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Newsletter: Trials, Errors & Tribulations (Issue 124)

We're doing our best to make sure the newsletter will wing its way to you again every week
We're doing our best to make sure the newsletter will wing its way to you again every week

Hello again! This week’s newsletter is back with the low-down, context and analysis on the most important things that happened in the last week or so of law.

We hope you liked the previous issue of our revived newsletter and will find this week's round-up as informative (and perhaps even entertaining).

Do let us know what you think or if you have any suggestions.

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Shroff vs Shroff (continued...)
Shroff vs Shroff (continued...)

Bombay-Delhi rivalries

As Legally India has been reporting for months (and as most reasonable observers have been expecting), it’s now pretty much unofficially official: India’s most iconic and largest law firm, Amarchand Mangaldas, will break in two by 1 April.

One half will most likely be called Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, while the other is likely to incorporate the Delhi brother’s first name Shardul in some, possibly similar way.

Both new firms, divided along the Bombay-Delhi faultline that is famously more than just geographic, are now all but certain to open up offices on each others’ turf.

The legal market is abuzz with wild gossip about who’ll get into bed with whom, but more important will be the possibilities of what two competing Amarchands will mean for everyone else.

Some fear the sudden addition of another major rival in each city will make everyone’s life harder, while others are hoping that competition between the Shroffs can keep their ambitions in check.

Btw: The BCI will make 'some new rules'
Btw: The BCI will make 'some new rules'

Lawmaking by trial and error

It is generally acknowledged that making new laws and rules is best done transparently and through a process of consultation, rather than by unilateral decrees.

The Bar Council of India (BCI) demonstrated this the difficult way, after in November of last year it sprung on everyone via Gazette, its new pseudo-legislation banning youngsters from high courts and apex court (and introducing the (fairly defensible) regular renewal of advocates’ practising certificates).

Then, presumably unhappy with the backlash, last week it let all the state bar councils know it was scrapping that rule to replace it with unspecified new ones, which - lo-and-behold - appeared in the official government Gazette a little while later.

While the BCI has thankfully abandoned their rather ham-fisted implementation of keeping the kids out of higher courts, it also seems to have given in to the demands of advocates-on-record (AORs) for exemption from the regular renewals. Perhaps a strange decision, as the AORs have certainly not been covering themselves in glory, if recent Supreme Court judgments are to be believed.

The Delhi district court CM trials
The Delhi district court CM trials

Trial by fire

One area where the BCI’s regulation was conspicuously absent was during Delhi bar associations' eloquent protests last week, burning effigies of the city’s chief ministerial hopeful and ex-police chief Kiran Bedi.

A nice winter bonfire is definitely one way to make a point, though it's less certain that this is also a lawyerly one.

Phoenix' new partnership recruits
Phoenix' new partnership recruits

Snakes & ladders

Desai & Diwanji, has not had a good start to the year, losing two homegrown partners to PDS Legal, E&Y’s best friend law firm, which is hiring as aggressively as ever. The steady trickle of defections leaves D&D at risk of becoming a shadow of its former self coupled with its decreasing visibility in the M&A deal space, where the firm once used to boast at least volume in the league tables.

Then, ex-KPMG deputy head honcho, Dinesh Kanabar, who left somewhat quietly last year to start up his own advisory firm, has merged with 2012 start-up VoxLaw – set up by -ex-ELP and Bharucha lawyers – to become an tax advisory / law firm with 70 professionals, according to its own count, which could make this a firm to watch going forward.

Lakshmi Kumaran, which used to be a hardcore tax firm, has proven to be one of the most steadily growing firms in recent years, and has now also hired PSA partner Neeraj Dubey to boost its corporate practice.

Phoenix Legal too, which has pursued a steady, organic strategy to growth, has ratcheted it up a gear resulting in a 50% increase to its partnership with a lateral hire and two internal promotions.

And at Luthra & Luthra the first of this year’s internal promotions have come in, with Geeta Dhania boosting capital markets and more to probably follow.

Odds & ends

We’re also pleased to announce that Legally India will be contributing regularly to Mint - easily India’s highest-quality business daily. We began last week with an explainer of the Supreme Court’s landmark BCCI decision last week and will be following up with more.

And finally, we’ll leave you this week with a small clarification. If you thought the law ministry has been sitting on its hands doing nothing since passing the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), that’s not entirely true: high priority plans are afoot to rename the Bombay and Madras high courts.

Top photo by Felix O

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