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LI Ranking 2023: Top 10 Corporate lawyers in India

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LI Ranking

Published on: December 02, 2023 at 13:24 IST

In the pursuit of recognizing outstanding achievements and celebrating the remarkable contributions of lawyers in the legal profession, Law Insider India proudly presents its exclusive list of the ” Top 10 Corporate lawyers in India” These exceptional legal professionals have demonstrated unparalleled expertise, dedication, and innovation in the field of law, shaping the legal landscape with their exemplary work.

The selection criteria for this ranking were rigorous and comprehensive, focusing on several key factors such as:

  • Legal Expertise: Evaluating the depth and breadth of their legal knowledge across various practice areas while considering their expertise in specific fields of law, such as corporate law, criminal law, human rights, intellectual property, etc.
  • Professional Experience: The number of years they have been practicing law and the variety of cases they have handled. Experience often reflects a lawyer’s ability to navigate complex legal issues effectively.
  • Case Success: Assessed the track record of successful cases, including notable wins, settlements, or verdicts. Successful outcomes while demonstrating their competence and effectiveness as lawyers. 
  • Leadership: Evaluated the leadership roles within law firms, legal organizations, or community initiatives. Leadership qualities often indicate a lawyer’s ability to influence and drive positive change in the legal field.
  • International Representation: Recognizing their global presence and representation in legal matters, signifying their reach and impact beyond borders.
  • Client Satisfaction: Incorporating client testimonials, feedback, or reviews about their legal services. Satisfied clients served as a testament to their professionalism, exceptional communication skills, and client-centric approach.
  • Legal Awards and Recognition: Considering awards, honors, or memberships in prestigious legal associations.

By carefully evaluating practicing lawyers based on these criterias, the comprehensive guide of “Top 10 Corporate lawyers in India” has been enumerated which is as following:

1.Bahram Navroz Vakil

Bahram Navroz Vakil belonging from a family of legal professionals, an expert in project finance, spent two decades at Little & Co. before partnering with CZM. 

As one of the co-founders and senior partners at AZB & Partners, Bahram N Vakil is a highly respected figure in India’s infrastructure and project finance legal landscape. Bahram is one of the few lawyers in India to have been involved in five out of the eight fast-track power projects, earning recognition as a leading project finance attorney in numerous international publications over the course of a decade.

He has an extensive experience in Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, and Project Finance, earning praise for his work in the project finance field. He is Recognized as the “King of the Power Sector” by Chambers & Partners, he also specializes in power and infrastructure, providing counsel to clients on various infrastructure projects in India, including those in the power, oil and natural gas, telecommunications, mining, airports, and port sectors.

2.Harish Salve

Harish Salve is a distinguished Indian senior advocate practicing at the Supreme Court of India. He held the position of Solicitor General of India from November 1, 1999, to November 3, 2002. 

Throughout his career, Harish Salve has been a prominent figure in the legal landscape, representing clients in a wide range of cases. He argued the first Anti-Dumping case in the Supreme Court of India and has frequently represented major corporations, including Reliance Industries Limited, the Tata Group, and ITC Limited. His notable victories include the Vodafone tax dispute case against the Indian government.

Shardul S. Shroff currently serves as the Executive Chairman of the Firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. and oversees the Insolvency & Bankruptcy practice.

His role involves shaping the Firm’s vision, emphasizing solutions as trusted advisors, and fostering excellence, responsiveness, innovation, and collaboration. Shardul focuses on guiding the Firm’s strategy, building strong client relationships, and facilitating internal cohesion among Partners. With over four decades of experience, his expertise spans various areas, including Insolvency and Bankruptcy, Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities Law, Government Regulations, Disinvestment & Capital Markets, and Debt Recovery, establishing the Firm as a leader in these practice areas.

Shardul has a legal expert for advisory and representation on significant matters related to Insolvency and Bankruptcy proceedings, Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities Law, Government Regulations, Disinvestment, and Capital Markets.

Shardul has vital experience in Handling diverse bank borrowing and lending transactions for clients like IDFC, IFCI, ICICI, IDBI, RaboBank with an Extensive practice in bank loan recovery actions, debt reconstruction proceedings before the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), asset reconstruction, and securitization under the SARFAESI Act.

Shardul has a vital experience in Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring Project where he has made his Representation in Videocon Hydrocarbon Holdings Limited in the sale of its stake in Videocon Mozambique Rovuma 1 Limited. He has also been Involved in General Electric Company’s transaction, including the sale of shareholding and controlling interest in GE Capital Services India and GE Money Financial Services Private Limited.

