SEP OCT 2023 In this issue, we celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of legal professionals in the country with the Top Female Lawyers and Top Disputes Lawyers rankings. These rankings not only recognise exceptional talent but also inspire the legal community to continue pushing the boundaries of excellence. Our legal industry is enriched by the contributions of these remarkable individuals, and we are proud to showcase their achievements. Then, our magazine delves into the dynamic landscape of Indian law firms expanding their horizons into the commercial hub of Dubai. We explore the reasons behind this expansion and the opportunities it presents for both the firms and their clients. The legal world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and understanding these developments is vital for staying ahead in the game. Additionally, we take an in-depth look at what general counsel across India think about the traditional hourly billing model. As the legal industry evolves, so do the billing practices, and we provide insights into the evolving preferences of the corporate legal heads. Finally, on behalf of the team here at ALB, I wish all our readers and their families a joyous and prosperous Diwali. May the festival of lights bring warmth and happiness to your homes. – RANAJIT DAM SHINING BRIGHTER TOGETHER 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 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 Manisha Singh founder and managing partner, LexOrbis Manisha Singh is the distinguished founder and managing partner of LexOrbis. She has a remarkable career spanning over 25 years and is a paragon of excellence in intellectual property law. Under her visionary leadership, LexOrbis addressed the authentic needs of clients and charted an impressive growth trajectory. Over the past year, Singh’s strategic initiatives have focused on delivering tailor-made solutions for effective intellectual property (IP) management. LexOrbis has been instrumental in providing comprehensive assistance, including patent, trademark, copyright, and design rights enforcement, as well as support for IP portfolio maintenance and commercialisation. Singh is dedicated to establishing a transparent and all-encompassing IP ecosystem. This is evident in the efforts made by LexOrbis to educate new IP owners about compliance and remedies In the spotlight ALB India releases its annual list of 40 leading dispute resolution lawyers in the country. The selection is based on their outstanding professional accomplishments, market reputation and feedback from clients. The lawyers’ names are arranged alphabetically, and some have been profiled. INDIA TOP DISPUTES LAWYERS 2023 LIST BY ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS, TEXT BY BINGQING WANG for breaches and disputes. The firm has actively collaborated with research and development (R&D) teams and research organisations to facilitate well-informed decisions on IP. This has led to a secure innovation market for budding creators. She has been working closely with Indian start-ups and enterprises driven by women entrepreneurs and inventors for the past decade or so. When she began her practice, she was trained by attorneys who managed the Indian IP portfolios of global companies. She has adopted the best practices of those big companies to manage the portfolios of Indian companies and other entities involved in the Indian innovation ecosystem. Today, she feels proud that her firm drafts over 1000 new patent applications for inventions originating from India in a wide range of new and emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, quantum computers/software, semiconductors, energy storage, and EV, among others. In a leadership role, she enjoys developing and retaining talents at the firm—building a team that can take the firm forward in the future. Tine Abraham Trilegal Shujath Ahmed Krishnamurthy & Co (K Law) Ajay Bhargava Khaitan & Co. Shweta Bharti Hammurabi & Solomon Partners Rahul Dhote ANM Global Bhavin Gada Stratage Law Partners, Advocates & Solicitors Soorjya Ganguli Argus Partners Mani Gupta Sarthak Advocates & Solicitors Poornima Hatti Samvad Partners Kiran Jain Regius Legal Sameer Jain PSL Advocates and Solicitors Amit Jajoo IndusLaw Mamta Jha Inttl Advocare Sukrit Kapoor King Stubb & Kasiva, Advocates and Attorneys Arush Khanna Numen Law Offices Sanjay Kishore Tatva Legal Hyderabad Sanjeev Kumar Luthra & Luthra Law Offices India Charanya Lakshmikumaran Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan Shwetasree Majumder Fidus Law Chambers Debanjan Mandal Fox & Mandal

3 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM LexOrbis has embraced cuttingedge technology, employing a state-ofthe-art docket management system and integrated document management, task management, and auto-invoicing systems to enhance client experiences. The firm’s expansion includes a new branch in Chennai, with plans for further growth in prominent Indian metropolitan cities. Singh’s global vision extends to strengthening the firm’s network internationally, ensuring LexOrbis’ expertise reaches clients across diverse jurisdictions. Beyond her legal achievements, Singh’s passion for social service shines through her association with Haath ka Bana, a social enterprise championing traditional arts and crafts. She actively empowers local artisans and indigenous creators, educating them about their rights, particularly concerning geographical indications in India. Singh’s commitment to fostering innovation extends to her involvement in webinars and training sessions, where she guides entrepreneurs and start-ups, enriching India’s intellectual property landscape. Shri Venkatesh managing partner, SKV Law Offices Shri Venkatesh is a prominent figure in India’s legal landscape, with over 15 years of dedicated expertise in infrastructure regulatory practice. He is the managing partner of SKV Law Offices in New Delhi, and has played a pivotal role in steering the firm towards remarkable growth since it was established in 2013. Venkatesh’s specialises in electricity and regulatory disputes within the field of infrastructure. His practice areas include a broad spectrum, such as arbitration, insolvency and bankruptcy, consumer protection, environment, insurance, and advisory services. He has successfully represented well-known entities like Tata Power Company, NTPC, Reliance Power, Vedanta, L&T, earning him recognition as a trusted advisor in commercial and regulatory disputes. With his strategic acumen, Venkatesh has led key cases that have shaped the legal landscape. This is evident when he