India Business Law Journal presents its list of 50 up and coming law firms
Jostling for position, arguably a useful skill when employed in moderation, has been elevated to a high art form in India, be it on busy highways or in professional life. While six or seven law firms dominate the legal market, a universe of medium and small firms of varying expertise and reputation are elbowing their way forward.
The vast majority may not capture the attention of international clients and their ilk. Yet several will be sought out when clients need outside counsel and seek it in firms beyond the market leaders. Competition within this section of the legal market is intense, but some firms appear to show more potential than others.
India Business Law Journal’s Rising Stars honours 50 small and medium-sized firms that we believe should be on the discerning in-house lawyer’s radar. While several are newcomers to India Business Law Journal’s Rising Stars list, firms that were on the list in previous years – such as Chandhiok and Mahajan, which is much sought after for its competition law practice, and intellectual property boutique Fidus Law Chambers – are now recognized for their market leading practices.
In shining a spotlight on the 50 firms currently being honoured, India Business Law Journal applauds their promise and showcases their talent for our readers and their potential clients.
|Law firm||Managing partner|
|ABH Law||Munaf Virjee|
|Acuity Law||Souvik Ganguly|
|Agama Law Associates||Archana Balasubramanian, Nitin Jain|
|Agram Legal Consultants||Vaishali Sharma|
|Algo Legal||Sandeep Kapoor|
|Alpha Partners||Akshat Pande|
|Anoma Legal||Abhinav Singh|
|AP & Partners||Anand Prasad|
|ASC Legal||Aseem Chawla|
|ASM Law Offices||Shikha Sachdev|
|Athena Legal||Rajat Prakash|
|Atlas Law Partners||Harry Chawla|
|Aureus Law Partners||Abhishek Dutta|
|BTG Legal||Prashant Mara|
|Burgeon Law||Roma Priya|
|Capstone Legal||Ashish Kumar Singh, Vagish Kumar Singh|
|Clove Legal||Amit Sirsikar|
|Federal & Company||M S Federal|
|Halder & Associates||Ajoy Halder|
|Ikigai Law||Anirudh Rastogi|
|India Law Offices||Gautam Khurana|
|Keystone Partners||Pradeep Nayak|
|Law Offices of Panag and Babu||Sherbir Panag|
|Lawyers at Work||Talha Salaria|
|Legasis Partners||Suhas Tuljapurkar|
|Lex Consult||Majid Afsar Siddiqui, Naresh Pareek|
|Lex Favios||Sumes Dewan|
|LexRidge Partners||Amitabh Sharma|
|MD&T Partners||Mahesh Devaiah, PM Thimmaiah|
|MHA Legal||Manish Tyagi|
|MSA Partners||Manu Seshadri|
|Neeti Niyaman||Sakya Chaudhuri|
|Ortis Law Offices||Sandeep Grover|
|Parinam Law Associates||Hitesh Jain|
|Pier Counsel||Anand Kumar|
|Pioneer Legal||Satish Kishanchandani|
|Rajaram Legal||Archana Rajaram|
|Rashmikant & Partners||C Rashmikant|
|RRG & Associates||Ranjana Roy Gawai|
|Saakshya Law||Siddharth Raja|
|Sarvada Legal||S Seetharaman|
|Singularity Legal||Prateek Bagaria
|Spice Route Legal||Mathew Chacko, Praveen Raju|
|V Law Partners||Vivek Daswaney|
|Vashi and Vashi||Vivek Vashi|
|Verist Law||Srishti Ojha|
|Vertices Partners||Vinayak Burman|
|Zerick Dastur, Advocates & Solicitors||Zerick Dastur|
Note: Firms are listed alphabetically and not in rank order
Reputations to live up to
The 50 firms are of varying size and vintage, yet all demonstrate an innate capability, either on account of the track record of the firm, or as a result of a widening of key expertise, or recent re-orienting of the firm’s way forward. The upward trajectory that India Business Law Journal believes lies ahead for several recently established firms is often as a result of the expertise, experience and reputation of their founders, who may have peeled off from top-level law firms.
