Law firms up and down the country reel as rival recruitment sprees by competing Shroffs rob them of top talent. Vandana Chatlani reports
Hearing the names “SAM” and “CAM” bandied about India’s legal market, it is hard not to think of Green Eggs and Ham, the popular children’s book written and illustrated by Dr Seuss. The mastermind of those simple, catchy rhymes was Theodor Seuss Geisel, a talented American writer and cartoonist, whose successful career spanned children’s books, comic strips, advertising campaigns and political cartoons.
Similarly, the men behind India’s deceptively simple SAM (Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co) and CAM (Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas) are legal forces to reckon with. For 21 years, brothers Shardul and Cyril Shroff were the managing partners of the country’s largest law firm. But on 9 May, after six months of mediation, the firm was dissolved as the brothers parted ways to set up their own practices. Now, they head up not one, but two legal powerhouses. With assets, resources and offices divided, competition is at the forefront of their minds as they forge fresh partnerships and build new fortresses through intensive recruitment drives.
“It’s a major change in our legal industry,” says Shiraz Patodia, a partner at Dua Associates who SAM recently recruited. “We haven’t seen something like this happen for the last 30 years … every firm is impacted by this change in some way.”