4. Ajay Bahl

Ajay Bahl serves as a senior partner in the Delhi office of AZB & Partners.

Ajay Bahl, who is based in Delhi, possesses a unique combination of skills, being both a chartered accountant and a lawyer. On his journey, he expressed surprise at the eventual convergence of his path with Soli’s daughter, ultimately leading to his acceptance of Bahram’s proposal to merge Ajay Bahl & Company with CZB, forming AZB in 2004. He described this merger as an instinctive decision.

Ajay Bahl is widely acknowledged as one of India’s preeminent corporate attorneys. His unique qualification as a chartered accountant is a valuable asset in navigating intricate, high-profile legal and tax transactions. 

Ajay frequently provides counsel to clients regarding investigations into allegations of fraud and financial statement misrepresentations, as well as matters pertaining to tax and regulatory filings. His prowess in addressing issues related to structuring, restructuring, and transfer pricing has earned him accolades from Chambers & Partners Asia-Pacific, which commended his “keen business acumen and ability to take a leading role.”

5. Abhishek Manu Singhvi

Abhishek Manu Singhvi is a prominent senior advocate and a politician. In his political role, he is a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) and presently serves as a Member of the Parliament of India, representing West Bengal in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament. He also holds the position of spokesperson for the INC. Notably, he is recognized as one of the senior advocates in the Supreme Court of India.

Singhvi belongs from a Marwari family, and his father, Laxmi Mall Singhvi, was a distinguished scholar in Jain history and culture. Laxmi Mall Singhvi, a renowned lawyer, also served as India’s former High Commissioner to the UK and was elected to the Rajya Sabha from 1998 to 2004. Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s mother is named Kamla Singhvi.

Singhvi has been a prominent figure in the legal proceedings surrounding these crucial matters, consistently advocating for various leading private telecom companies, he is the legal representative for Bharti, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular, addressing three critical issues: the imposition of one-time spectrum fees, the 3G intra-circle roaming agreement, and license renewals. The cumulative financial impact of these cases could potentially exceed Rs 1,00,000 crore.

6. Jyoti sagar

Jyoti Sagar, with a legal career spanning from 1976, established J. Sagar Associates (JSA) in New Delhi in 1991, initially as a sole practitioner. In 1994, he also founded K&S Partners, specializing in Intellectual Property, which has since grown to encompass over 80 professionals, emerging as a prominent player in the field.

He introduced innovative approaches to the organization and management of Indian law firms, characterized by distinctive features in both JSA and K&S. These include a ‘no family’ rule, admission to partnership without the requirement of a goodwill buy-in, the establishment of retirement age for partners, inventive partner compensation mechanisms, and a shared vision, mission, and core values.

Jyoti holds the position of Associate President in the Society of Indian Law Firms, has served as the Past President of the Asian Patent Attorneys Association (Indian Group), and currently serves as one of the International Vice Presidents of the Asian Patent Attorneys Association.

In addition to his legal contributions, he chairs the Society for Urban Regeneration of Gurgaon, an organization dedicated to addressing long-term sustainable development issues in the National Capital Region.

He is a trustee for the Genesis Foundation, which provides critical medical assistance to underprivileged children suffering from congenital heart defects, and supports Deepalaya, an organization involved in the education of underprivileged children in the National Capital Region. Furthermore, he serves on the Board of Governors for The Scindia School in Gwalior.

Jyoti Sagar has received numerous accolades and recognitions over the years. The Asia Pacific Legal 500 has described him as “widely respected” and “immensely versatile and experienced,” and he is considered one of India’s most esteemed lawyers, highly regarded in his field.

7. Berjis Minoo Desai

Berjis Desai, boasts a distinguished legal career spanning 42 years, primarily focused on transactional and dispute resolution law.

From 2003, Mr. Desai assumed the role of Managing Partner at J. Sagar Associates (JSA), a national law firm with a team of over 300 lawyers. In 2016, he ascended to the position of Senior Partner. His tenure at JSA concluded upon reaching the age of 60 on April 1, 2017.

Currently, Mr. Desai serves as an independent legal counsel, specializing in Private Client Practice. This includes handling succession and estate planning matters for High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) and promoter families using instruments like wills, trusts, and family arrangements.

He also facilitates the resolution of family, testamentary, and business disputes through mediation and confidential fast-track arbitration. Additionally, Mr. Desai provides advisory services in the fields of insolvency and asset reconstruction.

Mr. Desai holds directorship positions in prominent publicly traded and non-listed companies in India, including The Great Eastern Shipping Company Limited, Praj Industries Limited, Jubilant Food Works Limited, Man Infraconstruction Limited, Nuvoco Vistas Corporation Limited, Star Health & Allied Insurance Company Limited, and Emcure Pharmaceuticals Limited.

Beyond his legal pursuits, Mr. Desai’s diverse interests encompass his former role as a working journalist, as well as his identity as a writer and columnist. His books, such as ‘OH! THOSE PARSIS’ – A to Z of the Parsi Way of life, and ‘The Bawaji’: Chronicles of a Vanishing Community, have enjoyed the status of bestsellers in the Amazon Essay Books category. Furthermore, his recently published novel, ‘Towers of Silence,’ showcases his creative talents. He also engages in the study of esoteric Zoroastrianism and comparative religions.

Aryama Sundaram holds the esteemed title of senior advocate, specializing primarily in corporate law while also delving into constitutional law and media-related cases. Among his notable clients are the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Anil Ambani, both prominent figures in their respective fields.

Sundaram embarked on his legal journey at the Madras High Court before eventually ascending to the Supreme Court. He was further honed his expertise at Madras Law College, earning a law degree and even securing a gold medal in philosophy from Madras University.

The inception of his private practice posed a significant risk, especially when he joined a new firm, Nataraj Rao Raghu & Sundaram, after leaving his initial position at King & Partridge.

Sundaram’s career highlights include groundbreaking cases, such as his involvement in one of India’s first medical malpractice suits in 1986. This case, devoid of consumer protection laws at the time, set a precedent with a compensation award of Rs 17.38 lakh, a substantial sum back then.

He also fought freedom of speech and expression, handling landmark cases like S. Rangarajan vs P. Jagjivan Ram and successfully advocating for Khushwant Singh, enabling the release of his book based on the principles of free speech.

In addition to his noteworthy achievements, Sundaram has made a mark in constitutional law and media-related cases, including his involvement in high-profile matters like Haldia Petrochemicals and Cyrus Mistry’s oppression/mismanagement case, as well as UOI vs Vedanta concerning the enforcement of foreign awards.

9.Sidharth Luthra

Sidharth Luthra, is a distinguished senior advocate practicing at the Supreme Court of India. In July 2012, he was appointed for the role of Additional Solicitor General of India at the Supreme Court, where he diligently represented the union and various state governments in cases concerning fundamental rights, electoral reforms, criminal law, and policy matters.

However, in May 2014, he chose to step down from this esteemed position. Notably, Sidharth Luthra is the son of the esteemed senior advocate K.K. Luthra and the brother of senior advocate Geeta Luthra.

Luthra’s legal expertise primarily revolves around criminal law, white-collar crimes, and cyber frauds.

One of his notable legal representations involved serving as counsel for the late Union Minister of Finance, Shri Arun Jaitley, in a criminal defamation lawsuit filed against the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal.

Beyond his legal practice, Sidharth Luthra actively participates in the legal community. He holds membership in the Delhi State Legal Services Authority and serves as the Vice-President of the Indian Criminal Justice Society. Additionally, he plays a role on the advisory boards of two prominent Indian legal journals, namely the Delhi Law Times and the Delhi Reported Judgements. Impressively, Luthra dedicates a substantial portion of his caseload, approximately 30 to 40 percent, to pro bono cases, exemplifying his commitment to public service.

Notably, Luthra’s legal journey included his involvement in significant case of Tehelka (2002) where He represented Tehelka Magazine before the Justice Venkataswami Commission, which was formed in the aftermath of the Operation West End sting operation. During the proceedings, he cross-examined the then Union Defence Minister George Fernandes.

10. Rabindra Jhunjhunwala

Rabindra Jhunjhunwala leads the Firm’s IBA, UIA, France desk, and Germany desk initiatives. He also holds a position as an officer on the IBA Corporate and M&A Committee, and he serves as a Counsellor to the President of the Union Internationale des Avocats.

His legal practice encompasses various domains, including both domestic and cross-border M&A, private equity investments, transaction documentation, and he provides regular counsel to his clients on all aspects of foreign investments, whether inbound or outbound, along with regulatory approvals. He has offered guidance to numerous multinational corporations and Indian enterprises in intricate and substantial M&A transactions.

Rabindra has received numerous awards and accolades, earning consistent recognition from reputable legal publications.

Disclaimer

The rankings of “Top 10 Practicing Corporate lawyers” provided on this platform are based on a thorough evaluation process conducted by our team of experts. However, it’s crucial to note that these rankings are subjective and should be considered as general guidelines rather than absolute truths. The legal industry is dynamic, and rankings can change overtime based on various factors, including client portfolios and market trends.