TOP 10 CORPORATE LAWYERS IN INDIA
Written by Jaya Pathak
A corporate lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in corporate law, which deals with the formation, operation, governance, and legal aspects of corporations and other business entities. Corporate lawyers provide legal advice and guidance to businesses, corporate clients and organizations on various corporate matters. Their primary focus is on assisting companies in complying with applicable laws and regulations and ensuring that business transactions and operations are conducted in a legally sound manner.
A corporate lawyer typically handle a wide range of legal issues including assisting with the formation and structuring of business entities such as corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and joint ventures, advising on corporate governance matters including board structures, director responsibilities, shareholder rights, compliance with corporate laws and regulatory requirements. They may assist business in complying with various laws and regulations specific to their industry.
The corporate lawyers play a crucial role in helping companies navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure legal compliance while protecting their interests and minimizing legal risks. Corporate law, also known as company law or business law, refers to the legal framework that governs the formation, operation and dissolution of corporations or other types of business entities. It is a branch of law that deals with the rights, responsibilities and relationships of individuals, companies, shareholders, directors, employees and other stakeholders involved in corporate entities.
Corporate law encompasses a wide range of legal matters including incorporation, corporate governance, shareholder rights, mergers and acquisitions, securities regulation, corporate finance etc. Corporate law can vary across jurisdictions, as each country has its own legal system and regulations governing corporations. It is important for businesses to understand and comply with the corporate laws and regulations relevant to their jurisdiction to operate within the legal framework and protect the interests of the company and its stakeholders.
Corporate law and commercial law are closely related areas of legal practice, but they focus on different aspects of business and legal matters. Corporate law primarily deals with the legal framework governing the formation, organization, and operation of corporations or other types of business entities. It focuses on the rights, obligations and relationships between the company and its stakeholders, including shareholders, directors and officers.
Corporate law encompasses matters such as corporate governance, internal management structures, shareholders’ rights, fiduciary duties of directors and regulatory compliance specific to corporation. On the other hand, a commercial law is broader and covers a wide range of legal matters related to business and commercial transactions. It encompasses various areas, including contract law, sales of goods, banking and finance, commercial contracts and trade regulations.
Commercial law focuses on contracts and legal relationships between businesses and individuals engaged in commercial activities. It includes drafting, negotiating and enforcing commercial contracts, such as purchase agreements, supply contracts, service agreements and licensing arrangements.
Here is the list of top 10 corporate lawyers in India:-
01. Harish Salve
He is one of India’s prominent lawyers and has been involved in numerous high-profile and landmark cases throughout his career. He represented India at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage.
Harish Salve represented Vodafone revolved around the issue of whether Vodafone’s acquisition of a majority stake in in the high-profile tax dispute with the Indian government. The case Hutchison Essar in 2007 was subject to Indian capital gains tax. Salve successfully argued before the Supreme Court of India that the transaction took place outside India and was not liable for taxation. The court ruled in favor of Vodafone in 2012.
Harish Salve represented Reliance Industries Ltd. in a landmark legal battle against Reliance Natural Resources Ltd over the supply of natural gas from the Krishna-Godavari basin. The case involved complex issues of contract interpretation and gas pricing. Salve argued that RIL had the right to determine the price of gas and the quantity to be supplied. The Supreme Court of India ruled in favor of RIL in 2010.
02. Bahram Vakil
He is a well-known corporate lawyer in India. He co-founded the law firm AZB & Partners in 2004, which has since grown to become one of the leading law firms in India. Vakil specializes in corporate and commercial law, with a particular focus on mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions and corporate restructuring. Throughout his career, Bahram Vakil has advised numerous domestic and international clients on a wide range of corporate matters. He has played a significant role in shaping the legal landscape of corporate India and has been involved in several high-profile transactions and deals.
Vakil’s expertise extends to various sectors, including banking, finance, telecommunication, energy and infrastructure. His extensive experience and deep understanding of corporate law have earned him recognition and accolades from both clients and industry peers. He is known for his strategic approach, attention to detail and commitment to delivering exceptional legal services. He is highly regarded for his ability to navigate complex legal issues and provide practical solutions to clients.
03. Shardul S. Shroff
He is well known corporate lawyer in India and has handled numerous significant corporate cases throughout his career. One of the famous cases in which Shardul played a prominent role is the Satyam Computer Services Satyam Computer Services was an Indian IT services company that faced a massive accounting fraud in 2009. The company’s founder and chairman, Ramalinga Raju, admitted to inflating the company’s profits and manipulating financial statements to the tune of billions of dollars.
This scandal shook the corporate and investor community in India and garnered international attention. He along with his team from the law firm Amarchand Mangaldas was appointed as the legal counsel to the new board of directors of Satyam Computer Services. He played a crucial role in guiding the company through the crisis and overseeing its transformation and eventual acquisition by tech Mahindra.
04. Cyril Shroff
He is a prominent corporate lawyer based in India and is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading legal professionals. He is the managing partner of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in India. With his exceptional legal acumen and strategic expertise, Cyril Shroff has played a significant role in shaping India’s corporate landscape.
Known for his meticulous approach and deep understanding of the legal and business environment, Cyril Shroff has been instrumental in shaping the legal framework for corporate governance in India. He has actively contributed to the development and implementation of legal and regulatory reforms in the country, serving on various government committees and advisory boards.
05. Zia Mody
She is a prominent Indian corporate lawyer and has been involved in several significant cases throughout her career. One of the famous cases in which Zia Mody and her firm, AZB & Partners, played a crucial role is the Vodafone-Hutchison tax case. The case revolved around the tax implications of Vodafone’s acquisition of a majority stake in Hutchison Essar, a telecommunications company operating in India.
The Indian tax authorities contended that Vodafone was liable to pay capital gains tax on the transaction, despite it being a cross-border deal. The tax authorities argued that the transaction involved the transfer of Indian assets and therefore attracted capital gains tax. Zia Mody and her team represented Vodafone in this high-profile case and successfully argued before the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Vodafone in 2012, stating that the transaction did not give rise to a taxable event in India.
The judgement had significant implications for cross-border mergers and acquisitions in India and clarified the tax position in such transactions. Her expertise in corporate law and her strategic advocacy in the Vodafone-Hutchison tax case helped establish important legal precedents in India’s taxation regime. Her role in successfully representing Vodafone in this case further cemented her reputation as a leading corporate lawyer.
06. Mohit Saraf
He is a highly accomplished corporate lawyer based in India. Mohit Saraf’s designation is Founder & Managing Partner, Saraf and Partners. With his expertise in corporate and commercial law, Saraf has made significant contributions to the legal profession. Saraf specializes in mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and general corporate advisory. He has advised numerous domestic and international clients, including major corporations, financial institutions and multinational companies on complex and high-stakes transactions.
Known for his strategic thinking, attention to detail and commercial acumen, Mohit Saraf has been involved in several landmark deals and transactions. He has played a crucial role in shaping the corporate landscape in India, advising clients across various sectors, including banking, finance, energy, infrastructure and telecommunication. He is highly regarded for his client-focused approach, prioritizing the interests and objectives of his clients while providing practical and commercially viable solutions. He is known for his ability to navigate complex legal and regulatory frameworks, ensuring compliance and mitigating risks for his clients.
07. Jyoti Sagar
He is a renowned corporate lawyer from India. He is the founder and chairman of J. Sagar Associates, one of the leading law firms in the country. With over four decades of experience, Jyoti Sagar has made significant contributions to the legal profession and played a crucial role in shaping India’s corporate and commercial landscape. Sagar specializes in corporate and commercial law, with expertise in mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, capital markets and corporate restructuring.
He has advised numerous domestic and international clients on a wide range of complex transactions, including high-profile mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances. Apart from his professional engagements, Jyoti Sagar has also been actively involved in promoting legal education and reforms. He has served on several committees and advisory board related to legal and regulatory issues. Additionally, he is a sought-after speaker at conferences and seminars and has contributed to legal publications, sharing his insights and expertise with the legal community.
08. Ashok H. Desai
Ashok H. Desai is a highly respected lawyer in India, known for his contributions to corporate law and commercial litigation. With extensive experience spanning several decades, Desai has earned a reputation for his expertise and strategic insights in the legal field. Desai has handled a wide range of corporate and commercial matters throughout his career. He has advised clients on complex transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and corporate restructuring. His expertise extends to areas such as corporate governance, competition law and intellectual property rights.
Known for his meticulous approach and analytical thinking, Ashok has been involved in landmark cases and has represented major corporations and organizations before various courts and tribunals. He has also contributed to legal reforms and policy discussions, serving on expert committees and providing valuable insights into the development of corporate law in India. Beside his legal practice, Desai has made significant contributions to academia and legal education. He has been associated with leading law schools and has served as a visiting faculty member, sharing his knowledge and experiences with the next generation of lawyers.
09. Sajan Poovayya
He is a well-known corporate lawyer in India. He is the founder and managing partner of Poovayya & Co., a leading law firm based in Bangalore. With over three decades of experience, Sajan has established himself as a prominent legal professional in the field of corporate and commercial law. Poovayya specializes in corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, corporate governance and intellectual property law. He has advised a diverse range of clients, including multinational corporations, domestic companies, startups and high net-worth individuals.
His expertise extends across various sectors, including technology, media, telecommunication and entertainment. Throughout his career, Sajan has been recognized for his strategic thinking, attention to detail and commitment to delivering high-quality legal services. He has been involved in several complex and high- profile transactions, providing valuable insights and guidance to his clients. His deep understanding of corporate law and his ability to navigate legal complexities have earned him a strong reputation in the legal community.
10. Berjis Minoo Desai
He is a highly regarded corporate lawyer based in India. With extensive experience in corporate and commercial law, Desai has made significant contributions to the field throughout his career. He is a partner at J. Sagar Associates, one of India’s leading law firms, where he heads the firm’s Corporate Commercial Practice in Mumbai. Known for his strategic insights and deep understanding of business dynamics, Berjis Minoo Desai has earned a reputation for his ability to navigate intricate legal and regulatory frameworks.
He provides practical and commercially viable solutions to his clients, ensuring their interests are protected and their objectives are archieved. His expertise extends to various industry sectors, including banking and finance, infrastructure, energy, technology and telecommunications. He has been involved in numerous landmark deals and transactions, contributing to the growth and development of India’s corporate sector.
These lawyers have made significant contributions to corporate law in India and have represented various high-profile clients and cases. It’s worth mentioning that the legal landscape is constantly evolving and there are numerous talented lawyers practicing in the field of corporate law in India.