Maulik Vyas & Rica Bhattacharyya, ET HR World

Top Law Firms Rule in Favour of Smaller Cities

A recent article posted on the ET HR world talks about how the Indian law firms are expanding beyond metros, focusing on smaller centres like Nashik, Indore, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Pune, Ahmedabad, and Kochi. These firms believe that physical offices in these areas are crucial for their growing corporate and private client portfolios, as well as for cost arbitrage and client retention. Global captives of multinationals, companies in the automobile, electronics, renewable, and real estate sectors are also considering expanding their operations in these areas.

Leading Indian law firms are expanding beyond the metros with several looking to set up offices and hire local talent in smaller centers such as Nashik, Indore, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Pune, Ahmedabad and Kochi.

Representatives of Khaitan & Co., Desai & Diwanji, Khaitan Legal Associates, Economic Laws Practice said there's a strong commercial case for physical offices in small towns that account for their burgeoning corporate and private client portfolios, possess a pipeline of people who can be hired and offer a substantial cost arbitrage. Besides, physical proximity will help in client retention, they said.

"India's growth story over the last decades has also brought about an increase in a new set of clients, who are seeking quality legal services in tier 2 cities," said Amar Sinhji, executive director, human resources, Khaitan & Co. "As a result, we have expanded by setting up offices in Ahmedabad, Pune and will look at one or two more similar towns."

The company is in the process of hiring for its new offices.

Global captives of multinationals as well companies in the automobile, electronics, renewable and real estate sectors, apart from startups, are also looking at expanding their operations into these areas for similar reasons - the cost advantage and availability of people.

Mumbai-headquartered Desai & Diwanji recently opened offices in Pune and Indore. The expansion is part of a broader strategy to leverage capabilities to better assist existing and new clients in underserved locations, said senior partner Shreevardhan Sinha.

Cost Arbitrage

"We anticipate a growing demand for legal services to support various business activities, including general corporate, business advisory, compliance, real estate transactions and dispute resolution," said Sinha.

"To succeed in these markets, firms will need to understand the prevailing dynamics, build strong networks, and offer specialised services tailored to the needs of local businesses." The firm may also open up in Ahmedabad. Khaitan Legal Associates is in the process of setting up a satellite office in Nashik.

"The office will help expand our reach to nearby tier 2 cities in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh," senior partner Sakate Khaitan said, while not being too far from the key hub of Mumbai.

Apart from the presence of sizable business activity and wealth, the availability of high-quality local talent, many from  a growing number of private colleges and National Law Universities, is also luring the legal firms.

"There is talent available locally and also talent that now sees an advantage in... relocating to tier 2 cities as it's perceived to be a better quality of life," said Sinhji of Khaitan & Co. "There is a cost arbitrage for us — cost of living is lower, as is cost of operations and this positively impacts our margins." Economic Laws Practice (ELP) is also planning offices in such towns and cities, said managing partner Suhail Nathani.

"We have established a presence where our clients have manufacturing units, such as Pune and Ahmedabad," he said.

Read more at: