Kirtee Kapoor, head of Davis Polk & Wardwell’s India practice, who passed away on 5 June in a town south of San Francisco, California, is remembered by a former colleague and fellow lawyers for his warmth and wit, and for being a fantastic lawyer.
Describing Mr Kapoor as “a friend, mentor and brother-in-arms,” Amit Kataria, a Hong Kong-based partner at Morrison & Foerster who worked with Mr Kapoor at Davis Polk, said: “I still very vividly remember meeting him for the first time back in 2006 at the Davis Polk cafeteria in New York – and the warmth, confidence and compassion he remarkably exuded … His simple (but enormously witty) one-line solutions to every complex problem (no matter how difficult or unsolvable) were sufficient to effortlessly slice any Gordian knot which life could offer. We worked together on many extremely complex and innovative transactions and I can confidently say that no rankings or stellar reviews could do justice to or otherwise adequately reflect his outstanding legal acumen. Rest in Peace, Kirtee Kapoor – you will be missed as a dear friend.”
Cyril Shroff, managing partner of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, said: “The passing of Kirtee is a personal loss. Apart from being a fantastic lawyer he was an exceptional human being and professional. The global profession is poorer today with his death.”
Zia Mody, managing partner of AZB & Partners, said Mr Kapoor was a “strong lawyer”. “He had the gift of getting both the macro and micro right. And always understood the client’s business drivers,” said Mody, adding that he “will be much missed by the legal fraternity”.
Amit Singh, a partner at Allen & Overy, knew Mr Kapoor from 1997, when they were together at Balliol College, Oxford. “Kirtee came across as an extremely driven, optimistic and intelligent man,” said Singh. “He did very well academically and then went on to have a glittering legal career. His untimely demise is a huge shock – he had much to contribute.”
Rajat Sethi, a partner at S&R Associates, described Mr Kapoor as “a lawyer’s lawyer”: “I first got to know Kirtee in law school. In his quest for learning, he was always second to none. If law school required one textbook to be reviewed, Kirtee would, without fail, review five background books apart from the prescribed textbook. As a lawyer, he was well respected by his peers. He adapted very well to new and challenging situations, and in fact revelled in such situations.”
Davis Polk & Wardwell said Mr Kapoor was “a truly wonderful man”.
Mr Kapoor had an LLM from New York University School of Law, a BCL from Balliol College, an LLB from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, and an undergraduate degree from Hindu College, University of Delhi.
He joined Davis Polk’s New York office as an associate in 1999. When he became a partner at the firm in 2007, he was one of the first lawyers with an LLB from India to be elected to the partnership of a top international law firm. He was at Davis Polk’s Hong Kong office from 2007 until 2015, when he moved to its northern California office in Menlo Park. He advised on significant M&A matters and investments and other transactions around the world.
Among these transactions was an extremely complex 2014 deal which saw Diageo gain control of United Spirits through a US$1.9 billion open offer. Mr Kapoor and his team advised Citigroup Global Markets India, which was financial adviser to an independent committee of the board of directors of United Spirits. At least 13 other law firms advised the various parties on this transaction.
Mr Kapoor, 46, died after being hit by a commuter train. He is survived by his wife Sushma Sharma – a lawyer turned entrepreneur – and a young daughter, Leela.