Shroffs stay on top of law firm league

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES BUSINESS - @times­

Mumbai: The di­vi­sion of the coun­try’s big­gest law firm, Amarc­hand & Man­gal­das, among the two broth­ers, Shardul and Cyril Shroff, has led to a new peck­ing or­der in In­dia’s legal ser­vices in­dus­try. The numero uno po­si­tion, which was held by the un­di­vided Amarc­hand & Man­gal­das for years, will now be held by Cyril Amarc­hand Man­gal­das, one of the newly carved out out­fits, while the sec­ond po­si­tion will be taken by Shardul Amarc­hand Man­gal­das, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try track­ers.

As a re­sult of the re-align­ment, AZB & Part­ners, which un­til now was at No.2, has been pushed one notch lower fol­lowed by Khai­tan & Co and JSA. The top five firms, known in in­dus­try par­lance as the ‘magic cir­cle’, have been in­volved in most of the prom­i­nent and big merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions (M&A) trans­ac­tions in the coun­try.

Luthra & Luthra, which was at the fifth po­si­tion, will now fall out of the top five band.

“There will be one more com­peti­tor in the mar­ket,” said Rabindra Jhun­jhun­wala, part­ner at Khai­tan & Co.

Ac­cord­ing to the ar­range­ment, Amarc­hand & Man­gal­das, which was founded by Shardul and Cyril’s grand­fa­ther, Amarc­hand Shroff, in 1917, has been split equally be­tween the sib­lings, with Shardul get­ting the Delhi re­gion which in­cludes Kolkata, Ahmed­abad and Gur- gaon of­fices, and Cyril bag­ging the Mumbai re­gion which in­cludes Ban­ga­lore, Chen­nai and Hy­der­abad of­fices. Both also have the right to op­er­ate in each other’s ter­ri­tory. With the Shroffs be­gin­ning their re­spec­tive innings, both have be­gun build­ing their fran­chises, net­works and teams.

An e-mail sent to Shardul and AZB’s Zia Mody didn’t elicit any re­sponse while Cyril couldn’t be reached for im­me­di­ate com­ments.

“Clients will be the big­gest ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this split as both (Shardul and Cyril) will vie for the same set of cus­tomers. They will have a war chest and will be will­ing to work at a com­pet­i­tive fee, putting pres­sure on pric­ing in the in­dus­try,” said Su­j­jain Tal­war, found­ing part­ner of Eco­nomic Laws Prac­tice, which has now been pushed to the ninth slot in the rank­ings. In fis­cal 2015, the com­bined rev­enue of In­dian law firms do­ing com­mer­cial and cor­po­rate work was nearly $1 bil­lion.

In­dus­try bases law firm rank­ings on the rev­enue gen­er­ated by them, num­ber of lawyers and part­ners in the firm and their client cov­er­age. Ac­cord­ing to re­searcher RSG Con­sult­ing, Amarc­hand & Man­gal­das has been at the top on its list of In­dia’s top 40 legal firms since 2008, when the UK-based com­pany be­gan op­er­a­tions.

“If we ranked the new Amarc­hand law firms, we would ex­pect one of them to stay at the top…How­ever, the rank­ings may change af­ter a year of them op­er­at­ing separately, and we’d ex­pect to see the firms dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves and their mar­ket po­si­tions,” said Yas­min Lam­bert, part­ner and se­nior con­sul­tant, RSG Con­sult­ing.

Mean­while, the two fac­tions of the erst­while Amarc­hand & Man­gal­das have moved quickly to fill in the gaps cre­ated due to the split, lead­ing to a flurry of ac­tiv­ity by them in the mar­ket. Both are in the midst of giv­ing new iden­ti­ties to their busi­nesses even as they look to ramp up of­fice space, clients and staff.

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