adeptly represented Vidarbha Industries Power in a landmark insolvency proceeding, showcasing his proficiency in navigating complex legal frameworks. He has recently secured a favourable judgment for Tata Power Company - Transmission in a significant case against Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission. The outcome reaffirmed his expertise in handling high-stakes litigation. Venkatesh is proficient in dispute resolution and provides comprehensive legal counsel to corporations, governments, banks, and market participants involved in energy transactions. Venkatesh is deeply committed to societal welfare in his pursuit of justice. He actively promotes pro bono ethics within the legal profession and provides pro bono services to those in need. His efforts enrich both the legal profession and the lives of those who benefit from his services. METHODOLOGY Evaluation Criteria: • Significant cases that were handled throughout the entire career; • Significant cases that were handled in the last 12 months; • Key clients; • New clients; • Significant accolades, thirdparty awards or recognitions received; • Comments received from clients; • Comments received from managing partners or colleagues; • Cases participated in and for which judgments were pronounced within the last 12 months. The evaluation is based on the following factors: • Complexity of cases; • Litigation strategies; • Influence of cases; • Innovative nature of cases. Shashank Manish Emerald Law Offices Ateev Mathur SNG & Partners Abhijit Mittal Legal Scriptures Advocates & Solicitors Vaishali Mittal Anand & Anand Sajid Mohamed Agrud Partners Dheeraj Nair JSA Rahul Narayan Chandhiok & Mahajan, Advocates and Mahajan (C&M) Nishant Nigam Goswami & Nigam LLP Dinesh Pardasani DSK Legal Shiraz Patodia Dua Associates Dinesh Pednekar Economic Laws Practice (ELP) Gunita Pahwa S&A Law Offices Ranjit Prakash Archeus Law P Raviprasad Tempus Law Associates Nakul Sharedalal NS Legal Manisha Singh LexOrbis Sonal Kumar Singh AKS Partners Manmeet Singh Saraf and Partners Nilesh Tribhuvann White & Brief Advocates Shri Venkatesh SKV Law Offices

4 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 Indian law firms have traditionally taken a conservative stance on international expansion. But as the country’s financial clout spreads overseas, law firms are setting their sights on key international business hubs to support this wave of expansion. Dubai is the latest to see incoming law firm traffic from India, with at least five firms setting up shop in the United Arab Emirates’ capital in 2023. In August, Delhi-based disputes boutique AKS Partners became the latest Indian law firm to open an office in Dubai. Goswami & Nigam, Singularity Legal, Vidhisastras Advocates & Solicitors and Parin Legal have also opened offices in Dubai this year. Law firm leaders say the UAE’s growing bilateral trade relations with India, pro-technology regulatory approach, and the capital city’s drive to become an international dispute resolution hub bring more Indian law firms to its shores. “The work we expect in Dubai will encompass a wide range of legal matters, such as handling international arbitration cases, providing expert advice on corporate and commercial issues, and offering guidance on technology and cryptocurrency law,” says AKS’ managing partner Sonal Kumar Singh. “We foresee significant business expansion in Dubai in the coming years, driven by the thriving trade between India and the UAE. Rising trade volumes will lead to increased demand for legal counsel in disputes and support for crossborder transactions, investments, and collaborations,” Singh adds. GROWING ECONOMIC TIES Bilateral trade between India and the UAE was $84.5 billion from April 2022 to March 2023. A Free Trade Agreement between the two countries that came into effect on May 1 seeks to increase trade to $100 billion. India is also the UAE’s top trading partner for non-oil exports, accounting for nearly 14 percent of the UAE’s total non-oil exports worldwide. According to data from India’s Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, India’s April to October exports to the UAE rose 17.6 percent to around $18 billion for FY22. Imports from the UAE during the same period increased by 33 percent to $32.3 billion. “The intensification of trade and investment activity between India and the UAE will further boost the demand for legal services in Dubai. This surge will encompass inquiries and requests for legal advice, contract negotiations, dispute resolution, and compliance matters. Our aim is to position ourselves as a trusted legal partner to meet these growing demands efficiently,” Singh says. The UAE’s regulation of cryptocurrency and general tech-forward policies also attract a lot of tech-focused Indian businesses to its shores, bringing more work to law firms. “We see technology as the driver of the next phase of growth, which will also spur growth in ancillary industries like real estate, financial services and hospitality,” say Himanshu Goswami and Nishant Nigam, managing partners of Goswami & Nigam. “These factors align well with the focus practice areas of our firm since we do a significant amount of work in cross border transactions, financial markets and new age tech like Ai, ML, NLP, Web 3.0 and the like,” Goswami and Nigam add. AKS’ Singh agrees, adding that the firm “anticipates heightened demand for legal services in cutting-edge areas like technology and finance. Dubai has been a leader in technological and financial innovation, including blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and fintech. We are enthusiastic about the opportunities that the Dubai market offers.” Another chief reason to invest in Dubai is the city’s growing reputation as a global arbitration hub, says Singh. Indeed, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre’s annual report for 2022 found that 340 cases were registered in 2022, compared to 276 cases in 2021, and 231 in 2020, which represents upwards of 20 percent growth per year. The report also highlights the nature of the cases registered, with 44 percent of the cases involving international disputes – not involving a party from the UAE – involving parties from 48 countries. The UAE has also continuously sought to improve its arbitration procedure and enforcement mechanism to make it more attractive to businesses. In September, the country amended its laws to improve arbitrator impartiality, emphasize clear recognition of virtual arbitration proceedings and create a larger umbrella of confidentiality over arbitration hearings and proceedings. NAMASTE DUBAI Firms are increasingly looking at Dubai as an attractive legal market, owing to its dispute resolution infrastructure, tech-forward policies, and growing trade ties with India. BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: Rasto SK/

