India Business Law Journal identifies 50 promising lawyers who are poised for greater success

In a time when demonstrating strong leadership potential is a quality essential to thriving in the legal industry, India Business Law Journal seeks to recognise India’s future legal leaders for their achievements and accomplishments.

Our future leaders are 50 young, dynamic lawyers who have caught the attention of clients, employers and partners for their dedication to the profession. Many future legal leaders have climbed the ranks in established firms, started their own firms and accomplished great achievements. The chosen lawyers have worked on critical matters for their firms, delivered solutions that make them the counsel of choice for clients and shown a tremendous work ethic.

This article highlights some of the achievements of these future legal leaders with testimonies from clients and peers who nominated them for the honour.

KNOWLEDGEABLE ADVISERS

Yashwant Rai Grover, a senior associate at Inttl Advocare in its prosecution team in New Delhi, is recommended as “highly knowledgeable and responsive” by Juan Carlos Hernandez, a partner at Basham Ringe y Correa SC in Mexico. Hernandez describes Grover as “client and business oriented”.

Grover began his career at Inttl Advocare in 2016 as an intellectual property associate and became a senior associate in 2019. His practice focuses on advising various industries on trademarks, copyright and designs.

Priyanka Sukhija, an in-house counsel at Zee Media Corporation, describes Grover as a “proficient lawyer, with in-depth knowledge of the subject [who] delivers sound legal advice”.

Bhushan Shah, a partner and head of the corporate practice at Mansukhlal Hiralal & Co in Mumbai, is credited with being “highly competent [and] knowledgeable” by Sharad Saraf, chair of Technocraft Industries (India). Another client, Pradyumna Agrawal, managing director at Temasek Holdings Investment Company in Singapore who has known Shah since 2008 when he worked for Drew and Napier, says: “He is a calm, cool and competent lawyer. We always find him hands-on with transactions.”

Shah is a practising solicitor, qualified in India and the UK, and has a Masters in Law from New York University School of Law. He focuses on corporate and commercial transactions specialising in real estate and general corporate law advisory.

Rahul Gulati, a partner at Talwar Thakore & Associates in Mumbai, is known as a “very knowledgeable B&F [banking and finance] and derivatives lawyer [who is] well versed in securities and trading regulations”, says Swagata Bhattacharya, head of legal at Credit Suisse India. “[Gulati] provides very thorough, reliable advice and [can] handle large volumes of transactions efficiently. He is unflappable in tough negotiations.”

Gulati has been with the firm since 2009 and, in the previous year, he advised the bookrunners on a USD500 million overseas bond offering from HCL America. His practice areas include debt capital markets, both international and onshore, structured finance, derivatives, and financial regulation advisory.

Rishabh Gupta, a partner at JSA in Gurugram, is recognised for “excellent acumen in private equity transactions, a well-rounded, sound grasp of corporate law, and easy to approach and interact with. [Gupta] has a knack of effectively dealing with clients and other transaction counsel,” says Rashmi Chendvankar, general counsel and company secretary at CitiusTech.

Moiz Rafique, managing partner at Privy Legal Service in Ahmedabad, is credited for his “brilliant knowledge and approach” by Honey Makhani, a director at Prince Spinners.

Aditya Chaturvedi, a director at Vallabh Bio Science, says Rafique “has helped our company in our toughest times when our managing director passed away”.

DEDICATED, DILIGENT, DETERMINED

Arjun Sarkar, associate vice president at ABFL, describes Parul Verma, a partner at Kochhar & Co in New Delhi, as “super diligent, [and an] out-of-the-box thinker”. Verma focuses on banking & finance, real estate and commercial contracts.

Verma joined Kochhar in late 2020 along with Pradeep Ratnam who was appointed senior partner and co-chair. Both joined from Krishnamurthy & Co.

Shanker Bhatia, SVP and head of project finance at Renew Power, said: “We worked with [Verma] in project finance transactions and she was very diligent and well cognisant of project timelines. She acted as a transactional lawyer and helped to achieve disbursement goals.”

Rishi Anand, a partner at DSK Legal in New Delhi, leads the firm’s technology practice and is known for his work ethic. Anand Tripurari, a corporate counsel for Amazon, says: “Anand is dedicated to his clients and has the ability to provide practical solutions on complex legal issues.”

Ragini Shah, a partner at Literati Juris in Mumbai, is credited as being dedicated and diligent. “In the five years I’ve known [Shah], she has always been the most dedicated professional with a zest and passion towards her work like no other,” says Vicente Servigon, CEO and founder of Matter (Ecuador).

