Amid global economic chaos, 2008 saw some of the most memorable achievements by Indian lawyers in recent times. India Business Law Journal is proud to recognize and reward the country’s top law firms in 15 key practice areas. Vandana Chatlani reports

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. 2008 witnessed some of the most challenging market conditions since India opened its doors to the outside world in 1991. Yet amid the chaos, the year also saw some of the most memorable corporate deals, law firm achievements and legal market developments of recent times.

Reliance Power broke records with its US$2.93 billion initial public offering; Trilegal announced a tie-up with magic circle firm Allen & Overy (to be followed this year by AZB & Partners’ tie-up with Clifford Chance); Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo pulled off the largest listed-company deal in India’s history with its acquisition of Ranbaxy; FoxMandal Little opened a London office and completed yet another law firm merger; Tata acquired British icons Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford; Marezban and Alka Bharucha, equity partners at Amarchand Mangaldas, departed with a team of associates to set up their own firm; the State Bank of India completed a US$4.1 billion equity rights issue; Khaitan & Co bucked international recruitment trends by poaching the partner in charge of the India group at London-based Ashurst; China and India raced to finalize their competition legislation; and the global markets received a severe lashing that left law firms with the enormous task of picking up the pieces.

In such extraordinary times, the task of judging India Business Law Journal’s Indian Law Firm Awards was far from straightforward. In reaching its final decisions, the editorial team used a combination of objective data and subjective analysis. A detailed questionnaire was sent to more than 500 India-focused corporate counsel and business leaders in India and around the world. A similar questionnaire was sent to partners at more than 200 Indian and international law firms. Respondents were invited to nominate three Indian law firms in each of 15 practice areas. They were also invited to nominate firms in the category of best overall law firms. Indian firms that participated in the questionnaire were not permitted to nominate themselves.

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India Business Law Journal would like to thank all the corporate executives, in-house counsel and private practitioners who generously participated in the research for the Indian Law Firm Awards.