Bright spot: Top law firms betting big on south Indian markets

Top corporate law firms have enhanced their presence in the south Indian markets as the region keeps attracting new investments even as existing businesses continue to boom.

Published: 04th December 2021 11:21 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2021 10:48 AM   |  A+A-

Court Hammer, judgement, order, Gavel

For representational purpose. (File Photo)

Express News Service

Top corporate law firms have enhanced their presence in the south Indian markets as the region keeps attracting new investments even as existing businesses continue to boom. Haigreve Khaitan, managing partner of Kolkata-based Khaitan & Co, says that he sees tremendous potential in that part of the country because of the number of large family-owned conglomerates and business houses there, multinational corporations and medium scale enterprises. 

“Chennai has diverse sectors — automobiles, textiles, cement, engineering, and pharmaceuticals — which are growing sectors in India today,” Khaitan said. “That means business prospects are bright for the near future.” That includes the presence of Caterpillar, General Electric, Hyundai and Kia, as well as Michelin Tyres, and aviation giant Boeing. Also, there is ample land and skilled labour is easier to acquire. And for law firms setting up shop here, it means that unlike earlier for complex transactions a client may not necessarily have to go to Mumbai or New Delhi. 

Khaitan says “As far as India goes, we have been in this market for over a century and expanding our footprint nationally to provide more focused client support is the next logical step - hence the expansion to Chennai.” Khaitan & Co acquired Assentio Legal, a south Indian law firm with a deep understanding of the market in Chennai, and currently Khaitan has four partners in Chennai and 16 in Bengaluru. With the addition of Assentio KCO’s now got a total of 20 lawyers in Chennai. 

According to Projects Today, fresh investments into Tamil Nadu more than doubled to over `1,00,000 crore during 2020-21, with the southern state witnessing the second highest investment among all the states. Tamil Nadu jumped from the ninth position in 2019-20, when 465 projects worth `47,833 crore were announced, to the second in 2020-21, with 573 projects worth `1,02,652 crore. Projects Today is an independent firm tracking investments in the country.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and overall volatility, private equity and venture capital companies also invested $598 million in Tamil Nadu-based companies in 33 deals last year. All of that has meant that corporate law firms and in particular lawyers specialising in M&A and private equity have been the beneficiaries of those investments. 

Other firms like Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (CAM) say that the talent to be found in the south is exceptional. CAM claims it has around 175 lawyers across states in south India has offices in Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, and covers Kochi on a fly-in-fly-out basis, also is of the view that each city has its own nuances.

“Each city is different. Bangalore is our largest office by far. The scope includes corporate deals, real estate, tech advisory and litigation.  There is also a lot of start-up work and globally it’s very connected to the USA and the West coast,” Shroff said. “We see tremendous scope (in the south.)” Of late, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (SAMCO) also ramped up its presence in Chennai. 

Dorothy Thomas, Partner heading the Chennai office of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, says that while Hyderabad picks up and then loses steam and its legal market is always fluctuating, Bangalore is always steady with its tech driven intellectual property and patent law. She adds that Chennai was historically focused on old world sectors that include manufacturing and textiles but has seen commerce increase in the last year. During the previous government, policy was not as stable, she says and that has changed now. SAMCO added as many as 35 lawyers in Chennai alone in the last year. 

Others see the growth but feel they can work with clients from their home turf. “We can service our clients in Chennai as well as other south Indian cities from AZB in Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi. The last year especially has taught us all that work continues regardless of geographic boundaries across state lines,” says Zia Mody, founding partner at AZB & Partners.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp