A recruitment merry-go-round is providing opportunities for search firms and reshaping the landscape of India’s legal market

Vandana Chatlani reports

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” These words from Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu might help explain the shuffles, fractures and rumbles within India’s legal market today.

It would be false to claim that these are new phenomena. Lawyers have always jumped from firm to firm, clinched in-house roles or pursued litigation work as a means to further their career prospects. The difference today is the escalation of such moves and the swiftness with which they are occurring.

The break-up of Amarchand Mangaldas propelled these shifts to a large extent. The idea that loyalists such as Akshay Chudasama of J Sagar Associates (JSA) and Shuva Mandal of AZB & Partners could leave to join Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (SAM) was unheard of. And these are only two examples of high profile partner exits. The market also saw Ravindra Bandhakavi exit the erstwhile Amarchand for Trilegal; Harry Chawla and Manishi Pathak leave Kochhar & Co for Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM); Kaushik Mukherjee move from JSA to BMR Legal; Avirup Nag and Navin Syiem move from HSA Advocates to IndusLaw; Ashwath Rau depart CAM and Aparna Mittal leave Luthra & Luthra for AZB; Rahul Ray and Vikram Bajaj go from Kochhar & Co to Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan; and Amitabh Sharma exit Khaitan & Co to become HSA’s managing partner.

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