JAN FEB 2024 India is poised to sustain its economic growth momentum in the fiscal year 2025, anticipating a growth rate of around 7 percent. The country’s expected outperformance compared to the global economy has been attributed to stable domestic demand and private investment, on the back of past government reforms, and further underpins India’s economic resilience in the face of global economic challenges. This sustained economic growth is proving to be a boon for corporate law firms, which are poised to reap significant benefits from the flourishing business landscape. As the economy expands at a robust pace, corporate activities such as M&As, business expansions, and capital market transactions expected to surge even further. In the latter space, India witnessed the launch of 57 mainboard IPOs in 2023, and certain sectors, including defence, realty, autos, PSEs, and pharma, stood out as major performers. Corporate law firms are witnessing a surge in advisory mandates, transactional work, and litigation, as businesses navigate complex legal frameworks to capitalize on growth opportunities. As India’s economy continues on its growth trajectory, corporate law firms stand to benefit from the expanding market, presenting lucrative opportunities for legal practitioners and firms alike. – RANAJIT DAM INDIA POWERS ON Bingqing Wang Rankings Editor Rowena Muniz Copy & Web Editor John Agra Senior Designer Rozidah Jambari Traffic / Circulation Manager Krupa Dalal Sales Manager (91) 87 7967 7503 Ranajit Dam Managing Editor Amantha Chia Head of Legal Media Business, Asia & Emerging Markets Nimitt Dixit Asia Writer

2 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 LAW FIRM Ajay Bhadu 34, Emerald Law Offices Ankit Bhasin 32, Burgeon Law Siddhant Chamola 34, Anand and Anand Palecanda Medappa Chinnappa 39, IndusLaw Shoubhik Dasgupta 38, Pioneer Legal Deepak Deshmukh 39, Naik Naik & Co Aditya Vikram Dua 36, SNG & Partners Mani Gupta 38, Sarthak Advocates & Solicitors Kartik Jain 38, JSA Akanksha Kar 36, LexOrbis Ishan Khanna 39, Legacy Law Offices Priyanka Kumar 38, TT&A Angira Singhvi Lodha 38, Khaitan & Khaitan Nirupam Lodha 39, Khaitan & Co Ankur Loona 37, Alliance Law Udit Mendiratta 36, Argus Partners Kunal Mimani 34, Fox & Mandal Divya Mundra 38, AZB & Partners Ramnath Prabhu 39, TLC Legal Namrita Raghuwanshi 36, TPM Solicitors & Consultants In the spotlight ALB INDIA RISING STARS 2024 India is home to a new generation young and talented lawyers who are making a significant impact in the legal field. They are recognised for their skills and dedication and are contributing to the country’s development. This year, ALB is celebrating the selection of India’s most promising legal minds under the age of 40. The list is in alphabetical order, and some lawyers have been profiled. LIST BY ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS, TEXT BY BINGQING WANG communities, and using strategic litigation to tackle pressing issues like climate change and data privacy. From championing legal aid to launching innovative legal tech startups, their impact is undeniable. These young minds are not only shaping the legal profession but also influencing the country’s social and economic trajectory. India’s legal landscape is experiencing a transformation, driven by a generation of young lawyers who are redefining success in the field. They are not just courtroom warriors, but tech-savvy changemakers wielding the law to create a more just and equitable society. They are leveraging technology to streamline processes, advocating for marginalised

3 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM Ajay Bhadu, a partner at Emerald Law Offices, is one such example. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Bhadu has carved a niche in navigating complex corporate and real estate transactions. He is known for his strategic guidance, helping diverse clients navigate intricate negotiations and secure regulatory approvals. His expertise spans the Companies Act, foreign exchange laws, and various commercial regulations. Beyond professional acumen, Bhadu’s commitment extends to pro bono work, mentoring junior colleagues, and co-founding Emerald Law Offices, a firm recognised for its innovative solutions. Another legal force shaping different industries is Angad Varma, a partner at Dua Associates with 17 years of experience. He has tackled intricate financial matters, playing a key role in Piramal Capital’s acquisition of stressed accounts in the DHFL takeover. His sharp litigation skills shone through in defending Indus Motors in a major shareholder dispute and securing a landmark labour case defining “workman.” He also demonstrates versatility in handling intellectual property and real estate disputes, showcasing his ability to adapt to various legal challenges. His dedication extends beyond professional pursuits, as he actively supports socio-economic development through pro bono legal services. “This shift in legal practice reflects a broader societal transformation in India. As the country grapples with rapid urbanisation, economic growth, and social inequalities, the demand for legal services that address these challenges is growing exponentially.” These young legal minds, of whom we’ve only glimpsed a few, are actively shaping the future of India’s legal landscape. Their stories echo a powerful, unifying theme: a deep commitment to wielding their expertise not for personal gain, but for a more just and equitable society. This dedication fuels groundbreaking initiatives like harnessing AI to streamline pro bono legal aid, Angad Varma BROUGHT TO YOU BY DUA ASSOCIATES Angad is a partner with Dua Associates who specializes in dispute resolution and is based out of their Gurgaon office. He is an alumnus of Symbiosis Law School, Pune. He is enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi and a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association. He is regarded by his clients for his ability to find constructive and innovative solutions to complex legal issues. He provides each client with a customized tailor-made solution to address specific legal and factual issues, keeping in mind the commercial viability, in order to prioritize the client’s interest at all times. He actively advises government enterprises, international and domestic corporations, and individual clients on a variety of legal matters. He has vast experience in litigation matters pertaining to insolvency and bankruptcy, contracts, company law, constitutional law, consumer law, debt recovery law, dishonour of cheques, environmental law, foreign exchange law, labour and employment law, land acquisition law, intellectual property law and real estate/property law. He regularly appears before the Supreme Court, various High Courts and Tribunals. Angad has been at the forefront in developing and scaling the Insolvency and Bankruptcy practice at Dua Associates. He has represented clients in numerous landmark cases in relation to insolvency laws in India which are now cited as precedents. He has also authored several published articles pertaining to the evolving jurisprudence on insolvency laws in India. Over time he has represented all stakeholders involved in the insolvency process cycle be it Financial Creditors, Operational Creditors, Creditors in Class, Corporate Debtors, Guarantors, Resolution Applicants, Resolution Professionals, Liquidators, or the Committee of Creditors. His array of clients includes major financial institutions, banks, nonbanking financial institutions, asset reconstruction accompanies, AIFs, MNCs and public sector undertakings. Angad Varma Partner at Dua Associates Insolvency, Bankruptcy, Corporate & Commercial Litigation E: Dua Associates W:

4 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 legal profession; they are changing the face of India itself. Their dedication, innovation, and social responsibility are paving the way for a future where the law serves not just as a tool for resolving disputes, but as a catalyst for positive social change. As they continue to challenge the status quo and push boundaries, they offer a glimpse into a future where India’s legal system serves the needs of all its citizens, promoting equality, justice, and progress for generations to come. championing environmental causes through strategic litigation, and launching cutting-edge legal tech solutions to bridge the gap in access to affordable legal services, especially in underserved rural communities. This shift in legal practice reflects a broader societal transformation in India. As the country grapples with rapid urbanisation, economic growth, and social inequalities, the demand for legal services that address these challenges is growing exponentially. Young lawyers are responding to this demand with innovative solutions and a deepseated commitment to social justice. Their impact extends beyond individual cases and extends to shaping legal institutions and policies. They are actively engaged in advocating for legal reforms, promoting access to justice, and leveraging technology to improve the efficiency and transparency of the legal system. This active participation in shaping the legal landscape underscores their commitment to building a more just and equitable future for all. This new generation of legal visionaries is not just changing the face of the Nakul Sachdeva 38, Luthra and Luthra Law Offices Arati Sawant 39, Fox Mandal & Associates Nakul Sharedalal 39, NS Legal Dhruv Singh 38, G&W Legal Dhruv Singhal 39, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Tanya Uppal 36, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. Angad Varma 39, Dua Associates, Advocates & Solicitors Kaushalya Venkataraman 39, Chandhiok & Mahajan IN-HOUSE Jayesh Garg 34, Allegis Group India Anupa Sarah Mohan 39, Standard Chartered Bank Almas Nachan 34, Bayer Group India Ashok Nagarajan 36, Log 9 Materials Shyaam Nagarajan 39, Glance InMobi Group Lucky Popli 39, Grasim Industries (Aditya Birla Group) Namrata Saikia 37, Pepsico India Holdings Gagan Sharma 39, Play Games24x7 Eti Suri 38, Airbus India Iqbal Tauseef 35, TTEC METHODOLOGY Individuals needed to be under the age of 40 and based permanently in India. The list was chosen based on the following criteria: • Important deals or cases • Key clients • Significant accolades received in the form of public recognition, awards, etc. Image: Atstock Productions/

5 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BROUGHT TO YOU BY EMERALD LAW OFFICES What are the core elements and key steps in the legal framework of M&A transactions for acquisition of greenfield and operational solar projects? What challenges have you typically encountered in your experience, and what strategies can be employed to navigate them effectively? As India progresses towards its renewable energy targets, there has been a notable uptick in M&A activity within the solar project sector. We have been actively advising numerous clients in navigating this evolving landscape. In a greenfield solar project, the Solar Power Developer (“SPD”) typically aims to exit post securing a power purchase agreement (“PPA”) with the government or a private entity, often prior to finalizing land acquisition and prior to commencing other critical activities such as EPC and financial closure. The legal challenges faced in such acquisitions may vary depending on the specifics of each project. However, common challenges and potential strategies to address them include: 1. Diligence on the Project Company: Typically, the project company takes the form of a newly incorporated special purpose vehicle (SPV), simplifying the due diligence process on the SPV. Nonetheless, conducting a comprehensive review is recommended, encompassing compliance with Registrar of Companies (RoC) filings, assessment of outstanding liabilities, and verification that its Articles of Association permit engagement in solar projects etc. Additionally, any obtained licenses should be well scrutinized as part of the diligence process. Before finalizing acquisition documents, the purchaser typically evaluates the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and its financial terms. In cases of private PPAs, amendments may be requested based on the purchaser’s review. 2. Lock-in Period: In government projects, there is typically a restriction on changing the controlling shareholding of the project company for one year from the Commercial Operation Date (CoD). Consequently, equity share acquisition may occur in 2-3 phases. Initially, a partial share purchase allows the purchaser certain project decision-making rights without altering control of the Project Company. Subsequently, the remaining shares are acquired post lock-in period expiration. During this period, parties execute a shareholder’s agreement outlining the purchaser’s and seller’s rights and obligations regarding the project company, including Board structure, EPC and O&M appointments, and financial closure decisions. For private projects, the acquisition of the entire project company’s shares may also occur in multiple phases. 3. Land Diligence and Acquisition: As with any infrastructure endeavor, land holds paramount importance in a solar project. Before acquiring shares of the project company (and in phase I for government projects), the purchaser conducts meticulous land diligence. Identified issues are addressed with assistance from the seller, who becomes obligated to ensure the execution of binding land documents (sale deed or lease deed) with the project company. Simultaneously, the land title is transferred along with possession to the project company upon the purchase of phase I shares. 4. Payment of Consideration and Deal Structure: In cases where the project stakes are higher or involve government projects, the structuring can become more intricate. Structuring entails phased equity share purchases with varying consideration amounts, necessitating comprehensive tax advice. Each phase would entail distinct conditions precedent to be fulfilled by the seller, such as: (a) Clearing land title; (b) Arranging agreements with EPC and O&M Contractors to the purchaser’s satisfaction; (c) Achieving financial closure to the purchaser’s satisfaction; (d) Providing promoter guarantees to lenders, with the purchaser potentially replacing them upon final acquisition or offering backto-back guarantees to the seller; (e) Pledging shares, with the purchaser. In scenarios where a solar project has achieved commissioning and is fully operational, its structure mirrors a conventional M&A transaction. However, unlike greenfield projects, due diligence on the project becomes far more intricate, involving reviews of EPC and O&M Contracts, lending/financing documents, land documents and diligence, existing tax or other liabilities, and corporate compliances. If the acquisition is phased for commercial reasons, interim shareholder agreements may be necessary. During these stages, the purchaser may gain full control over the project company if permissible under the law. Additionally, both the purchaser and the seller would typically possess compulsory call options and options, respectively, ensuring the purchase and sale of all remaining shares of the project company. Beyond these considerations, further challenges may arise, with various approaches available to address them, contingent upon the transaction’s nature. In our experience with M&A transactions in the solar sector, whether representing the acquirer or seller, we’ve encountered varying degrees of complexity, often contingent upon the commercial intent of the parties involved. Nevertheless, despite the intricacies, it’s entirely feasible to navigate and address risks for both the buyer and seller, ensuring their interests are safeguarded in an equitable and neutral manner, ultimately benefiting both parties. A conversation with Madhavan Srivatsan Madhavan Srivatsan Senior Partner E: Emerald Law Offices G-2, Ground Floor, Anand Niketan, Benito Juarez Marg, South Moti Bagh, Delhi 110021 W:

6 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 Generative AI has arrived, and law might never be the same. A 2023 study by New Zealand-based AI solutions provider Onit compared the ability of large language models (LLMs), like ChatGPT, to review contracts with that of junior lawyers and legal process outsourcers. A few LLMs, including GPT4-1106 and Claude 2.0 identified contract issues with almost the same accuracy as LPOs and junior lawyers. Remarkably, while a junior lawyer took on average 56 minutes and an LPO 200 minutes to review the contract, LLMs completed the task in a matter of seconds. Equally notable is the stark difference in the average cost per document review. A junior lawyer would cost $74.26 per contract, an LPO $36.85, while LLM would cost under a dollar per contract. These are not just statistics; they signal a seismic shift in legal practice. The growth of specialised generative AI models is poised to become a game changer for law firms in terms of productivity and turnaround times for contract review. But the buck doesn’t stop there. Generative AI offers benefits in terms of increased capacity and scalability, improved and more expansive information analysis to factor into legal strategy and advice, personalised client advice and competitive intelligence, say Trilegal partner Nikhil Narendran. “It also provides more touchpoints for engaging with clients, such as offering chatbots and legal services platforms to provide legal advice at the first level,” Narendran says. “Ultimately, adoption of AI plays a significant role in making our professionals and firm future-ready and moving them up the value chain.” Indeed, the industry view is that the use of AI for automating repetitive work, frees up lawyers to allow them to focus on more crucial functions such as strategybuilding and team management. “It also gives time to start nurturing client relationships – something midlevel lawyers are unable to focus on and is becoming necessary in today’s time for them to deliver their true potential once they rise as a partner,” says Yavanika Shah, a practice development professional at IndusLaw. “I also think that law firms who adopt advanced technology will be able to retain top legal talent, especially from the younger generation who are comfortable with technology,” adds Shah, who recently authored a chapter in a book titled ‘Legal Operations in the Age of AI and Data.’ ADOPTION IN INDIA Leading law firms are responding to demands for innovation from clients to integrate generative AI into their workflows. Trilegal has been one of the firms leading the way on Gen AI adoption in India. The firm has constituted a Digital Innovation Group (DIG) as part of its efforts to render the law firm futureready to incorporate AI-based solutions, including generative AI, to bring about greater value to clients and the industry at large, Narendran says. “Initiatives in the process of being implemented include AI tools enabling better business and knowledge management by providing data insights and generating key driving points for various areas, AI-based dashboards for partners to obtain reports and actionable insights, AI-systems for research, drafting, due diligence and document management, as well as automation of administrative aspects such as resource planning, generation of templates and draft responses and preliminary briefs, and related solutions to improve operational efficiencies,” he adds. Other firms are not far behind. Nishith Desai Associates has developed an in-house Gen AI-based chatbot called NaiDA. “Built on the advanced GPT-4 model from OpenAI and hosted on AWS servers, NaiDA is designed to empower our lawyers with intelligent insights in their daily workflows,” the firm says. Meanwhile, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas started dabbling in machinelearning models as early as 2017, when it signed an agreement with Canada-based tech company Kira Systems to launch a customised tool to assist in contract review. LAW IN THE TIME OF ROBOTS Even as generative AI sweeps the globe, Indian law firms have been slow to embrace it. Those that have done, though, are encountering lower costs and shorter turnaround times. But as with any new technology, it’s critical that firms move carefully. BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: Andrey_Popov/

7 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM However, barring some industry leaders, LLM adoption in the Indian legal market has been slow despite its tangible, well-documented benefits. “The Indian legal-tech market is still fragmented - making it difficult for law firms to find solutions that specifically meet their needs. This coupled with traditional lawyer mindset and regulatory uncertainty, leads to a lot of evolution of the space to happen for the industry to fully utilise the potential,” Shah explains. Having said that, Shah has noticed an increased collaboration between law firms and legal-tech startups to create custom AI solutions for specific use-case and needs. There is also the growth of specialised AI solutions for specific practice areas like corporate law, intellectual property and disputes in the market, Shah adds. Notably, legal-tech tools are focusing on improving their user experience. “A lot of legal techs are coming up with not only user-friendly websites but also mobile apps, to make it easier for lawyers to input data on the go,” Shah explains. LET’S GET ETHICAL Early users of this nascent technology note that the adoption of Gen AI in the legal industry faces three stiff regulatory and ethical challenges: maintaining client confidentiality, compliance with data privacy laws and bias perpetuation. “All documents received and shared with a client are subject to confidentiality restrictions. This is particularly of concern since law firms are required to maintain (on a case-to-case basis) Chinese walls within the firm for certain client products/documents, which would need to be factored in while leveraging firm-wide data,” Narendran explains. Compliance with the recently enacted Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDP) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation also involves building significant data-related infrastructure, manpower and workflow by a law firm using Gen AI. “The DPDP governs the collection, storage, and processing of personal data deployed in training AI models and generation of personalised inputs,” Narendran says. Additionally, firms ought to also conduct thorough due diligence on AI vendors and their data practices before engagement, Shah adds. This includes asking as many questions as possible about data transparency and assessing if the legal tech company has a black box algorithm (socalled because the user cannot see the inner workings of the algorithm), she explains. Lastly, law firms also have to customise and train their AI in a manner to prevent it from perpetuating biases. “One major challenge is the lack of accountability and accuracy in certain AIpowered processes, such as the instances of ‘hallucinations’ where fictional sources or citations are provided in the generated content,” Narendran says. “To mitigate this risk, law firms must ensure that their AI systems are trained on diverse, representative datasets and implement detection and mitigation mechanisms for bias in AI-generated outputs,” he explains. Narendran also cautions that currently, generative AI models may also face issues in accurately interpreting and contextualising legal data in highly specialised areas of law. To fix this, Shah points out that integrating AI with human expertise is crucial. Human-in-the-loop or HITL systems, where humans and machines work together collaboratively to achieve a desired outcome, are the need of the hour, particularly in the use of GenAI in legal practice, “where human input is crucial to guide and refine the development and operation of AI models,” Shah explains. LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE The legal-tech industry is likely to continue growing despite present ethical and regulatory challenges. “While the initial investment of time and efforts in customising AI tools will be significant, ultimately, the long-term benefits are likely to outweigh such initial considerations,” Narendran says. “We foresee increased adoption of generative AI technology across four broad areas – document review, contract analysis, document management, legal and market research report, and outcome determination in legal and regulatory proceedings. Use-cases in these categories also extend to generation of legal analytics dashboards, and entirely automated due diligence processes,” he adds. Shah also says that GenAI can enable innovative pricing models based on value delivered, making legal services more accessible to a wider audience. “AI algorithms can predict litigation outcomes and durations, which might help the firms to offer fixed fees with confidence, reducing financial risks for both client and firm,” Shah says. Both Narendran and Shah believe that GenAI is going to positively disrupt law firm functions, client relationships, research and document review in a big way going forward. “While the use-cases at present are largely in an augmentative capacity to assist lawyers in offering legal advice, the near future is likely to entail a foundational shift in the manner in which law firms are structured, with artificial intelligence forming the very core of the law practice,” Narendran says. “We foresee increased adoption of generative AI technology across four broad areas – document review, contract analysis, document management, legal and market research report, and outcome determination in legal and regulatory proceedings. Use-cases in these categories also extend to generation of legal analytics dashboards, and entirely automated due diligence processes.” Nikhil Narendran, Trilegal

8 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 You’ve just gotten into a cab home after 12 long hours at your law firm, a day that’s included three calls with clients that have gone on way longer than they needed to and collaboration with two other law firms, including one in a different time zone. This is all over transaction documents that need to go out “as of yesterday,” that you quickly modify after the said calls, and then pushing clients to approve. But just as you sit back to take a breath, you hear the dreaded ding of an email alert. You’ve been avoiding your timesheets, the subject line tells you. The often-cruel nature of law firm life as an associate begs one to question the need for time tracking. When the work is getting done, and the client is “happy” and your partner is happy, why does one need to be put through this mind-numbing ordeal? Well, timesheets are for much more than putting together a bill for an hourly mandate, or just to show your clients how many hours you’ve put into their matter. Law firms are investing a significant amount of money in building technology and infrastructure to collect this valuable data, that links directly to their profitability, attorney productivity, hiring and client development. Tracking time is directly linked to resource allocation, workload management, and calculating the profitability of mandates, say Legal League Consulting’s founder, Bithka Anand, and CEO, Nipun Bhatiaa. Sabiana Anandraj, founder of professional services aggregator Cuerate and former chief operating officer at top Indian law firm Trilegal, explains that it is next to impossible to calculate profitability without tracking the hours their attorneys are spending on mandates, particularly to check for scope creep – going beyond the original scope of work and time agreed with a client. Time tracking becomes more relevant as law firms get larger. Firms depend on their attorney productivity data to determine where hiring is required, both in terms of practice areas and the level at which a legal resource needs to be brought in, Bhatiaa explains. INCENTIVISING LAWYERS It then becomes crucial to incentivise your attorneys to fill in their timesheets, without it becoming too much of a burden on their fully-packed workdays. Bhatiaa explains that some attorneys feel tracking measures can be intrusive and create a sense of being micromanaged, leading to decreased morale and job satisfaction. So, what is the right way to go TIME IS MONEY For decades, timesheets have been the bane of junior lawyers, as law firms almost uniformly use them to track productivity. But recent moves are seeking to make them less burdensome – as well as incentivise lawyers to complete them. BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: ChunnapaStudio/

9 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM about ensuring law firms collect accurate and timely timesheet data? The practice of placing the burden on partners to ensure their team’s timesheets are complete does not work anymore, and building firmwide discipline is key, notes Anandraj. “Most law firms have a major problem with ensuring that lawyers fill in time, because they don’t. So law firms put in different processes to inculcate a discipline among its attorneys when it comes to time sheets,” she says. One way is to link the timely and accurate filling of timesheets to compensation, Anandraj says. Usually, firms may link timesheet consistency to a lawyer’s performance-linked incentives, but a better way may be to link it to fixed pay. A lawyer’s rating maybe reduced if they fail to submit billing information in a timely manner,” she explains. An impact on promotion and increment inculcates the firmwide discipline needed, especially in larger firms, she adds. Incentivising the lawyer by highlighting and rewarding examples of proper timesheet submissions across the firm is also a good way to bring in the culture a firm wants, Anandraj adds. Bhatiaa and Anand of Legal League believe that increasing awareness among the ranks about the significance of timesheets is crucial to inculcate good practices. “Attorneys may sometimes exhibit resistance to productivity tracking measures, viewing them as intrusive or overly bureaucratic. Many argue that current metrics often fail to capture the full scope of an attorney’s work, overlooking crucial aspects like client relationships, strategic thinking, and pro bono work. However, it’s crucial for them to recognise that these measures are integral to the business processes of law firms,” Anand says. “However, it’s crucial for law firms to strike a balance. While implementing productivity tracking measures is essential, firms should avoid overkill. The emphasis should be on creating streamlined processes that support attorneys in their work rather than burdening them with excessive administrative tasks. Processes can’t be above people!” Anand adds. Notes Bhatiaa: “Attorneys must understand that the sheer volume of work, diverse cases, and the need for effective resource allocation make it challenging to operate without established processes. These measures are in place not to hinder their work but to enhance overall efficiency and productivity. The unique demands of legal practice have to be balanced while acknowledging the operational requirements of growing firms.” STRIKING A BALANCE Contrary to popular belief among associates, law firms do invest resources to find better ways to track their attorney’s times without burdening them. Anandraj, who has also served as commercial director at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, has consulted with a few timesheet software creators that have build AI-based models that can simply be plugged into a work computer that will automatically track and input information into timesheets based on the documents, calls, emails and research an attorney does on their system. This significantly reduces the burden on attorneys to fill in detailed timesheets, reducing their job to a mere check and approval. Anand also notes that mobile applications and cloud-based solutions enable attorneys to log their time and access productivity data on-the-go, ensuring that tracking remains accurate and effective irrespective of location. “Future tracking systems may prioritise metrics that directly tie legal work to client outcomes. Firms could focus on quantifiable measures of client satisfaction, case resolution times, and the impact of legal services on clients’ overall objectives,” Anand says. “Modern productivity tracking tools offer customisable metrics and dashboards. Attorneys can tailor the tracking parameters to align with the specific needs of their practice areas,” she adds. In the coming years, artificial intelligence will play a key role in time-tracking, as more firms rush to adopt newage technologies to increase efficiencies across the board. “Future tracking systems may prioritise metrics that directly tie legal work to client outcomes. Firms could focus on quantifiable measures of client satisfaction, case resolution times, and the impact of legal services on clients’ overall objectives,” Anand says. “Advanced AI tools can automate time tracking, analyse vast amounts of data to identify patterns and trends, and predict workloads. The shift towards continuous monitoring and real-time feedback may also be expected. Attorneys may receive instant feedback on their productivity, enabling them to make adjustments promptly,” she adds. Bhatiaa also believes that the introduction of real-time tracking, through AI and wearables, will help improve attorney well-being. “In terms of convenience, this could be as advanced as adoption of wearable technology, which could play a role in tracking attorney productivity, providing real-time data on movement, stress levels, and activity,” Bhatiaa says. “In terms of work-life balance, future tracking systems may prevent burnouts. Metrics can monitor workload stress and identify attorneys at risk of burnout, prompting firms to intervene with proactive support and workload adjustments,” he adds.

10 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 Forum LISTEN TO THE CLIENT A Thomson Reuters Market Insights research report has revealed that law firms conducting formal client feedback programs can earn nearly twice the share of a client’s external legal spend compared to those not engaging in feedback. Client feedback plays a pivotal role in helping law firms evaluate their performance, improve service quality, build strong client relationships, and differentiate themselves in a competitive Indian legal market. By actively seeking and leveraging client feedback, law firms can continuously strive for excellence and meet the evolving needs of their clients. Indian law firm leaders share strategies on how they take client feedback and how they use it to improve their relationships. BY NIMITT DIXIT QUESTION How do you perceive the impact of client feedback on your firm’s overall performance, and what measures are you currently taking to actively involve clients in feedback programs? Nishith Desai, founder, Nishith Desai Associates Listening to client feedback and working towards improvement are integral aspects of our operational ethos. At NDA, we recognise our clients’ perspectives and the invaluable knowledge that it brings along. To actively involve our clients in feedback programs, we have implemented a multifaceted approach. Firstly, we conduct third-party periodic surveys (by Hinge Consulting, a U.S. company) to gather insights on client satisfaction, ensuring a structured and comprehensive understanding of their needs on various parameters, such as – our technical abilities, industry knowledge, proactiveness, and value creation. These surveys have helped us identify what’s working and what’s not. The data guides us to implement strategic improvements in service delivery and cater to our clients’ evolving needs. Furthermore, over the years, we have established open channels for continuous communication, encouraging clients to provide real-time feedback on their ongoing assignments. Suhail Nathani, managing partner, Economic Laws Practice As a law firm – our primary focus is towards benefitting our client and consequently, client feedback is a critical measure of our work. Client feedback shapes our practice in several key areas: enhancing service quality, fostering stronger client relationships, managing our reputation effectively, and informing our strategic choices. We encourage and actively solicit feedback. This process is not only about gathering opinions but is focused on a thorough analysis and incorporation of this feedback into our service delivery for the long term. It is also important that this feedback is received frequently and in a secure yet transparent environment. We constructively utilise this information to motivate our professionals and to enable them to focus their efforts on service excellence. Ashish Razdan, partner, Khaitan & Co Seeking feedback on the services delivered by us to major clients has been a regular feature of our client relationship programme and it has proved to be invaluable as a tool to deepen our engagement with them. It serves us both in taking stock of how well we have performed in meeting or exceeding the clients’ expectations and also course correct or intervene in real time where there may be an expectation mismatch. Allowing the clients to use this method is immensely helpful in making them feel that we are invested in the relationship and, over time, helps develop a closer-knit working relationship with them. Key members of the firm’s management team looking at client engagement and key relationship partners are expected to keep an eye on the health of the client relationship by checking in regularly with the key stakeholders at the clients’ end. While this initiative started with a clear focus on the firm’s major clients, it is now increasingly being implemented with many other clients with whom we wish to invest in creating a long-term engagement. To this extent, identifying the key firm representatives or relationship partners is the first step, followed by instituting a detailed process with regular check-ins and feedback sessions on ongoing matters.

11 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM Law Firm Hires DIVI DUTTA LEAVING Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co JOINING Khaitan & Co PRACTICE Private Client LOCATION Noida POSITION Partner KZ KURIYAN LEAVING J Sagar Associates JOINING Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas PRACTICE Corporate LOCATION Bengaluru POSITION Partner SIDDHARTH MANCHANDA LEAVING Unacademy JOINING IndusLaw PRACTICE Corporate LOCATION Mumbai POSITION Partner RUCHIT PARIKH LEAVING Trilegal JOINING AZB & Partners PRACTICE Real Estate LOCATION Mumbai POSITION Partner DEVI PRASAD PATEL LEAVING Khaitan & Co JOINING Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co PRACTICE Capital Markets LOCATION Delhi POSITION Partner Appointments IN-HOUSE COUNSEL ROUNDUP Goviind Vijay Inox Wind Limited has hired Goviind Vijay to head its legal department. Vijay was most recently deputy general counsel at HT Media Group. He started his in-house career with GMR Group (Delhi International Airport Private Limited (“DIAL”) and was a part of the founding legal team and a key player at DIAL during the commissioning of Delhi Airport after privatization. He has previously worked in-house at McDonald’s India, Jubilant FoodWoorks, Bush Foods and Max Healthcare. “Since Inox has interface with a lot of private players and public sector undertakings, I see a lot of potential in terms of project documentation and alternate dispute resolution,” Vijay said. Ankit Jaiswal Jaiswal has taken over as the head of legal and compliance, Southeast Asia at CarDekho. Jaiswal specialises in strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, fintech and digital, private equity, joint ventures, capital raising, and initial public offerings. He was previously a director at ClearTax, and also spent time in-house at Paytm. Prior to this, Jaiswal has been a corporate attorney at AZB & Partners, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., and Luthra and Luthra Law Offices. “I look forward to navigating the dynamic legal landscape, driving strategic initiatives, legal compliance and corporate governance to foster the continued success of the organisation in the Southeast Asian market,” said Jaiswal. Ankita Mishra Mishra has joined UKbased consumer electronics manufacturer Nothing as its India legal head. She brings expertise in dispute resolution, contract management, data privacy and public policy in the information technology and e-commerce industry. Most recently, she led the global data privacy group at AI-led CX solution provider, IGT Solutions. She started her in-house journey at MakeMyTrip in 2013 where she spent over seven years, before joining upGradowned edtech startup Harappa as its legal head in 2021. Mishra starting her career as a practicing advocate at Parekh & Company and spent a year working in the chambers of Senior Advocate Pinky Anand.

12 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 The proposed stock and cash media and entertainment mega-merger between Disney’s India business and Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance’s media unit Viacom18 is now in its final stages, with antitrust due diligence reportedly underway. The leaders of both media giants signed a binding agreement in February, which will give Ambani’s company a controlling interest in the combined entity. The Economic Times report said that the acquisition is likely to take place with Reliance setting up a new subsidiary, which will absorb Disney’s Star India through a share swap deal. The deal also includes Reliance’s over-the-top (OTT) platform JioCinema, and Disney’s lossmaking OTT service Hotstar. Once finalised, the deal is likely to create the largest player in India’s $28 billion media and entertainment market. Competition expected from the earlier approved media merger between Zee Entertainment and Sony India also looks to be in the rearview mirror, with the deal falling out and parties engaged in dispute resolution. But its not time to sing Hakuna Matata just yet, as the deal will face tough antitrust scrutiny from India’s antitrust watchdog, The Competition Commission of (CCI), and may have to offer divestment of certain assets before final approval, legal experts say. Both Reliance and Disney have lawyered up for this stage, with the former instructing Khaitan & Co and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, and the latter seeking guidance from AZB & Partners. WHAT ARE THE CCI’S POTENTIAL CONCERNS SURROUNDING THE DEAL? While dominance by itself is not anticompetitive, its effect on competitors and its reliance on vertical markets is a major concern for the CCI. “Both parties are present across the entire value chain of the broadcasting industry, which comprises content production and aggregation, broadcasting and content distribution etc. Accordingly, the CCI would look at the combined market presence of parties and the level of competition in (i) wholesale supply of TV channels including in different genre like Hindi entertainment, Marathi, Bengali etc. (ii) OTT platform (iii) Supply of advertising airtime on TV channels and (iv) Production and supply of films to third-party distributors and exhibitors for theatrical release, etc,” says Vaibhav Choukse, head of the competition practice at J. Sagar Associates. Reliance and Disney, each have a major streaming service as well as 120 TV channels between them. As per the CCI’s records from 2022, Disney and Reliance’s Viacom held up to 50 percent of the general entertainment channel (GEC) TV market in India, including up to 50 percent of Hindi GEC, up to 55 percent of Marathi GEC, up to 50 percent of Bengali GEC and up to 35 percent of the Hindi film market. Competition concerns around the deal, like those analysed by the CCI in the Zee-Sony merger approved by the commission in 2022, centre on the effect of the creation of a dominant market player on the downstream market. “The assessment of CCI would focus on the effect of the deal on stakeholders such as viewers, advertisers, content producers, distributors, etc. as parties will become the largest broadcasting house in India with over 100 TV channels, making DISNEY-RELIANCE MEDIA MEGA-MERGER FACES ANTITRUST SCRUTINY BY NIMITT DIXIT REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo u

13 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM Deals $2.5 BLN Data Infrastructure Trust’s acquisition of American Tower Corp’s India operations Deal Type: M&A Firms: S&R Associates; Talwar Thakore & Associates Jurisdictions: India, U.S. $1.5 BLN Maruti Suzuki India Limited’s acquisition of Suzuki Motor Gujarat Deal Type: M&A Firms: Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu; Saraf and Partners; Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co Jurisdictions: India, Japan $1 BLN Highways Infrastructure Trust’s acquisition of 12 road projects Deal Type: M&A Firms: Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co; Trilegal Jurisdiction: India $615 MLN Tata Consumer Products’ acquisition of Capital Foods Deal Type: M&A Firms: Anagram Partners; Khaitan & Co Jurisdiction: India $370 MLN Mirae Asset’s acquisition of Sharekhan Deal Type: M&A Firm: Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Jurisdictions: India, South Korea $260 MLN Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency’s IPO Deal Type: IPO Firms: Dentons Link Legal; Hogan Lovells; Saraf and Partners Jurisdiction: India them an indispensable partner to downstream players, particularly Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) and advertisers,” Choukse says. WHY IS A SINGLE SPORT SUCH A BIG FACTOR IN THE DEAL? Another market where the combined entities will exercise almost monopoly power is the broadcasting of India’s favourite sport, cricket. The nation of 1.4 billion people is widely reported to account for around 80 percent of cricket’s global revenues, much of which comes from TV advertising. Disney’s Star has exclusive rights over the broadcast of the Indian national teams’ matches – as well as most of the domestic competitions – in India while Reliance’s Jio has rights to the cricket-fanatic country’s biggest cash cow, the Indian Premier League tournament. “In terms of preference, majority of Indian viewers watching cricket or major cricket event would not switch to another sports event like Wimbledon, even if two were broadcast at the same time. From the broadcaster’s perspective, the viewers and advertising revenue generated from cricket is unparallel to any other sport in India. The CCI would be interested in examining if the ‘combined entity’, due to its strong market presence in cricket streaming/ TV broadcasting, can command exorbitant advertising rate, leaving advertisers without bargaining power,” explains Choukse. “CCI would also be keen to examine the licensing terms as an excessively long duration and overboard scope may exclude competing broadcasters from access to attractive content,” he adds. WHAT ARGUMENTS FAVOUR THE DEAL? The lawyers supporting the merger can argue that TV channel distribution is heavily regulated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India at both wholesale and retail levels. The new entity will not have the ability to engage in discriminatory and differential pricing/ treatment vis-a-vis downstream partners such as DPOs due to