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The LI newsletter is finally back: Transparently challenged (Issue 123)

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

You may have noticed that Legally India's once-much-beloved newsletter of 122 issues has been on a multi-year hiatus, mostly due to workload and technical issues.

We are hoping to set that right again in 2015 and more than 25,000 of you should have received a copy safely in your inbox since yesterday, if you have a Legally India account or signed up to our newsletter years ago.

If you use Gmail, please check your ‘promotions’ folder and make sure we’re not categorised as spam after this long absence.

And if you’ve changed jobs or email addresses since then, please do sign up again here (or click here to unsubscribe any time):

Subscribe to Legally India's newsletter!

Context, analysis & more straight to your email inbox every week, unsubscribe any time.

It's a must-read for every lawyer in or near India.

BCI transparency project: Work in Progress
BCI transparency project: Work in Progress

BCI transparency: Work in progress

Starting off the re-cap of what's recently happened in the world of law, is our coverage of the Bar Council of India (BCI). Or rather, the way that the BCI has successfully avoided most scrutiny for years (at least since Gopal Subramanium's resignation), hiding nearly all of its minutes or other information that would shed some light on how exactly the statutory body is functioning.

Only one obvious question to ask, apart from many others, would be how the number of law colleges has increased from 800 to 1,200 in around two years.

LI did ask that question and others, in seeking the BCI's internal meeting minutes via the Right to Information (RTI) Act. We were initially granted our request and given an appointment to inspect the documents at the BCI offices.

And then, once there, we were denied inspection by BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra. His main reason, which we audio-recorded for posterity: Legally India would cause "mischief" with the information. Well, what can you say to that? Read full story >

The BCI has had good form in obfuscating when it comes to RTI (see the creative responses given in this RTI from last year, for instance; or check out the T&Cs the BCI forces bar exam takers to sign, purporting to waive RTI rights), but that doesn't mean that it should.

At least three lawyers agree, and have joined us in our appeal to request the BCI's minutes, which should really already have been up on their own website if they were a half-way efficient regulator.

We'll keep at it and keep you posted on how it goes.


Shroff vs Shroff: An epic in the making?
Shroff vs Shroff: An epic in the making?

Shroff vs Shroff: Divided kingdoms?

If there's any law firm story in contention for biggest story of this year and last, it'll have to be the now-very-public feud of Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai vs Delhi (aka Cyril Shroff vs Shardul Shroff).

In case you have been hiding under a rock: India's biggest and most well-known corporate law firm is in the midst of a dispute that goes beyond just family-matters and is certain to impact the entire firm, whatever the outcome of the battle surrounding the late Shroff matriarch's sizable equity stake in the firm.

Most insiders privately (and reasonably) don't seem to hold out much hope that Amarchand can remain one firm anymore after more than just bridges were burnt in the Bombay high court.

However, a mediation between the brothers is ongoing, with a new, extended February deadline marking a possible decision day (though further extensions would not at all be surprising).

Read all previous coverage of Shroff vs Shroff >


Abhijit Joshi: Different strokes
Abhijit Joshi: Different strokes

Setting out, selling out & time outs

The law firm start-up boom has shown few signs of dwindling, though increasingly the ones that have managed to make a go of it are being hoovered up by the bigger firms.

Srishti Ojha, former Desai & Diwanji partner, has started her own firm Veritas Law Offices, while Vivek Daswaney, who set out by himself five years ago from ALMT, has joined DH Law for very valid reasons.

Meanwhile, young AZB Mumbai star partner Essaji Vahanvati has taken a six-month sabbatical, hoping to return to AZB after spending time with a non-law family business.

Irrespective of whether Vahanvati does eventually return, the always-busy M&A powerhouse in Mumbai, which lost senior partner Abhijit Joshi and partner Nandish Vyas, to the start-up dream, will be a few execution-partner-hours short in the coming months (although Clifford Chance India-returnee Rishi Gautam joining the AZB fold should help matters slightly).

Different strokes applies equally to a senior DSK Legal Delhi partner who's increasingly been spending time in courts and tribunals in the past few years. Now Balbir Singh made the jump and left DSK to become a full-time counsel and, as he confesses, one day hopefully a senior counsel.


Uber Cabs: In the soup
Uber Cabs: In the soup

Deals & cases

One of the biggest media storms has descended on multi-billion Silicon Valley darling (and whipping boy) Uber cabs. Khaitan & Co is advising the company on its legal troubles, while ex-Amarchand partner Suhaan Mukerji's start-up PLR has been handling "government relations" (aka public policy, lobbying, whateveryoucallit). And to be fair, the way the radio-taxi regulators have been sleeping on the job, some explanation of the ground realities is probably overdue.

Though the real damage might end up hitting Uber in a US court, according to reports that the alleged rape victim has now briefed New York counsel and is planning a negligence action in the US.


Prashant Bhushan: Mastering the PIL art-form
Prashant Bhushan: Mastering the PIL art-form

Best of the rest

Court Witness has set (as always) sharp sights on the inimitable Prashant Bhushan: In the process CW's also penned a brief history of the PIL, of which Bhushan is an undisputed master. Read more >

Did you ever wonder what happens if you really go for it and pick fights with the bench at nearly every opportunity? Advocate Deepak Khosla is finding out (so you don't have to), though he's uncowed by the Delhi HC throwing the rulebook at him and banning him from appearing in Delhi courts without a chaperon for a year. Read more >

SILF permafrost on foreign firms thaw: One story that, though mostly symbolic at this point, could be hugely important going forward, is that the chairman of the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF), Lalit Bhasin, said he wouldn't mind if foreign law firms entered in the next five to seven years. Read more >

An end to an eon of bias: Supreme Court judicial clerks, who until now have only hailed from the so-called elite of national law schools, can now come from any law school. Let's see how that works out in practice. Read more >

Jindal performs above par: Jindal Global Law School, a college that remains divisive as ever in the fraternity over its high fees juxtaposed with its self-stated mission to actually impart a quality legal education, has revealed the results of its first graduating batch. And guess what, they're actually pretty good. Read more >

And finally, find out the 3 biggest challenges that nearly every first generation litigation lawyer will face: Helpfully, rather than all complaints you'll also find some very helpful advice here from @atti_cus. Read more >


Did you enjoy our first newsletter of 2015?

Do you have any suggestions or ideas?

Please email us on - we'll be happy to hear from you.

And for those stories that didn't make it into this email, please browse to https://www.legallyindia.com/

And for the latest jobs in law firms and elsewhere, visit http://jobs.legallyindia.com/

Top photo by Felix O

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