meme-ing.

And finally, dear corporate law firm lawyers, dear advocates. Have you ever struggled to explain to your non-lawyer friends what you do? Does your mum know what you do? Seniors, clients and spouses do not seem to have much of an insight either? Click here to explain why.

Legally Wired News Round-ups

Top photo by Felix O,
other photos under creative commons license have details available on linked-to pages.

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