Indian law firm J Sagar Associates has rapidly rebuilt its presence in the southern city of Chennai after merging with local M&A advisory firm Commercial Law Advisors.

Following the merger, which will be effective Oct. 1, CLA’s four partners and 17 associates will join JSA’s Chennai office. This will bring JSA’s total strength in the city to five partners and 20 associates, making it one of the largest law firms in that market, it said in a statement.

The announcement comes two months after the New Delhi-headquartered JSA lost a Chennai-based corporate team led by senior partner Aarthi Sivanandh, who left to set up the AZB & Partners office in the city. The departures left JSA with only one partner and one associate in Chennai.

CLA co-founder Varun Sriram, who was previously a partner in JSA’s Chennai office, rejoins the firm as equity partner. Sriram is a transactional attorney with expertise in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, automobile and financial services sectors. Prior to joining JSA in 2015 for a two-year stint, Sriram was a partner at HSB Partners.

“Returning to JSA feels like coming home,” Sriram said in a statement.

Joining Sriram are CLA partners Bhavya Sriram, Akshaya Suresh and Aravind Raj.

Bhavya Sriram, who co-founded law firm VB Legal with Varun Sriram in 2017, was a former independent practitioner who focused on real estate, employment law and estate planning matters.

VB Legal was re-branded as Commercial Law Advisors in 2021 after the addition of technology and data protection attorney Akshaya Suresh. Prior to joining CLA, Suresh held a senior in-house position at SaaS solution provider Freshworks.

Raj is a real estate and infrastructure attorney who joined CLA as a partner in 2021. He has previously worked at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, and HSB Partners.

JSA has been rapidly expanding its presence across the country this year. In Mumbai, it hired capital markets partner Mathew Thomas, a four-member corporate team from Desai & Diwanji, and Varun Sehgal, VP legal of Oyo. In Gurugram, it hired partners Anirudh Kapoor, Gaurav Wahie, and Shraddha Krishnan Dash.

However, JSA also lost a team of corporate lawyers to IndusLaw, led by partner Shantanu Jindel, earlier this year, apart from the departure of Sivanandh.