TRAI’s regulations prohibiting any differential or discriminatory pricing/ behaviour, says Choukse. “The parties can also showcase the trend of new players entering the market, leading to decline in their market shares and significant movement of viewers switching to OTT apps,” Choukse adds. On advertising concerns, the parties may submit that advertising agencies and advertisers exert countervailing buying power and can easily switch to other competitors. Also, advertising agencies and advertisers have the ability to switch to digital and other forms of advertising, with more advertisers increasingly shifting towards digital advertising. “In case of CCI concern, the merged entity could offer commitments to not raise ad rates or decrease airtime, for a certain period,” Choukse adds. The CCI’s approval of a similar Zee-Sony merger in 2022 lays a solid precent in favour of the Disney-Reliance deal. Even that approval only came after the parties volunteered remedies to ease competition concerns, including a commitment to divest control in certain TV channels, including Zee Action, Zee Classic and Big Magic. Similar commitments may have to be made by the new RelianceDisney entity in order to obtain the CCI’s approval. But the fallout of the Zee-Sony merger also simplifies things for the deal. “But with the merger called off, Disney-Reliance faces one less major competitor, potentially weakening the argument against the merger on competition grounds,” Choukse says. That said, “the sheer size of the Disney-Reliance merger could still attract significant scrutiny from regulators, especially considering existing concerns about media concentration in India,” Choukse warns. u u

14 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 Q&A ALB: What was the rationale behind setting up the UK-India Legal Partnership, and what are its objectives and goals in the coming years? MISHRA: We identified a significant opportunity between India and the UK, where there are too many government and private organisations focusing on business and trade relations between the two countries, but there’s an absolute absence of a network or organisation with focus on lawyers between the two countries. UKILP bridged this gap. This partnership aims to strengthen ties, promote legal cooperation, recognise outstanding lawyers and law firms, and facilitate knowledge exchange between legal professionals in both countries. Moving forward, the UKILP aims to deepen cooperation and expand its network to cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh in the UK, and Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai in India. We are also in the process of developing a networking and educational portal for young lawyers. ALB: What needs to be done to improve the legal business ties between the UK and India, both from a business and a regulatory perspective? MISHRA: This slow growth can be attributed primarily to the barriers to entry for British law firms into the Indian market and the uncertainty surrounding timescale and formats for market liberalisation. This uncertainty has led many foreign law firms’ India desks to relocate to Singapore and Dubai. Similarly, we need to promote Indian law firms to set up international offices. Regulatory harmonisation efforts should be pursued to align legal frameworks and facilitate smoother cross-border operations. This includes streamlining visa processes for legal professionals, mutual recognition of qualifications, and establishing clearer guidelines for foreign law firms operating in each other’s jurisdictions. ALB: What are stakeholders’ concerns while considering the launch of an India office, and how can these be addressed? MISHRA: The recent announcement by the Bar Council of India (BCI) regarding the opening of the Indian legal market to foreign law firms, following a UK-India trade deal, has been met with enthusiasm in the UK and international legal communities. However, the lack of clear regulations and a recent petition challenging the BCI regulations at the Delhi High Court have created uncertainty for stakeholders. Establishing an office in India, or for that, in any foreign country, is a significant commitment, and such uncertainties discourage longterm commitments within the international legal market. A major concern among stakeholders is the regulatory landscape and compliance requirements in India. Clarity on regulatory frameworks, licensing procedures, taxation and compliance standards is crucial to facilitate informed decisionmaking and ensure a smooth entry into the Indian market. Addressing these concerns by providing clear guidelines and support on regulatory compliance would instil confidence among law firms considering venturing into India. Enhancing regulatory clarity can attract greater interest and investment from international legal practitioners, contributing to the growth and development of India’s legal sector. ALB: How have stakeholders in India’s legal industry responded to the liberalisation of the market in the country? MISHRA: We recently convened two roundtable discussions for the City of London Corporation in Delhi and Mumbai. The objective was to assess the prevailing sentiments in India’s legal landscape and solicit input from participants. Overall, our findings indicate a palpable eagerness within the legal community, comprising both lawyers and general counsel, for the Indian legal market to open but in phased manner. Mid-tier law firms, in particular, view this development as an opportunity to cultivate close or best-friend relationships with international law firms. This strategic approach enables them to capitalise on potential collaborations, thereby bolstering their global presence. I anticipate a potential reversal in the brain-drain phenomenon, wherein Indian lawyers working with international law firms may opt to return to India, further enriching the legal landscape. ‘THIS PARTNERSHIP AIMS TO STRENGTHEN TIES AND PROMOTE LEGAL COOPERATION’ Ajit Mishra is the founder and chair of the UK-India Legal Partnership (UKILP), which aims to bring about networking and closer ties between lawyers in the two countries. He explains his reasons behind setting up the UKILP, talks about why most UK law firms prefer to run their India desks from Singapore and Dubai instead of opening offices in India, and the industry view from within the country about the liberalisation of the legal market. BY NIMITT DIXIT AJIT MISHRA