Shah, a renowned patent lawyer, has advised the Indian Patent Office on drafting National Pharmaceutical Guidelines in 2014 to help change outdated patent regulations. She also works closely with international non-profit organisations to advise on policies for the artificial meat industry.

Another client says: “I have seen [Shah] working through holidays, days and nights, her passion and diligence have always amazed me. I nominate her for the quality of work she does and the international network of legal professionals she has maintained over the years.”

Rudra Pandey Kumar, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co in New Delhi, is called by clients “one of the busiest lawyers in the country”.

Among his notable deals in the previous year, he was the lead partner to advise Japanese agriculture and heavy equipment manufacturer Kubota Corporation when it increased its stake in Escorts in a USD1.2 billion deal.

His Japanese counterpart, Ryohei Kataoka, a lawyer at T&K Partners, says Kumar “ always provides us with strong support to lead Japanese companies”.

Lakshmi Raman, a partner at Numen Law Offices in its criminal litigation practice in Mumbai, is known as a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney. Sunil Suri from Epoch Marketing says Raman’s “wittiness and confidence give you assurance you are in safe hands. She is ambitious and a determined lawyer”.

Anubha Batra, director of TORAH Learning Solutions, credits Vara Gaur, principal associate at ORTIS Law in New Delhi, for being dedicated and diligent. Batra says: “She has gone above and beyond her due diligence for clients. She takes each project personally and dedicates all her energy.”

CLIENT-FOCUSED ABOVE ALL ELSE

Swagata Bhattacharya, head of legal at Credit Suisse India, recognises Rani as an upcoming professional with immense talent. She says Rani “is a sharp young partner whose capability belies her age. She is very hardworking, client focused and a tough negotiator”.

Ashwini Kakkar, managing partner at Indventure Partners, says Prithvi Rohan Kapur, counsel for SKAA Advocates and Solicitors in New Delhi, has “exceptional knowledge, diligence, strategic acumen”. Kakkar also said: “In my case, [Kapur] grasped business, strategised and crafted claims, convincingly argued [and] hand held the team to a favourable award.”

Kapur is recognised as a “bright and upcoming legal star” by Albin David Rebello, CEO at Developer Group. Kapur is a specialist commercial lawyer experienced in international commercial and treaty arbitration.

Veena Gopalakrishnan, a partner at AZB & Partners in Bengaluru, is “pragmatic, has a sound knowledge of law and is available when required”, says Harshitha Thammaiah, GC and senior director at Xiaomi India.

Gopalakrishnan has more than 13 years’ experience and specialises in employment law. Among her notable work in the past year, she advised Infor, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, on the Indian aspects of the sale of its global software business to Swedish industrial group Hexagon AB for USD2.75 billion.

Gopalakrishnan also advised Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Japan’s second largest lender by assets, in its 74.9% stake in Fullerton India for USD2 billion.

PROFESSIONAL APPROACH

Sukrit Kapoor, a partner designate at Hammurabi & Solomon in New Delhi, is a “technical expert and thoroughly professional”, said Rajinder Sharma, director for Cue Learn. Kapoor specialises in constitutional, corporate and commercial, insolvency and bankruptcy, civil and criminal law.

Tarun Khurana, a partner and IP attorney at Khurana & Khurana in New Delhi, is credited with being “highly professional and trustworthy” by Ankit Jhunjhunwala, director of Globe Cotyarn.

Atul Khosla, managing director for Spaceage Security Systems says: “I find [Khurana] to be professional in approach with clear guidance and an action plan without being overtly commercial. He knows his subject well, is concise and accurate in his opinion. He has a good gut feel, which helps when taking chances.”

Bomi Patel, an advocate at Bombay High Court, describes Saket Satapathy, a partner at Tuli & Co in Mumbai, as “a brilliant lawyer who works with passion, dedication and professionalism. He is one of the best attorneys I have worked with”. Satapathy handles matters related to international and domestic arbitrations, writs, commercial law, insurance, white-collar crime, and insolvency and bankruptcy law.

“[Satapathy’s] legal acumen and knowledge (for someone his age) surpasses some of the best I’ve had dealings with in the profession, and definitely deserves a special note and recognition,” said Anandh Venkataramani, an advocate.

Anand Lakra, a partner at JSA in Mumbai, is described as “a thorough professional with [a] clear understanding of client requirements and effective time management” by Adireddy B, company secretary at Aurobindo Pharma.

In the previous year, Lakra advised Baring Private Equity Asia in its USD1.2 billion acquisition of Hinduja Global Solutions’ healthcare services business. The healthcare business had more than 20,000 employees in India, the Philippines, the US and Jamaica.

