The Rising Stars of Indian Corporate Law

For the first time, RSG reveals its list of second generation lawyers who appeared in the 2010 India report. These individuals were voted, by clients, as the ones to which they would trust their work when the country’s top corporate lawyers are unavailable. 


In an acutely under-lawyered market, being able to obtain quality, hands-on legal advice at short notice can be crucial. RSG decided to identify practitioners who may not be as well known as the big deal makers, but who were considered to be the stars of the future and reliable hands in the present. The following table lists 25 individuals who we believe are leading the second generation of Indian corporate law. Entrants were all recommended by clients and vetted by RSG Consulting.


The list includes founding partners of some of the country’s up and coming law firms and juniors who have advised on some of the largest deals over the past year. Many have experience at UK and US law firms and have returned to the Indian market to grow their own businesses. Others have only domestic experience but have built solid reputations within the Indian corporate and legal establishments. 


A notable shared characteristic of this ‘second generation’ of Indian lawyers is their commitment to the Indian legal market and excitement about its potential. Most want to stay in India and their enthusiasm for being at the forefront of change was striking. The majority could not see the sense in going abroad when the opportunities for Indian lawyers at home are so much greater. 


Many of the established lawyers have spent time building their professional careers outside India. Akil Hirani previously worked at UK law firm TLT, and spent some time in the US where he took the California Bar exam. With international experience under his belt, he returned to India to modernise and grow the family firm. He is now Managing Partner at Majmudar & Co where he also heads the corporate practice. 


Rabindra Jhunjhunwala also spent time working at UK law firms before returning to India. He is continuously recommended by those across the table as someone with commerciality. He moved from Kolkata to Mumbai to set up the new Khaitan office and has a well established presence in advising on FDI and Indian outsourcing. 


Nihar Mody is ex-Wadia Ghandy and ex-Freshfields. He returned to India to setup Platinum Partners, one of the new-style, modern law firms committed to quality. He has already been able to attract talent as a result of his background and domestic reputation. One recent joiner is Gautam Bhatt, who came from Thakker & Thakker in 2009. Mr Bhatt has been recommended as one of the most visible and interesting transactional lawyers in India. 


Another Freshfields alumnus is Bharat Anand, at Khaitan & Co in Delhi. He is eloquent in his wisdom of the potential of the Indian market and has the knowledge of working abroad to prove it. His niche is cross border investments M&A, strategic M&A, public listed companies and venture capital. 


Krishnava Dutt came straight out of the corporate department at Amarchand to set up his own firm, Argus Partners. He is seen as a sharp, distinctive individual who has made the most of the booming Indian infrastructure market working on number of large water-related deals over the past year. 


Similarly, Prem Rajani moved from Crawford Bayley to set up his own firm, Rajani Associates, and had the savvy sense to stand by Essar Group when the company was in trouble a few years ago. Now they are one of his top clients. 


The list also includes younger rising stars of Indian corporate M&A. Many have international expertise and knowledge from periods of work or study at prestigious law firms or institutions abroad. Their names are becoming familiar on large cross-border deals. 


Junior lawyers at India’s top firms – Amarchand & Mangaldas and AZB & Partners – may have some sizeable deals on their plates, but they also stand in the shadows of the country’s biggest names. A number have emerged to build their own profiles and lead work with some of their firms’ top clients.  


At AZB & Partners, Shuva Mandal has progressed from a smart junior to a credible partner with an excellent reputation with some of the firm’s key clients, including Reliance. Clients acknowledged Mr Mandal as someone to turn to for strategic M&A, investments and private equity advice and his 24/7 commitment was remarked upon by many. 


The other AZB lawyer to make the list is Essaji Vahanvati, described as a bold and ambitious lawyer and one who is playing an increasingly visible role on some of the firm’s largest transactions. Specialising in inward investment, Mr Vahanvati is undoubtedly wise to the fact that India is the place to be. 


At Amarchand & Mangaldas, Ashwath Rau came highly recommended and was identified as a rising star. Mr Rau heads the funds practice whist dealing with M&A, private equity and venturing into competition law at the same time. 


If you would like a copy of RSG’s directory of Second Generation lawyers or further information about this list, please contact us at