Sujit Ghosh, a partner and national head at Advaita Legal, has said that he will spend the next few months consolidating his firm’s recent merger with Seth Dua & Associates, while also keeping an open mind about forming another merger.
“We are constantly looking for synergies and people with a similar thinking process,” Ghosh told India Business Law Journal. “If we have an offer, we’ll be more than willing to look at it, but we also don’t mind waiting for the right deal.”
Atul Dua, one of the founders of Seth Dua & Associates, joined the firm as an equity partner along with his entire team of lawyers in Delhi. The merger takes Advaita Legal to a total of 70 lawyers across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, with Ghosh and Dua holding equity stakes.
The team of 20 from Seth Dua & Associates comprises several senior lawyers including Amit Mehta, Sushil Mehta and Subodh Sadana, who have over 15 years of experience and join Advaita as senior principals, a designation similar to executive partners at most law firms. Also a member of the team is VK Agarwal, a competition law expert who brings to the table 33 years of practise including experience of working at the now defunct Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission.
Dua has over 28 years of experience working with law firms and multinational accounting and consulting firms. He established Seth Dua & Associates with his friend and classmate Sunil Seth in 1998. Seth passed away in February after a motorcycle accident at the age of 53. The tragedy, said Dua, was a “great loss to the profession, but also a personal loss to me”.
Dua said he and Seth had discussed the possibility of a merger to help their firm grow and that Seth’s passing had sped up this process.
Bithika Anand, the CEO of Legal League Consulting, introduced Dua and Ghosh, who took the discussion forward themselves.
Ghosh said that identifying a firm with true commitment and a partner with “a shared lineage” were the biggest challenges. “We always harboured a desire to expand beyond our core competencies of tax and litigation, particularly in upcoming areas such as competition law, telecoms and aviation. But we didn’t want to be gobbled up by another firm, so we were looking for a niche, small set of people who could fit into our framework.”
Ghosh said Dua fit the bill very well since both of them had worked within the Big 4 accounting firms and shared a common view towards work culture, ethics and process. In addition, the team at Seth Dua & Associates offered expertise in areas such as competition law and corporate law, creating an ideal synergy for both firms.
Dua told India Business Law Journal that Seth Dua & Associates’ strong corporate practice and Advaita’s tax and litigation strengths made the partnership “a complementary combination which we thought would work well”. Although the merger is bittersweet, bringing the Seth Dua & Associates brand to an end, Dua remains positive about the next chapter.
“It was about time that we leveraged our forces to create a world-class law firm which has a focused industry approach in delivering [high-quality] tax and legal services,” he said. “We are totally geared up for this exciting phase in our professional journey.”
When asked whether there was room for others to share the equity, Ghosh said yes. “There are no glass ceilings.”