Lakra’s expertise focuses on transactions involving publicly traded companies and securities law. He specialises in domestic and cross-border transactions including takeovers, M&A, private equity, and joint ventures.

Rahul Chugh, an investment professional at Matrix Partners, says Lakra is “among the top 1% of lawyers” he has worked with during his career as a banker and investor.

Kunal Tandon, managing partner of Tandon & Co in New Delhi, is recognised as an individual with immense “professionalism and in-depth knowledge” by Atul Aggarwal, general manager and legal company secretary at 9X Media.

Tandon has expertise in M&A, foreign exchange and FDI, media & entertainment, and banking & finance.

METHODOLOGY

In November and December 2021, India Business Law Journal invited thousands of in-house counsel in India and around the world, and India-focused partners at international law firms, to nominate outstanding Indian lawyers in several categories, including rising stars who are seen as the future leaders of India’s legal profession.

More than 2,000 nominations and supporting remarks were received from professionals at a wide range of Indian and international organisations, including: ABN, Accela Fiduciary, Accenture, Acciona Energy, Adani Enterprise, Adarsh Group of Hotels, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance, Agriculture Insurance Company of India, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority, AkzoNobel, Alen lifesciences, Alpha Capital, Amazon, American Express, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, Ansal Housing & Construction, Ashok Leyland, Ashurst, AstraZeneca, Aurobindo Pharma, Bajaj Electricals, Baker McKenzie, Barclays, BharatPe, Bird & Bird, Birla Sunlife Insurance, Bosch, Boston Scientific, Brambles, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Burford Capital, Cadila Healthcare, Canon, Carpediem Capital, Castrol, CCPIT Patent and Trademark Law Office, Clyde & Co, CMS, Corning, Credit Suisse, Cummins, DBS Bank, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Dexter Capital Advisors, Dorsey & Whitney, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance Company, Ernst & Young, Everstone Capital Advisors, Fertilizer Corporate of India, Flipkart, Foley & Lardner, Ford, Freshfields, G4S, Gail, GoDaddy, Google, Government of India, Havells, HDFC Bank, Hengeler Mueller, Hexaware Technologies, Hitachi, Hogan Lovells, Honda, Housing and Urban Development Corporation, Hyundai, ICICI Bank, IDP Education, Indiabulls, Indus Towers, Infosys, InterGlobe, Jackson, Etti & Edu, JP Morgan Chase, Julius Baer, Karvy Capital, Kennedys, Knight Frank, KPMG, LG Electronics, Linklaters, Lodha Group, Mahindra Logistics, Malindo Air, Matrix Partners, McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz, Merlin Entertainments, Michelin Tyres, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Mondelez, Morgan Stanley, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, Nestle, NIIF Infrastructure Finance, Nippon Paint, Nishimura & Asahi, Nissan, Novistra Capital, Oracle, Panasonic, Pearson, Pernod Ricard, Philips, Pillsbury Withrop Shaw Pittman, Piramal Capital & Housing Finance, PwC, Rajah & Tann, Reebok, Reliance Industries, ReNew Power, Saama Capital, Sahara, Samsung, Scania, Schenker, Seuqoia Capital, Shree Ram Enterprises, Sidley Austin, Simmons & Simmons, Sony Pictures Networks, Squire Patton Boggs, Standard Chartered Bank, Star India, Stephenson Harwood, Sterlite Power Transmission, Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank, Tata Capital, Tech Mahindra, The Atlantic, The Times Group, Toshiba, TVS Automobile, UK India Business Council, UTI Capital, Veeba Food Services, Viacom18, Walmart, Wockhardt, Xiaomi, Zee Media, and hundreds more Indian and international companies, financial institutions and foreign law firms.

Lawyers working at Indian law firms were not permitted to make nominations.

The final list of future legal leaders reflects the nominations received and references provided by those who made nominations, combined with the India Business Law Journal editorial team’s more than 50 years’ collective experience in documenting and analysing India’s legal market.

All Indian private practice lawyers who are currently associated with Indian law firms were automatically eligible for inclusion in the nomination process and, as always, there were no fees or other requirements for entry. Senior counsel and independent lawyers’ chambers were not included.

The names and photographs of all 50 future legal leaders are published on the following pages. Each lawyer was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details, for which a publishing fee was charged. It is important to note that, while the compilation of the future legal leaders was based solely on independent editorial research, the biographies and contact details that appear alongside many of the listings have been written by the participating lawyers and the content has not been independently verified by India Business Law Journal.

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