Interview with: Dr. Manoj Kumar, Founder & Managing Partner

Hammurabi & Solomon Partners | View firm profile

It is now 20 years for Hammurabi & Solomon – before we seek your views on your journey so far, we would like to pick your mind on the present and the future for the legal services sector. Currently, we can see that law firms around the world are hunkering down in the period of the pandemic, for instance- firms are cutting back on research and innovation. Your firm, however, follows something quite the opposite to that. Can you elucidate the model the firm follows?

The firm has been running for 20 years now and while starting the journey we were sure about one thing that if we have to expand, we have to adapt to the needs of clients, trends, research and innovate in every field. H&S has always worked on a unique approach to provide workable, operational, and value-adding solutions for both long term and short-term goals. The firm has collocated the specialists by practice area. We are challenging the legal services market to do things differently. It’s about drawing on our firm’s breadth of knowledge and broader business perspectives and combining it with high-quality legal expertise. Finally, we embrace the new digital legal age with open arms. Our technology resources, business insights, and clear desire to put technology at the heart of our strategy are keys to our current and prospective accomplishment.

What are the earnings from your glorious journey of 20-years at Hammurabi & Solomon Partners, and how do you decide to take the firm a step further?

The journey from the start has been nothing less than surreal- highly motivating and gratified. It was in 2001 that Hammurabi & Solomon Partners got established and since then H&S has created a legacy of 20 years of excellence. We have made our mark in niche practice areas- Corporate and M&A, IBC, Dispute Management; Public Policy, Strategy & Regulatory; Real Estate & Infra, Environment & Pollution Control Laws; Technology, Media and Telecommunications.

In the initial stage of the firm’s development, we had to burn the midnight oil to reach where we are at now since we laid the foundation and started from scratch. Looking back, I only take the experience and good memories to the future where we would want to take the firm to a global audience.
We have been part of various large and intricate multi-jurisdictional transactions, projects, policy and regulatory initiatives, India strategies, as well as complex and high-profile litigation and arbitration matters.

In your opinion, what are the major hurdles that the law firms should prepare themselves for in the future?

The challenges vary with firm sizes and practices involved with them. The lessons from past downturns can help law firms respond to near-term challenges and set the right priorities for the long run. Law-firm leaders must prepare for a wide range of scenarios, the likelihood of which will depend on the effectiveness of both public-health- and economic-policy interventions.
It is natural to expect that litigation and restructuring practice areas will do well. However, the reality in detail is more nuanced. Currently, there are unprecedented near-term slowdowns in some court systems, moving forward, dispute and investigation practices indeed will be less correlated with the rest of the economy than transactional practices will be.

Furthermore, the relationship of a client with just one of the firm’s partner no longer suffices the need of the law firms. Strategies for making the client understand that behind the service they are receiving stands tall, a horizontal group of professionals including- partners and associates comprising of cross-functional teams exists.

What is the greatest strength of the firm? Rate your overall effectiveness as a Practice Group Leader.

We are a full-service law firm with a multidisciplinary focus on various areas of practice including but not limited to- Dispute Resolution, Litigation, Insolvency, Real Estate, M&A, Contracts, Public Policy & Regulatory Services, Indirect Tax, Anti-Trust and Competition Law and Data Protection. The Policy and Regulatory Practice of the firm is renowned not just domestically but internationally as well.

Policy development and good governance related to technology and digital space are at the nascent stage in India. Considering how the economy is moving globally and the numerous opportunities that India offers, there have been a large number of initiatives recently in the economic and judicial framework in the Country. I have been part of the drafting process of several crucial regulatory and policy documents including prominent legislations in topics relating to – media regulations, international arbitration, land acquisition bill etc.

How does Hammurabi & Solomon Partners effectively differentiate from the giants on the one hand, and boutiques and the low-cost service providers on the other?

As the protectionist barriers crumble in emerging markets around the world, giants are rushing in to find new growth opportunities. Globalisation has its pros and cons in every sector, we at Hammurabi & Solomon Partners want to focus more on research and development of the firm. The spectrum of success turns on meeting the demands of the clients. The business challenges of today are multi-dimensional and rarely does a standalone legal solution provides the complete solution. By understanding our client’s businesses and with the benefit of the firm’s vast knowledge and appreciation of the operating markets – we provide a calculated legal solution.

Our clients recognize the importance of our DNA – to work as trustees of their business. They come to our firm for our zealous advocacy, strategic, proactive, practical and consistent counsel on national & worldwide issues. We only fulfil their expectations to be well versed with all the important international legal developments, maintain international relationships and approach their portfolio with an eye towards business and resource realities. We do that now, and fully expect to continue to evolve our services with the marketplace and legal changes over the next years.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – What can we expect to see from Hammurabi & Solomon Partners in the future?

Globalisation is a two-faced coin providing – opportunities and challenges. The pandemic has been testing law firms’ adaptability and scalability. It is only fair that the clients demand a law firm with global outreach assisting them promptly across jurisdictions.

The business challenges of today are multi-dimensional and rarely does a standalone legal solution provides the complete solution. By understanding our client’s businesses and with the benefit of the firm’s knowledge and appreciation of the operating markets – we provide a calculated legal solution.

How much does Hammurabi & Solomon Partners respect diversity to shape the firm’s strategy?

Over the past two decades, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most progressive professionals. I must admit that in this period, my thought process and perspective have evolved immensely. We at the firm make sure that our work culture does not get tarnished with the concept of ‘unconscious bias’ which is a big evolution everyone experiences. The best way to serve the diverse client base today is to think through their lens by representing diversity in the workforce. Our firm’s senior partner is a woman and, a significant number of employees at the firm are women as well. To incorporate the diversity in our firm from the beginning, we follow the model of bias-free hiring to bring candidates from varying background for the main reason that employees are the most productive and innovative when they feel valued and included.

As we see some evolution in the industry, what would be the significant practice areas that are poised to expand shaping the legal industry?

We are experiencing a tremendous rate of growth, attracting exceptionally talented lawyers and high-quality work. While we continue to focus, grow, and invest in all our legal service lines, we see great potential in building out these practice areas with its adjacencies.

The dynamics of products and market has changed to technology and online, respectively. Policy development disputes management and transactions related to technology and digital space are going to increase.

Also, due to a recent shift in the economic conditions, we will witness more frequent triggering of recently introduced Bankruptcy & Insolvency Code. Another, area of practice will be Infrastructure as the present government has a robust plan and an equally fast pace to implement the same.

Also, due to the current economic situation, the demand for legal advisory on trust & estates. When faced with harsh realities, it is an essential topic for which many clients will be looking out for experience counsels to assist with rearranging and assist in long-term plans. We would also see mergers and acquisitions becoming a popular business strategy for companies looking to expand into new markets or territories, gain a competitive edge, or acquire new technologies. The practice area is not only influenced by the global eco-system but by microeconomic drivers as well. The firm has been assisting various clients in providing crucial legal, strategy and policy advice necessary in varied areas and with required access to key decision-makers from both parties.