Allen & Overy hires co-head of corporate at India relationship firm Trilegal

Partner will head up India corporate group in London as Magic Circle firm eyes inbound investment work

Allen & Overy (A&O) has hired the co-head of corporate at India relationship firm Trilegal as it targets inbound investment work generated by the fast-growing economy.

Harsh Pais will move from Delhi to London to lead the Magic Circle UK firm’s India corporate practice which forms part of a larger India group comprising more than 100 partners, according to the firm.

Co-head of global corporate David Broadley said: “As the world’s second fastest growing major economy, in the last three years India has attracted $159bn of inbound investment.

“As a market of increasing focus for clients, India is an important part of our global strategy and a hire of Harsh’s calibre and pedigree is key to us realising our ambitions there.”

Trilegal boasts a top-rated corporate practice and has long associations with A&O. The two firms operated a non-exclusive referral relationship between 2008 and 2012 and Trilegal remains a relationship firm.

Pais spent three years working at Weil Gotshal & Manges in New York before moving back to India and developing his career there, first with AZB & Partners and then Trilegal.

In a statement, Nishant Parikh and Sridhar Gorthi, partners and members of Trilegal’s management committee paid tribute to his work growing the corporate team.

They added: “He has mentored a strong team of lawyers who will continue to provide clients with the high quality of service they have come to expect of us. We wish Harsh all the best.”

India remains a closed market for international firms and there is little prospect of it opening up given the strength of the local bar.  A&O and Trilegal blamed the slow progress of liberalisation on their decision to end their referral relationship although they continue to work together; Trilegal wrote the India chapter of an employment guide published by A&O last year.

Pais said he looked forward to opportunities to work with Trilegal in his new role. 

His arrival at A&O follows the departure of former India practice co-head Ash Tiwari for Baker McKenzie in January. Tiwari was a counsel at A&O and joined her new firm as a partner with a brief to ‘accelerate’ its ‘outbound strategy around Indian businesses’.

Nick Robbins, founder and director of Nicholas Scott Global Legal Recruitment, said such a senior hire from a leading Indian firm by a top UK firm was unusual.

He added: “I would say it was a sign of a shift in thinking at the top level of a major law firm where they are seeing China as an increasingly slow and difficult market to do business in and turning greater attention to India.”

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