Hammurabi & Solomon firm profile: Of Babylon & corporate law

Shweta Bharti’s H&S explains creative naming talents
With over 50 lawyers working across three offices now, a strategy consulting arm and future plans turning towards tier-two cities, Delhi-headquartered Hammurabi & Solomon (H&S) had a modest start with two founding partners and two associates.

Coined after the ancient codified Babylonian laws, the Hammurabi Code, and landmark company law case Solomon vs Solomon, H&S was founded in 2001 by former Amarchand Mangaldas lawyer and NLSIU Bangalore 1995 graduate Manoj Kumar and 1999 Delhi University law graduate Shweta Bharti (pictured).

Senior partner Bharti, who is also married to managing partner Kumar, tells Legally India: “The intention was not to have a personalised name, one that stands out in itself and that is not associated with one person and that people with diverse backgrounds are able to connect with it.”

She adds: “Manoj was already in Amarchand Mangaldas for six years and there was a choice to either join another law firm or start up our own. With the clients being so encouraging they actually pushed us to start our own firm.”

Firm Fact File
Offices and heads: 3; Delhi (Shweta Bharti), Mumbai (Manoj Kumar), Ranchi (Alok Anand)
Total number of lawyers: 56+ across regional geographies
Number of partners: 6 (4 equity, 2 non-equity)
Practice areas: M&A, FDI advisory, corporate litigation and arbitration, corporate strategy and policy support and taxation
Practice area split by turnover: 50% transactional, 50% contentious
Top clients: Not disclosed.
Fresher recruitment process: Off-campus interviews, internships and personal references – all mindful of equal opportunity.
Most impressive interns or students in past year: Amity & Nalsar

Besides Kumar and Bharti the firm has two more equity partners and two others who are salaried and paid-to-earn equity partners.

Managing the firm entails conducting weekly brainstorming sessions with all partners in attendance.

Bharti says that the ratio between dispute resolution and purely corporate advisory work for the firm was roughly fifty-fifty, with main practice areas including M&A, FDI advisory, corporate litigation and arbitration, corporate strategy and policy support and taxation.

Bharti explains that this is also reflected by the split of 25 lawyers each focusing exclusively on litigation and transactional work respectively, with further specialist subdivisions beneath that.

H&S currently has offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Ranchi, while future plans for H&S’s expansion, according to Bharti, include opening two new offices in Ahmedabad and Jaipur through which the firm hopes to cater to the legal requirements of existing clients in those cities.

In terms of overseas work, there were some German and Belgian clients for whom the firm did significant transactional work with local counsel, Bharti says, although she declined to name any names of clients.

On the issue of liberalisation of the market, Bharti says: “I am personally in favour of foreign law firms coming to India because my idea is very clear that they not going to come to India to practice Indian law,” although she adds that her views may not necessarily be the views of all other members of H&S or other firms. “We’ll have better standard of infrastructure support understanding, preparedness and I don’t think they [foreign lawyers] are going to be interested in visiting courts and doing litigation.”

The firm’s co-founder and CEO Rohit Bansal – a non-lawyer, along with managing partner Kumar, also co-founded H&S’s consulting arm India Strategy Group LLP to provide business solution and consultancy services to clients.

In terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), Bharti explains that the firm has been involved on a number draft bills and measures, including on “legal architecture around a black hole in India’s internal security mechanisms” which would soon emerge into the public eye, election expenditure reform to curb illicit expenditure.

Legally India’s law firm profiles are a new series where we look behind the scenes of Indian law firms and the way they work and play. All profiles are free of charge and independently written by Legally India’s editorial team.

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