Rica Bhattacharyya, The Economic Times

Companies go on a big legal talent hunt

MUMBAI: A fierce war for talent is unfolding in India's legal industry as demand for skilled legal professionals outpaces supply. The talent crisis is leading India Inc to increasingly pursue legal experts for the roles of chief legal officers and general counsels as large conglomerates and new-age firms aggressively look to bolster their in-house legal teams, according to board members and company officials.The scramble for the best and the brightest legal talent has been ignited by a constantly changing regulatory environment, rising focus on corporate governance and ethical standards, and regularly evolving GST structures. This is leading to a massive churn in CLOs, said HR consultants and company officials.

independent director at several Indian companies."A whole lot of new software coming into the market digitizing things like litigation management, compliance and the various interaction interfaces is also leading to the need for chief legal officers who have a strons understanding of technology," said Haribhakti.

"I am looking for zero non-compliance as an audit committee chair," he added.In October, Rajesh K. Sehgal joined as chief legal officer-energy at Adani Power from Dentons Link Legal. Other recent moves include Anoop Khatry who joined Ultratech Cement from Suzlon Energy; Richa Mohanty Rao who joined Urban Company from Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; Sujeet Jain who joined Nykaa from UltraTech Cement; Sameer Chugh, who joined Games 24 * 7 from CAM;

Shelly Kohli who joined United Breweries from Unilever; Tejal Patil, GC at Wipro who joined from OYO.

Compensation too is soaring due to the talent shortage.

"The role of a chief legal officer (CLO) in India is much more complex and strategic than before," said Jyoti Bowen Nath, managing partner, Claricent Partners.



"There is a constant need for organisations to attract top leadership talent, leading to pay surge," she said.A seasoned CLO could earn anywhere between ?3 crore and ?10 crore or even higher, said Nath. "CLOs are pivotal in steering a company's legal strategy to support growth, manage risk and preserve the organisation's reputation. They align legal initiatives with business goals, ensuring legal compliance while enhancing operational efficiency," said Karl Fernandes, partner and head of the corporate practice group at specialist search firm Vahura. "They often oversee regulatory compliance, government interactions, ethical standards, risk management, and corporate governance."


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