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Serving the society should be an integral part of one’s life. While staying focused is important, the ‘Can Do’ psyche will help attain success is what Nishith Desai has to say to future lawyers

A lawyer with many distinctions, Cyril S. Shroff exudes warmth and confidence. As the managing partner of the erstwhile Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co. (ranked amongst the top law firms in the country and in Asia Pacific), Shroff had been consistently ranked as India’s top corporate, banking and project finance lawyer by several international surveys including those conducted by international Financial Law Review (IFLR), Euromoney, Chambers Global, Asia Legal 500, Asia Law and others. He has over 32 years of experience in many legal areas including corporate laws, securities markets, banking, and infrastructure. Shroff is now the managing partner of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, founded on 11 May 2015 in Mumbai. He was recently adjudged the Best Managing Partner in India at the ALB South East Asia Awarded 2015.

Employing almost 600 lawyers in Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Shroff has been instrumental in radically modernizing the concept of law firm management in India. “We were the first firm in the country to go for campus recruitment. It was an unheard of concept way back when liberation happened of concept way back when liberation happed in 1991. We changed the intellectual foundations from the roots. Earlier young law graduates would pay the firm for their internship but we employed them at market salaries. The average age in the firm is now 27 and we work all the time on 24×7 basis, we practice modern management and use technology extensively,” smiles Shroff for whom the firm’s success is akin to his personal success. In the firm’s new avatar of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Shroff proudly calls it a “97 year old startup,” reflecting both the legacy of the past and the dynamism of a fresh start. Shroff wears his legacy and history on his sleeve. This is also reflected in the fact that both his house. ‘Roopam,’ at Worli, and the firm’s first office at Lentin Chambers, are close to his heart and are symbols of his ancestors.

Not one to rest on his lauerls, Shroff credits his achievements to his family values and especially to his wife and ‘soulmate’, Vandana Shroff. “The USP lies in my partnership with Vandana in all areas. For the last 28 years, we have been working off the same desk. She is my inspiration and true effectiveness comes from our teamwork. For us 2+2 does not equal 4, but becomes 22. It is not only a combination of emotional energy but also entrepreneurial energy.”

How did this begin? “I was the first lawyer Vandana met and she joined the Government Law College in Mumbai after marriage,” Shroff says contentedly. “Initially, after our marriage, the office space was much smaller, so we used to work off the same table and then this became my strength.” The couple have divided their responsibilities well and balanced work and home in a beautiful manner. “The art of balancing home and work has come from my lawyer parents, as my late father, Suresh A. Shroff, and mother, Bharati, also worked out of the same cabin. My father is my intellectual guru. He taught me everything, and his blessings and affection made me a very secure individual.”

The Shroff family is a legion of lawyers. For the first decade of his career, Shroff addressed litigation and commercial law, but as liberalization happened in early 1991, he turned to JVs, finance, power projects and more. Then the work of radically modernising the firm, keeping in mind global access, began. In the firm the couple is popularly known as the ‘CSVS team’ and “it works well as no one can play one against the other”, laughs Shroff.

As it was initially a family firm, the changes were easier to make, he elucidates. The value of working together in harmony has been passed to the children, Rishabh and Paridhi, who are lawyers too. On the children’s weddings, Cyril wrote letters to the two explaining the rituals and meaning of marriage. He stressed upon three things: true mutual respect, perfect communication and emotional simplicity. “We have been blessed with a good and emotionally secure world around us in terms of work and home and we wish to pass the same to our children,” elucidates Vandana.

Not many know that the lawyer is also an amateur artist. His sketches in charcoal ended up as a coffee table book explaining the rituals of a Hindu wedding for his son Rishabh’s wedding with Saloni (from the Surana family of jewelers from Jaipur) in November 2011. “It took us almost 2-3 months to do this. Vandana and I researched and wrote it all out and the coffee table book went with the wedding invitations. For Paridhi’s wedding, it was sketches and letter,” reminisces Shroff. Now the sketches are a thing of joy gracing the office walls.

It’s not Shroff alone who love art; Vandana likes to mentor young artist. The office and home are an art connoisseur’s delight. The walls are graced by the works of masters such as Husain, Raza, Satish Gupta and Satish Gujral and even sculptures by young creators. “I like to promote talent and if all of us keep buying only the masters, how will new talent find space,” explains Vandana.

Law is not the only common family passion; Hindi films are the entertainment bond. “We normally end up going for most movies on the first day, first night show,” claim the Shroff family.

Paridhi, married to Karan Adani (son of Gujarat industrialist, Gautam Adani, founder of the Adani Group), is a entrant to the family firm. “Law is something I have lived and breathed, so it comes naturally to me,” she says. “But more than the subject, the partnership of my parents as a working couple has inspired me a lot.”

Rishabh has been involved in the family firm for few years and has found a mentor in his father. “During my childhood, he would always guide me as a father, now he mentors me as a professional. Recently I have been helping my father in preparing for seminars and presentations, and public interactions is an areas that I am now walking into with him.” Inspired by the passion for law in the family, his wife, Saloni, also joined law college and is now an associate in the firm, working in the college and is now an associates in the firm, working in the corporate and litigation teams.

The Shroffs also enjoy travel and annual holidays and festival celebrations. “As children we would enjoy annual holidays in December,” says Paridhi. “Diwali is the time when the entire family comes together.”

“At heart we have a deeply philosophical approach and Vandana and I live by the song ‘Que Sera Sera.’ We have a core group of friend and we are very private individuals and do not like to show off. I am even in touch with my friends from school, the Bombay Scottish. We like people who are dedicated to their work and stick to long-term relationship,” tells Shroff. He regards amongst his closest friends, Uday Kotak, Chairman of the Kotak Group, and famous criminal lawyer, Amit Desai.

Tradition is the mainstay of the family. “Social philanthropy is not something we like to flaunt. It is a value which could be anything – writing a cheque or mentoring young artists,” says Vandana on the values by which the Shroffs live.

Shroff was admitted to the Bar in 1982 after receiving his B.A. and LL.B. degrees from the Government Law College in Mumbai. He has been a solicitor at the Bombay High Court since 1983. If law was not there…“On a light-hearted note, I could have been anything but on serious note, I could have been a anything else. My father was a second-generation lawyer, and both, my brother and I, were always fascinated by the discussions or the clients coming in. my father commanded tremendous respect and recognition, so it was the most natural profession to walk into. The lowest point in my life has been his passing away in 1994.”

Shroff has been closely involved in some of India’s largest and pioneering transactions in the corporate sphere including the first GDR issue, the first Project finance transaction and many of the largest and most complex M&A deals. India Inc. regularly seeks his advice on a range of issues. Shroff has authored several publications on legal topics. He is a visiting lecturer of Securities Law at the Government Law College. He is a member of the advisory board of the Centre on Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry established by the Harvard Law School, and a member of the advisory board of the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM).

Cyrill Shroff was a member of the executive council of the legal practice division (LPD) of the International Bar Association (IBA) and the advisory board of the Asia-Pacific forum of the IBA. He is a member of the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) international advisory board. He is also part of various committees of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Giving the firm a unique, structured goal and growth, Cyril Shroff is always on the go to create more milestones and to leave a mark in the history of the Indian Legal profession and Corporate Law.

We acknowledge “100 Legal Luminaries of India” by Lalit Bhasin (Lexis). The multicolour coffee table book printed on art paper in Hardbound is priced at ` 5995/- and is available at Universal Book Traders, C-27, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001.

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