5 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM But setting up shop in Dubai doe not come without its regulatory challenges, with various registration requirements, business structures and locations, categories of practitioners and foreign ownership restrictions. REGULATORY CHALLENGES The first challenge to setting up an office in the UAE was navigating foreign ownership requirements. “While Dubai has made progress in liberalizing foreign ownership, certain sectors maintain limitations. To ensure compliance while retaining control, we engaged local partners or sponsors as needed, aligning our approach with sector-specific regulations,” Singh says. Goswami and Nigam point out that there are also distinct categories of legal practitioners in the country, and only a lawyer who is a UAE national can appear in courts. “An advocate/counsel is authorized to represent clients before the local courts in the UAE. This right is granted to Emirati lawyers. Non-Emirati legal practitioners can get registration as legal consultants, which authorizes them to render legal advice to clients in the UAE, but not appear before the courts.” An Indian firm needs to hire Emirati lawyers or engage with local law firms in order to represent their clients before courts in the UAE. AKS and Goswami and Nigam both say they have met these criteria. LOOKING BEYOND DUBAI The rush of Indian law firms to Dubai highlights the growing belief that India Inc. is now looking at Dubai as a strong avenue for growth. “We see the Dubai market in particular, and the UAE as a whole, to really be a key driver of the next phase of the India growth story. The UAE has constantly reinvented itself to keep pace with the changing business and technology dynamics in the world, and now, we are witnessing a synergy between the technology edge that Indian companies and entrepreneurs bring to the world, and the regulatory and business environment of the UAE, which together can be the tech centre of the world in the coming years,” Goswami and Nigam say. AKS’ Singh says that Dubai is only an entry point into a larger Middle Eastern market, and the firm is looking to launch offices across the oil-rich subcontinent as it looks to diversify. “We anticipate a growing demand for legal services in Dubai and surrounding regions such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, driven by the region’s economic diversification and the increasing complexity of business transactions. These factors offer numerous opportunities for us to effectively assist clients and open exciting prospects for us in emerging fields.” “Having inaugurated our new branch in Dubai, the firm is also actively considering opportunities to expand into neighbouring regions like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Abu Dhabi, and others,” Singh adds. BROUGHT TO YOU BY EMERALD LAW OFFICES Could you please share the inspiration and driving factors that led to the establishment of Emerald Law Offices, and what sets it apart in terms of vision and mission within the legal landscape? The inception of Emerald Law Offices stemmed from the desire to merge my passion for law and entrepreneurship. I have had the privilege of advising visionaries and entrepreneurs throughout my career who have had a deep passion for their ideas and a desire to make a difference. Drawing inspiration from their dedication, I reached a point where I yearned to experience the joy and fulfillment of creating something that authentically reflected my own values and aspirations. Also, a key driving force behind the establishment of Emerald Law Offices was the exceptional team I had the privilege of assembling. This team has not only fortified but also greatly influenced my decision-making process. I’ve meticulously curated a group of remarkable individuals who consistently deliver exceptional results for our clients. The vision of Emerald Law Offices is simple yet powerful: to deliver the finest quality solutions to our clients. In pursuit of this vision, our Firm adopts a well-structured approach to empathize with and comprehend the constantly evolving and competitive demands of the business world, coupled with the ever-changing legal, regulatory, and tax landscape. Our proficiency in deciphering these business requirements serves as the foundation for the Firm, enabling us to provide cutting-edge solutions that act as a potent catalyst, playing a pivotal role in helping businesses achieve their objectives. How did the rapid expansion to Bengaluru align with the firm’s growth strategy, and what key considerations or opportunities influenced the decision to open a second office in such a short timeframe? Bengaluru, India’s Silicon Valley, is a technology and innovation hub. We offer cutting-edge legal services to modern industries, making Bengaluru our natural choice. While Delhi was our initial preference due to our extensive litigation and corporate practice, we chose Bengaluru for its dynamism. We see substantial opportunities to collaborate with innovative companies and startups, solidifying our presence across the country. Looking ahead, what long-term strategic initiatives and goals does Emerald Law Offices have to leverage its experience and expertise to meet the evolving needs of clients and the legal industry in the future? We are on a journey to become one of the leading firms that can meet the dynamic needs of our clients and the ever-evolving legal landscape. We plan to achieve this by strategically selecting niche practice areas, ensuring that we consistently stay at the forefront of all new developments and changes in those specific fields. Our approach will be centered on delivering exceptional quality and expertise, both through nuanced, detailed work and handling substantial volumes of projects. Through these efforts, we aim to become the default choice for clients seeking services in these areas. Indeed, we are actively accelerating our growth journey. We’ve also recently expanded into data protection and intellectual property practices. Furthermore, we’ve made significant enhancements to our general corporate and M&A team, by onboarding Madhavan Srivatsan and his entire team. A conversation with Sachit Mathur Sachit Mathur Managing Partner E: Emerald Law Offices W:

6 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 Vinati Kastia senior partner, AZB & Partners With an illustrious career spanning 27 years in the legal field, Vinati Kastia is a well-respected senior partner at AZB & Partners in New Delhi. Her expertise lies in M&A, anti-money laundering law and legal and regulatory matters on financial reporting. She has made her mark in complex legal landscapes with her exceptional skill and knowledge. Kastia has extensive experience in dealing with various high-profile cases. During her early years, she played a crucial role in SABMiller’s significant business ventures in India, handling all aspects from entry to exit, including major acquisitions and corporate restructuring. Her pivotal role in SABMiller’s strategic moves earned her the reputation of being a reliable legal advisor. In a recent landmark transaction, Kastia played a leading role in overseeing the sale of ‘Horlicks’ to Hindustan Unilever, valued at approximately $452 million. As part of the AZB team, she has demonstrated her exceptional negotiation skills and strategic acumen in tackling various challenges with a solution-oriented mindset that ensured the successful completion of the deal. Kastia has represented SoftBank in investments in key Indian companies such as Flipkart, Paytm, FirstCry, and Delhivery. This gave her invaluable insights into contemporary business models, e-commerce, and company valuations. Kastia serves as a trusted adviser for KPMG and the BSR firms in India, possessing specialised expertise in financial reporting, auditing, and related corporate governance matters. She is also responsible for handling complex advisory and regulatory matters for Amway in India. Manisha Singh founder and managing partner, LexOrbis With over 25 years of legal expertise, Manisha Singh stands at the forefront of intellectual property law as the founder and managing partner of LexOrbis. She is renowned for her profound knowledge of IP rights prosecution and enforcement, and has strategically managed global patents, trademarks, and design portfolios for numerous multinational corporations and domestic entities. Her expertise in IP litigation spans various technical fields, including pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and mechanics, positioning her as a leading counsel in over 138 countries. Singh is not just a skilled lawyer, but also a champion for equal opportunity. She has led LexOrbis to have a predominantly female workforce, with 75 percent of the professionals and staff being women. This reflects her commitment to empowering diverse groups in the workforce. Being a first-generation lawyer, she actively encourages and supports women who aspire to have a career in law. She has created a work environment fostering professional excellence and work-life balance. Apart from her legal work, Singh is also a staunch supporter of preserving India’s rich cultural heritage. She works alongside social enterprises such as Haath ka Bana, which is dedicated to promoting traditional folk art and crafts and protecting crafts designated as geographical indications. In its second annual ranking, ALB highlights outstanding women lawyers in India who have made significant contributions amidst the dynamic legal landscape. The list features 30 exceptional female lawyers who have consistently demonstrated excellence in their work, setting remarkable standards within their specific legal domains. These lawyers have earned accolades not only from their peers and superiors but also from their clients. The names are arranged alphabetically, and some of the lawyers have been profiled. LIST BY ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS, TEXT BY BINGQING WANG INDIA TOP FEMALE LAWYERS 2023 Image: Alexey_M/

7 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM Singh is a highly respected member of esteemed organisations such as INTA, APAA, AIPLA, AIPPI, LES, and FICPI. She is not only a legal luminary, but an inspirational leader who advocates for inclusivity and diversity in the legal profession. Her exceptional skills and dedication continue to shape the landscape of intellectual property law, leaving an indelible mark on the legal industry. METHODOLOGY Evaluation Criteria: • Significant achievements, such as deals and cases, throughout the candidate’s career; • Significant work handled by the candidate in the last 18 months; • Key clients; • New clients; • Significant accolades, thirdparty awards or recognitions received; • Certifications obtained and participation in bar and/or professional activities; • Client recommendations and comments; • Comments from managing partners or colleagues . The evaluation is based on the following factors: • Complexity: the degree to which the work requires legal expertise, business acumen, or innovative solutions. • Breadth: the extent to which the work involved multiple jurisdictions, legal practice areas, parties, and industries. • Significance: the degree to which industry players or the regionregions may be affected by the cases/deals. • Innovativeness: the degree to which the work involved applying new and creative solutions to existing systems and processes. These solutions may have been used to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic or to transform the organisational capabilities. Innovativeness can also include using technology or analytics to uncover opportunities and risks in each deal. Ranjana Adhikari - IndusLaw Kanupriya Bhargava - IRIS Legal Daizy Chawla - S & A Law Offices Prachi Dave - Dhaval Vussonji and Associates Ashlesha Gowariker - Desai & Diwanji Poornima Hatti - Samvad Partners Mamta Jha - Inttl Advocare Pritha Jha - Pioneer Legal Avaantika Kakkar - Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Shruti Kanodia - Sagus Legal Vinati Kastia - AZB & Partners Surbhi Kejriwal - Khaitan & Co Charanya Lakshmikumaran - Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan Sanika Mehra - Saga Legal Sheena Ogra - Ahlawat & Associates Anisha Patnaik - LexStart Partners Brijita Prakash - DSK Legal Roma Priya - Burgeon Law Anushree Rauta - ANM Global Madhurima Mukherjee (Saha) - JSA Rachika Agrawal Sahay - Argus Partners Shafaq Uraizee Sapre - Chandhiok & Mahajan, Advocates and Mahajan Gitanjali Saraf - Saraf and Partners Manisha Singh - LexOrbis Shreya Sircar - Luthra & Luthra Law Offices Puja Sondhi - Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. Vaibhavi Sharma - Prosoll Law Astha Singh Trehan - Emerald Law Offices Nisha Kaur Uberoi - Trilegal Sabia Veqar - Mason & Associates

