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Friendly strategies / Issue 12

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Trilegal co-founding partner Anand Prasad is candid about the fact that the firm has lacked significant expertise in capital markets but the firm may be on a path to plugging that hole - and others.

Despite four more IPOs hitting the markets, Indian shares took a hammering this week and even the hotly anticipated Adani Power IPO turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.

Even so, the markets bounced back today and Indian firms aiming for the big league will find it hard to do so without a capital markets practice.

Trilegal co-founding partner Anand Prasad is candid about the fact that Trilegal has lacked significant expertise in the area, particularly after Abhishek Saxena, who did some capital markets work, left to form Phoenix Legal late last year.

Hiring Srinivas Parthasarathy from best friend Allen & Overy (A&O) to head up Trilegal's new dedicated capital markets practice in Mumbai is therefore a step in the right direction.

However, despite being spun by A&O as primarily a "strengthen[ing] of collaboration", Srinivas' hire was a fortunate personal fit for Trilegal partners after a long search and, more importantly, an internal strategic necessity for the firm's continued growth.

"The plan is to have an extremely robust capital markets practice sometime in the next year-and-a-half to two years and ultimately to be a top tier capital markets practice that competes with Amarchand or S&R [Associates]," says Prasad.

Perhaps this is excessive optimism and he acknowledges it will be "tough", particularly in light of the esablished guard's current dominance in the field.

Then again, many established players also wrote off Trilegal when it first started.

The other objective is to grow Trilegal's domestic client base "significantly", which according to Prasad currently only makes up around a third of the firm's turnover. He believes that a capital markets practice will be essential to building up that domestic portfolio.

But expanding capital markets is only one step in Trilegal's larger three-piece puzzle, which also includes expansion of litigation and tax. By hiring Srinivas this week and energy disputes partner Sitesh Mukherjee from Hemant Sahai Associates in February, Trilegal is clearly trying to walk the walk.

That A&O is the main instigator of this strategy, as some seem to be suspecting, discounts the natural competitive urge of domestic firms of their own accord. Having said that, the magic circle firm will certainly not be displeased with its best friend's strategy.

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On Legally India's forum meanwhile, an international US firm is looking for a "solid best friends relationship" or other arrangements "consistent with the Advocates Act". The offer appears to be legitimate but beware, the firm's standards are understood to be high.

In other news, FoxMandal Delhi has paid fee-earners' salaries, though partners are still waiting for a cheque. Witness also the dearth of private equity deals over the past year and which law firms have managed to grab a slice of the pie.

Click here for our latest Legal Opinion, which decrypts exactly what is wrong with the Indian Government's stance to encryption. Do also let us know if you would like to contribute to future columns.

If you are a "citizen" in the mood for some things more "non-lawfirmite", have a look at:
- our interview with Anand Grover, the lawyer who managed to overturn the homophobic 377 law after years of struggle, and
- a round-up of Indian law schools' performance in the previous international and domestic mooting season.

And finally, the Legally India newsletter has broken through the 1,000 subscriber mark. A great big thank you to everyone who has signed up or forwarded it to friends or colleagues. Please keep doing so and letting us hear your feedback.

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