Merger deal creates India’s largest firm

Two of India’s oldest law firms, Fox Mandal and Little & Co, have merged to create the country’s largest legal practice and are on the lookout for further expansion opportunities.

The merger to create Fox Mandal Little (FML) comes at a time when Mumbai-based Little & Co was losing lustre following the departure and retirement of many high-profile partners.

Som Mandal, head of the international practice at FML, told The Lawyer: “We [Fox Mandal] were looking for a merger in Mumbai. We came across Little & Co, which has an outstanding reputation but which needed some new blood.”

The full-service firm has 38 partners, 250 fee-earners and eight offices. It has circumvented the restriction that only allows 20 partners in a partnership by splitting its operation into four zones, each with its own partnership. Each zone also has its own managing partner.

It may be India’s largest firm, but Mandal has not ruled out further growth, saying: “The economy in India is booming and there’s still a lot of scope for growth.”

Mergers remain rare in the Indian legal market, with the 2004 union of CZB & Partners and Ajay Bahl & Co to create AZB & Partners an exception. Lawyers tend to leave to set up on their own once a firm grows to a certain size.