8 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 The ageless popularity of the hourly billing model commonly employed by Indian law firms is centred on the principle that a lawyer’s most limited and, hence, valuable resource is time. In the business of law, it makes sense for lawyers to earn profit based on time spent working on a matter. But with growing competition among law firms, emergence of a class of boutiques and technological disruptions, general counsel are taking a more pragmatic approach to negotiating hourly billing mandates thrown down by law firms. This does not mean that GCs are not appreciative of the need and value of hourly billing for law firms, particularly on matters with open-ended work and time commitments. But if GCs are willing to throw in the big bucks, they expect mandates to be goal-oriented, address inefficiency and accountability, and be open to rationalisation. Reports suggest that partners at top-tier law firms in India charge hourly rates anywhere between $300 - $500, which slips down to $100 - $250 at lower-tier law firms. These rates are often discounted based on whether the client will pay in dollars or rupees, with international clients often being charged the highest. Where scope of work and time can be defined, general counsel prefer not to agree to an hourly mandate. Dispute resolution is one example where companies tend to ask for fixed cost – or at least hybrid cost – payment models, says Hiten Sampat, general counsel at civil construction giant Patel Engineering. Costs can be fixed for drafting documents and court/arbitration appearances, but firms prefer to bill hourly for undefined work that can take substantial amounts of time, like research in high stakes, complicated disputes, Sampat says. On transactional work, law firms push for hourly billing, particularly in high-value deals. This is particularly true when it is difficult to assess the length of negotiations, says Smriti Subramanian, general counsel at e-commerce company Snapdeal. “Law firms insist on hourly billing where it’s difficult to assess the time or effort,” she says. While Subramanian appreciates the need for law firms to bill hourly in such cases, she says rationalisation is key in keeping costs feasible and law firms accountable. RATIONALISING IS KEY When negotiating mandates with law firms, Subramanian looks at various measures such as rationalising the size of the team on the transaction, rationalising hours spent by multiple team members on calls and meetings, rationalising time sheets submitted, as well as ensuring the firm provides a reasonable pre-estimate and revises hourly rates in case of overruns and delays. Another GC at a prominent Indian tech company says on condition of anonymity that in M&A deals, she prefers to have billing caps based on scope of work and time spent, to ensure efficiency and goal-driven work from law firms. “Where dynamic negotiations are required, we also fix half and full-day rates for the partner (with no overtime rates). We also get a blended rate for the negotiations phase, and normally only the partner’s time will be counted even if more than one person attends along with the partner,” she says. Blended rates and single-person billing are popular approaches among GCs, especially at larger organisations that undertake long-term mandates with large scopes of work. Blended rates are a single rate charged across the board by law firms for all levels of partners and associates. This prevents partners from charging exorbitant rates for hours spent on the matter. General counsel also negotiate to be charged for a single attorney’s time, even when multiple members of a team are attending a meeting or working on a matter. Partners and senior attorneys often will over-allocate associates on RETHINKING THE BILLABLE HOUR General counsel in India do appreciate a law firm’s need to use the hourly billing model, but with some flexibility and rationalisation, it could be much more attractive. BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: Sergii Gnatiuk/

9 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM smaller items to give them experience or distribute workload. Billing only for a single person, irrespective of the number of associates on the piece of work, incentivises efficient allocation of resources on a matter and is cost-effective for the client. The tech GC also adds that a detailed explanation of the scope of work from the client side, and a fair pre-estimate from the law firms on that basis, goes a long way in avoiding unnecessary cost additions in hourly billing mandates. “We like to present a comprehensive brief with our queries and then ask for a quotation before proceeding. We ask them to factor in 60 minutes of discussion into the billing after presenting the written opinion and limited follow-on questions. This makes it predictable for the law firm, too.” Subramanian agrees that the expectation management is the prerogative of the in-house counsel, and directly affects the quality and cost of work delivered by law firms. “Quality of deliverable from external lawyers can be correlated to the ability of the in-house counsel to present the facts and relevant circumstances and present a point of view. It is the work of in-house counsel to bring pragmatism,” Subramanian says. EXPECTATION MISMATCH This is particularly true when it comes to India’s growing start-ups, which are looking to expand, and seek pragmatic, goal-oriented legal counsel with quick turnaround times. One start-up founder says he prefers working with small firms rather than toptier ones because of the flexibility in rates and attention to detail. He describes his experience with large law firms as one of a teacher chasing a student to finish their homework, which they don’t consider worth doing. He says large law firms tend to focus on larger companies with larger mandates. Even if start-ups agree to pay hourly rates, they don’t get timely responses to their queries, as law firms would like to show they took time on a query in order to increase hourly billing. Smaller or boutique firms that agree to rationalisation and discounted rates, often allocate efficient resources to a start-up’s matter and are more responsive to their needs, he says. Start-ups are looking for legal partners, not advisors, he adds. Subramanian agrees, adding that hourly billing may not work for either a start-up or the law firm. “Legal teams at start-ups work within spheres of many uncertainties. The culture of start-ups appreciates risk-taking skin-in-the-game approach from their investors, partners and advisors. Hourly billing by law firms without any skin in the game may, therefore, seem to fly in the face of a desired approach.” “It would not be reasonable to expect law firms to risk their resources to outcomes that