One such firm is Ortis Law Offices, set up in August by Sandeep Grover, a former partner at Indus Law. Bill Weisel, GC of the Singapore-listed company Sarine Technologies, is confident that the seven-lawyer firm “will be a market leader in the near future”. His reason: The New Delhi-based firm comprises “talented, creative, resourceful and result-oriented lawyers [who] have successfully navigated our cases through the trial courts, appellate courts and the Supreme Court”.
Weisel, who has extensive experience in litigation in the US, Israel and other countries, says Grover, while at his former firm Indus Law, and his team impressed with their capabilities and eagerness to handle complex and contentious litigation in India. “Working with the team is a pleasure and I am sure they will make a mark for themselves in the Indian legal establishment,” he adds.
Another New Delhi firm is newly minted AP & Partners, which is expected to go a long way given that its founder, Anand Prasad, was also a founding partner of Trilegal. The New Delhi-based firm recently advised Car24, a tech-enabled used car company, when it raised fresh capital of US$100 million. AP & Partners currently has four partners and five associates.
Pioneer Legal may be a new kid on the block, but the Mumbai-based firm similarly carries the clout of being set up by a former founding partner of DSK-Legal, Satish Kishanchandani.
What follows is information on a selection of the 50 rising star law firms, many of which are based in Mumbai and Delhi.
Mumbai-based Verist Law, headed by Srishti Ojha, continues to attract attention. David Cameron, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, says Ojha’s firm has outlasted others set up by lawyers who similarly broke off from larger firms. The 12-lawyer firm’s clients include ICICI Securities and IDBI Capital, real estate developers in Mumbai and Bengaluru, and venture capital firms such as Orios Venture Partners.
Also in Mumbai is Legasis Partners, headed by Suhas Tuljapurkar, which appears to be on an upward trajectory especially following the very recent hire of Gautam Bhatikar, who was formerly senior partner at Kochhar & Co and head of its maritime practice. A client who uses the services of senior partner Gautam Bhatikar and partner Kailash Lad, remarks “both are excellent to work with”.
Lex Consult is a Mumbai-based firm established in 2018 by two former Trilegal lawyers Majid Afsar Siddiqui and Naresh Pareek. The firm recently advised Mestech, a global supplier of manufacturing operations management and manufacturing execution solutions headquartered in Pune, when it was acquired by New York-listed Rockwell.
Zerick Dastur Advocates & Solicitors is a 12-lawyer firm established in 2017 by Zerick Dastur, who was formerly at J Sagar Associates. The firm recently acted for PricewaterhouseCoopers when it successfully appealed a Securities and Exchange Board of India order banning it from auditing any listed company for two years. Applauding the firm’s ability to find alternative legal points and arguments to strengthen a legal case, Atul Juvle, GC, compliance officer and company secretary – India and South Asia at Schindler India, says: “For complicated and legal matters [Dastur] is the best option.”
Also in Mumbai is ABH Law, which is of a similar vintage. The seven-lawyer firm is headed by Munaf Virjee, a former partner at DSK Legal, and is reputed for its expertise in intellectual property and arbitration matters.
Vivek Daswaney, a Mumbai lawyer, returned with his team earlier this year to V Law Partners, a firm that he set up in 2009. Daswaney had been most recently at Indus Law and before that at DH Law. The two-partner, six-lawyer firm provides services in M&A and general corporate, employment and real estate.
Neeti Niyaman set up in 2017 and, headed by Sakya Chaudhuri, may not have added many lawyers but continues to impress. Ancy Jacob De, chief manager – legal and compliance at Petronet LNG, describes the firm as one that comprises “people who administer law with a human touch but at the same time [are] very professional”. The firm has offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.
Ikigai Law is a 20-lawyer firm that is reputed for its technology policy related expertise. The New Delhi-based firm, headed by Anirudh Rastogi, was known as TRA Law until 2018.
Pedigree, performance counts
The parting of ways of the founders of the highly rated Mumbai firm of Federal & Rashmikant at the end of 2017, saw the creation of two firms: Federal & Company, and Rashmikant & Partners. Both are rising stars given the stellar reputations of their managing partners, MS Federal, a real estate stalwart, and C Rashmikant, a highly sought -after litigation lawyer. In addition, the firms have the benefit of the fresh talent of a younger generation of lawyers, which has included the sons of the two founders.
Federal & Company has three partners and 12 lawyers, and its focus is in complex real estate transactional work and dispute resolution. Meanwhile, Rashmikant & Partners has five partners and 22 associates, and focuses on commercial, white collar and real estate litigation and arbitration.
Sarvada Legal, which was until recently Seetharaman & Associates, comprises seven partners, all of whom are Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan alumni. Founded in 2017 by S Seetharaman, a former equity partner at Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, the firm has been steadily attracting expertise, including most recently three from the litigation team of Economic Laws Practice.
Mumbai-based Anoma Legal, which has offices also in Bengaluru and New Delhi, continues to make waves after being set up in 2018 by seven former K Law partners. The firm has been adding lawyers and in May grew its partnership to 12 through internal promotions. An impressed observer describes the partners as “level headed” and applauds partner Sankar Swamy in particular for “making commercially feasible suggestions to overcome issues” while representing clients.
Algo Legal prides itself on being a technology-driven full-service firm and carries with it the promise of its founder, Sandeep Kapoor, a former GC of Sequoia Capital. The Bengaluru-based firm aims to cater to investors and startups. Algo Legal says it has three offices and 50 lawyers, and that it is currently advising more than 40 companies in sectors including pharma, e-commerce and fintech.
Jaipur-based Capstone Legal is headed by two brothers: Ashish Kumar Singh and Vagish Kumar Singh. Rajiv Choubey, chief legal officer and company secretary at ACC, a Lafarge-Holcim subsidiary, is all praise. He says their “understanding of law and practical handling of the cases has been superb”, adding that the firm provides “excellent services and it is really heartening to have such good young lawyers in a place like Jaipur”. The 10-lawyer firm has an office in New Delhi.
Law Offices of Panag & Babu, a 30-lawyer firm with offices in New Delhi and Bengaluru, is reputed for its white-collar crime practice. Founding partner Sherbir Panag reports that the firm is on “almost every prominent matter” in the country.
Lawyers at Work is that rare breed of law firm with an all-women staff. Headed by Talha Salaria, the six-lawyer Bengaluru firm prides itself on its M&A practice. Clients include staffing services company TeamLease Services, which the firm advised earlier this year when it acquired the IT staffing business of human resources services firm eCentric Solutions. Lawyers at Work also acted on the India leg of a transaction in which a global integrated healthcare solutions company, Cardinal Health, acquired patient adherence and engagement solutions provider, mscripts.
Bengaluru-based MD&T Partners, headed by Mahesh Devaiah and PM Thimmaiah, has several loyal clients who are all praise for its professionalism. Thomas Mathew, vice president – finance and operations at enterprise software provider Campus Management International, says the firm has “always gone the extra mile to provide us services”. He also commends the firm for its “well drafted and thorough documentation, as well as negotiating skills”.
MHA Legal, set up earlier this year, is applauded by Aditya Krishnan a patent lawyer at LKGlobal, for being a firm that is “totally solution-oriented with a pragmatic and practical approach ensuring that the client leaves their doorstep absolutely satisfied and pleased”. Headed by Manish Tyagi, formerly with Deloitte, the firm has four partners and offices in Gurugram and Bengaluru.
PM Devaiah, partner and GC at Everstone Capital, is all praise for intellectual property boutique ASM Law Offices. Describing the firm’s managing partner, Shikha Sachdev as “very sharp, very result-oriented”, Devaiah says a lot of his company’s trademark work is currently handled by ASM Law Offices. The six-lawyer firm has expertise in all aspects of intellectual property law, except patent law.
We are confident that clients will find that all 50 Rising Stars are similarly result-oriented.