they do not own or control,” she adds. BROUGHT TO YOU BY ARGUS PARTNERS What recent trends and notable developments have emerged that clients should closely monitor when engaging in transactions in India, and how might these trends impact the structuring and execution of deals? In the last few years, the Indian private credit market has emerged as a pivotal force in bridging the existing capital gap. SEBI has recently introduced significant amendments to the regulatory regime governing issuance of listed non-convertible debentures (NCDs), which would impact the structuring of private credit deals. Last month, the SEBI LODR Regulations were amended to provide that a company whose NCDs are listed has to necessarily list all subsequent issuances of NCDs. Listed NCDs were the preferred instrument for investors for transactions where they would like the benefit of SARFAESI. With the recent amendments, the flexibility to structure debt deals depending on the nature of the funding/ asset would be impacted. Another key area of interest for investors would be the developments in the IBC landscape. In January this year, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had published a discussion paper on the amendments being proposed to the IBC. This included the proposal to have a specialised framework to deal with stressed real estate projects, where project-wise resolution would be expressly permitted. As is mostly the case, the devil would lie in the details, since it would need to be seen how the issues pertaining to applicability of moratorium at the entity level as opposed to project level and claims of entity level creditors will be dealt with in the proposed amendments. How have recent government policies and regulatory changes impacted the lending market in India? One of the areas which has been receiving significant attention from the government and regulators is the fintech space. Last year, the RBI had issued the digital lending guidelines which sought to curb the first loss default guarantee (FLDG) model of partnership between financial institutions and fintechs. This was a major setback for the digital lending business. However, the RBI has now allowed the FLDG model though with tightened norms in respect of capping of the guarantee amount etc. This has definitely opened up the market for fintechs and should help with financial inclusion. A conversation with Aastha Aastha Partner E: Argus Partners W:

10 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 Forum A CULTURE OF CARE Recent studies have shown that legal professionals continue to struggle with mental health and well-being challenges and often do not seek help, typically because of the stigma surrounding mental health in the legal profession. The COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have shed light on this state of mental health in the legal industry, often exacerbated by stress, high-pressure work environments, unrealistic workloads, isolation, and a lack of connection, among other reasons. BY NIMITT DIXIT What steps has your law firm taken to create a stress-free work environment and identify and combat mental health issues among its lawyers? Shwetasree Majumder, managing partner, Fidus Law Chambers We are proud of our continued committed focus on mental health along with the “no-retrenchment” assurance that we gave all members of the team irrespective of the market situation during the pandemic. We built a gym at the time on our premises, which remains a highlight of the office. We provide full medical coverage to all our staff members. We have also empanelled a therapist and comp up to four sessions with her for any colleague who feels the need to reach out to her. Further, our senior leadership is being constantly trained to handle mental health concerns with empathy. We include mental health as a ground to apply for leave and have, in several instances, also provided extended periods of leave or work from home to help our colleagues feel better. During the pandemic, we started a buddy system to serve as a check on each colleague to ensure that they were doing well. Sachit Mathur, managing partner, Emerald Law Offices Our approach begins with nurturing a culture of empathy and respect not only with clients but within the firm as a team. The firm acknowledges that everyone has different backgrounds and upbringings and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to stress management. However, we try to embrace a holistic approach that encompasses a range of elements, such as recreational activities, sports participation, and team bonding events. The firm also encourages its younger lawyers to discuss the challenges they face openly and provides them with support and guidance. ELO’s motto is “If you enjoy what you do and the people you collaborate with, then it will never feel like work.” The firm strives to ensure this environment by fostering strong interpersonal relationships and providing its professionals with a safe and supportive space to thrive. Tania Ahlawat, co-managing partner, Ahlawat & Associates At our firm, we prioritise the well-being of our team members by implementing a multi-faceted approach to create a stress-free work environment and address mental health issues. We encourage a healthy work-life balance and open lines of communication between team members and management to identify and address issues promptly. We ensure realistic expectations and workloads, and regularly monitor the distribution of tasks. Regular team-building activities and social events encourage camaraderie among employees, reducing workplace stress. We maintain a zerotolerance policy for discrimination and harassment, ensuring an inclusive and respectful atmosphere. Sanika Mehra, co-managing partner, Saga Legal We prioritise the wellbeing of our team members by implementing several key initiatives to create a stress-free work environment and address mental health concerns. Firstly, we have adopted a flexible work schedule, providing team members with a fiveday workweek. This approach allows our team members to strike a better work-life balance, reducing stress levels and promoting overall mental health. Additionally, we have embraced the concept of remote work. By offering the option to work from home, we empower our team to work in a setting that suits their needs, reducing the stress associated with long commutes and providing a more comfortable environment. Image: The Studio/

International Contract Drafting ALB VIRTUAL TRAINER & TESTIMONIALS WHO SHOULD ATTEND REGISTRATION INFORMATION Virtual Workshop: Delivered via 2-Part Webinar 16 - 17 November 2023 3:00pm to 6:00pm (Singapore/Hong Kong/China Time) GMT +8 12:30pm to 3:30pm (India Time) GMT+5.5 11:00am to 2:00pm (UAE Time) GMT+4 OVERVIEW ALB presents an interactive and intense 2-part webinar that helps you manage risks inherent in cross-border contracts. Learn how to draft cross-border contracts with ease and confidence by: • Understanding and being introduced to the unique 10 Key Steps Tool for drafting and analysing all and any international contract • Working through sample clauses and interactive exercises to gain a comprehensive understanding of the pitfalls and risks • Lawyers • In-house counsel • Paralegals and managers in law firms and corporations • Contract managers • Anyone who drafts, negotiates, or reviews cross-border contracts PRICING Early Bird Rate (Ends 16 October) USD 810 (Before GST) USD 874.80 (After GST) Standard Rate USD 920 (Before GST) USD 993.60 (After GST) CONTACT Warren Tan (65) 6793 6264 / REGISTER WEBSITE ICDApr23 GROUP PRICE SAVE AN ADDITIONAL 20%. Register five participants from your organisation and the 5th person attends for free! “He has excellent communication skills and extensive international experience to share as well as real world situations” “One of the rare ones who take participants through typical clauses in an agreement, explaining the purport and variable scenarios. Many other seminars gloss over this essential part and do not provide practical examples” “Arun conducted the course well blending theory and practical needs” “I found Arun to be open and engaging, which helped the participants feel comfortable to ask questions and participate in sharing. I felt that this made the session more enriching and facilitated the discussion” “Always pleased to take questions and gives relevant examples with his answers and useful workable advice on drafting” Arun Singh (Prof) OBE, FRSA is an international lawyer and consultant to an international law firm. He was formerly a partner and head of commercial law at KPMG Legal and partner at Masons (now Pinsent Masons). Arun has advised on disputes and collaborations in a wide range of jurisdictions including Europe, countries in West and East Africa, India, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Pakistan, Libya, Jordan, Syria, the US, Caribbean, Russia, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Thailand and Singapore. Arun is cited and ranked in the Chambers Guide to the world’s leading lawyers. He concentrates on international investment, joint ventures, licensing of technology, research and development, M&A, energy, outsourcing and corporate governance in developed and emerging markets; he also handles international legal risk management matters. Arun advises a range of international organisations and is a visiting professor in International Business, Leadership and Negotiations at Salford University Business School, senior associate at Oxford University’s Institute of Legal Practice and teaches international leadership and negotiations at the University of Cambridge. He has facilitated programmes in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US. He is a recognised corporate educator and a non-executive director of two international investment companies – one of which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, chairing the Audit Committee and Investment Committee. He was appointed an OBE by HM the Queen in January 1999 for services to international trade, investment and intercultural management. Arun is an editor and contributor to a number of publications including Business and Contract Law (a Thorogood Special Report) and How to Lead Smart People – Leadership for Professionals (Profile Books), a facilitator for company programmes and an experienced speaker at international corporate conferences. • Contract and protocol of the group • The Key Differences between Common and Civil Law • Overview of forming a binding contract – what to watch out for • Pre-Contract Documents Across Borders • Confidentiality Agreements Across Borders and Enforceability • Constructive Performance Obligations and which to select to protect and enhance your interests • Clauses for Managing the Contract - and key phrases such as Best Endeavours and Reasonable Endeavours • Variation and Termination, Limiting Legal Risk Clauses • Choice of Law and Dispute Resolution Clauses – Pointers • The 10 Key Steps Tool for Drafting and Analysing an International Contract • Sample clauses and interactive exercises TOPICS COVERED

12 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 A new tax on online real money gaming (RMG) companies under India’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime has left the once-sunrise industry in a state of panic, with market players announcing layoffs and closures, revenue projections dropping significantly, and the whole sector preparing for legal battles against exorbitant tax demands worth over 1.5 trillion rupees ($18 billion). India’s GST Council in July passed a resolution imposing 28 percent GST on the full face value of bets placed on RMG platforms. This new law has been enforced as of Oct. 1, and tax authorities have sent a dozen pre-show cause notices to online RMG companies such as DreamSports (which runs Dream 11), Games 24x7 (which runs RummyCircle and My11Circle) and Head Digital Works, with demands totally worth over 550 billion rupees. The biggest concern for the over 900 RMG companies in the country is the application of the tax on the full value of bets as opposed to the gross gaming revenue, which was the case previously, says an industry insider at one of India’s top real money online gaming companies, who requested anonymity. In order to stay viable, the GST will be passed on straight to the users, making it difficult for companies to retain players on their platforms. Already within thin margins, companies will have to offer stronger incentives, including waiver of platform fees, higher prize pools, and more to ensure commercial viability. Another alarming aspect of these notices is that they claim tax amounts from 2017 onwards. This is due to the Finance Ministry’s stand that the law is not prospective but clarificatory in nature – which effectively means it will apply retrospectively. The industry insider says that this retrospective application of the tax will destroy the industry, particularly the smaller market players. The tax revenues sought on the full-face value of bets placed was never collected by companies from the period, and winnings were all distributed, as per the laws and policies at the time. INDUSTRY IMPACT Following the implementation of the new tax rate, companies and investors are scampering to find ways to stay afloat or exit the market. One of India’s largest RMG players, DreamSports, expects an 80 percent drop in EBITDA following the tax hike. Global gaming giant Super Group announced earlier this month that it has ceased services in the India market due to changes to the GST tax. “The newly effective tax rules make the Indian market no longer commercially viable for Super Group,” it said in a statement. Indian gaming firms had raised $2.8 billion from investors across the globe in the past five years, including from Tiger Global and Peak XV. Gaming companies, in an open letter to the Finance Ministry, said the tax would deter potential investors, both domestic and foreign, from considering the online gaming sector in India as a viable investment destination. The industry source also believes the decision to levy 28 percent GST will encourage illegal offshore gambling operators, drive Indian users to them and ultimately lead to neither optimal tax collection nor the growth of the legitimate industry. Despite several appeals from the industry to reconsider its decision, the government has remained firm, saying the new tax streamlines the collection process. Companies then had no choice but to move courts seeking remedial actions. LEGAL CHALLENGES AHEAD Companies such as GamesKraft and DreamSports have already filed writ petitions challenging the applicability of the GST regime. Petitions filed aim to challenge the pre-show cause notices issued to the companies for evading GST since 2017 and failing to pay the 28 percent on the nominal value of bets. Apart from challenging the hike, legal experts also say that companies are strongly urging courts to order the tax to be paid prospectively, which will save RMG companies from immediate financial hardship. There is a mandatory minimum 10 percent deposit of disputed amount in order to challenge a demand order under the GST regime. Companies need to be careful in how they draft their complaints as writ petitions to avoid making these deposits, a Mumbai-based lawyer working with RMG companies said. In the long term, companies must work with the GST council to find a neutral, viable solution, the insider said. The solution lies in understanding the aggressive approach of the GST council and negotiating a better, mutually beneficial deal, which will play out as court decisions come through, he added. NO MORE FUN AND GAMES: HOW A NEW TAX ON ONLINE REAL MONEY GAMING COMPANIES IS POISED TO CRIPPLE THE INDUSTRY BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: Upl/

13 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – INDIA E-MAGAZINE WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM Law Firm Hires SHRUTI KHANIJOW LEAVING MRP Advisors JOINING Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co PRACTICE Dispute Resolution LOCATION Chennai POSITION Partner MALINI RAJU LEAVING J Sagar Associates JOINING AZB & Partners PRACTICE Real Estate LOCATION Bengaluru POSITION Partner SWATI SHARMA LEAVING Anand & Anand JOINING Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas PRACTICE Intellectual Property LOCATION Delhi POSITION Practice Head RAMYA SURESH LEAVING AZB & Partners JOINING Saraf & Partners PRACTICE M&A LOCATION Mumbai POSITION Partner ARAVIND VENUGOPAL LEAVING Acko JOINING Khaitan & Co PRACTICE M&A LOCATION Bengaluru POSITION Partner BROUGHT TO YOU BY S&A LAW OFFICES What are some recent trends and developments impacting the procedural and substantive aspects of arbitration for clients? The recent decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and various High Courts in India, have clarified many positions impacting procedural and substantive aspects of arbitration. For instance, a third-party funder, a non-signatory to the arbitration agreement, who is not a party to the arbitral proceedings or the award, cannot be held liable for the awarded amount. The decision on the issue of Doctrine of Group Companies, i.e., the non-signatory party(s) whether can be compelled to participate in arbitration proceedings is pending adjudication, and once passed, the same would impact substantive aspects of arbitration for clients. Whether an arbitration agreement contained in an unstamped agreement, as ruled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, is enforceable is an another important development impacting clients. A contract /clause stipulating a lesser period for invoking arbitration ( than as provided under the Limitation Act) would be invalid, which is yet another important decision for the clients. Recently the Delhi High Court, held that a significant and unexplained delay in delivering the award after it has been reserved makes it susceptible to challenge under Section 34 of the Act as the same conflicts with India’s public policy. All the same, post-COVID-19 virtual hearings have taken centre stage, offering a cost-effective and convenient option. How can clients strategically navigate these developments to optimize their outcomes in arbitration cases? Party autonomy is the centre of any arbitration proceedings. The arbitration agreement is the foundation of any arbitration process. Strategic planning by the clients is paramount in optimizing the outcomes of arbitration cases. The clients should keep abreast of changes in Indian arbitration law. Understanding these changes will help them make informed decisions. Assessing suitable dispute resolution method(s) based on costs, timing, specific needs, etc., is a must. Equally, the clients must use a wellconsidered Arbitration Agreement. Depending on the nature of the dispute, Clients should choose the right arbitration institution, governing laws, number of arbitrators, seat of arbitration, etc. Clients should ensure that the contracts and arbitration agreements comply with the latest legal developments. How have advancements in technology and digital platforms influenced the arbitration process in India? Technology is profoundly transforming the arbitration landscape in India. A significant development is the embrace of online case management systems by Indian arbitration institutions. These systems streamline the process for clients, enabling them to file cases, monitor proceedings, and access documents online effortlessly. The pandemic catalyzed the rise of virtual hearings in India, providing clients with enhanced flexibility and cost-effectiveness. E-discovery tools are particularly noteworthy, revolutionizing document management and making the review process more efficient. A conversation with Gunita Pahwa Gunita Pahwa Joint Managing Partner E: S&A Law Offices W: