Building the Largest Law Firm in India

Question: How did you build your law firm?

Cyril Shroff: Well, I think the history of from goes back a long time, we are more than 90 years in existence and right till the early 90s, we are essentially a boutique shop we specialize in a few areas including financial services. We are very well reputed but and more punching way above our weight but we were small in terms of the size of the operation.

The main growth has occurred in the last 15 years. That’s been driven primarily by I think three factors. First and foremost the market group. The Indian economy really started globalizing and getting more liberal from the early 90s after the policies that the government pursued so that gave us firstly that large amount of transactional work on the basis of which you could build a large corporate firm. So the market opened up.

The second important factor was the availability of high quality employable law graduates from universities that were being set up using a slightly different model. The national law schools, which you have sort of based on management institutions, they changed the format in terms of legal education, so the availability of high quality law graduates allowed us to recruit and fuel this expansion

And the third factor, which is sort of more personal to us was a more entrepreneurial, more western oriented management culture. Our law firm is structured very similar to many western organizations. We have formal career tracks, practice groups, and we’ve tried to use best practice in terms of structuring our organization more institutionally.  

Question: What kind of leader are you?

Cyril Shroff: I think I inspire trust and a lot of the young generation has believe in the vision that I have spelled out for them. I have been very open in terms of communicating what my vision for the firm as well as the vision for the Indian legal industry has been, a firm believer that India’s independent law firm sector has got enormous potential and there are a lot who believe in that vision and follow me.

Question: What challenges do global law firms face?

Cyril Shroff: I see basically two models of law firms in the world. One of the global law firm they go by the name of one-stop shops, which will open an office, everybody see and opportunity and will also practice the local law of that jurisdiction.

That’s a successful model as well but that’s not the only model. And the other model is those of independent law firms, national champions like ourselves which have some unique strengths as well and I think both have their strengths and weaknesses. For practicing a cutting edge work in a jurisdiction I think the latter model is infinitely superior because you have the best lawyers and the best expertise that is available. 

We are seeing also the impact of the financial crisis for instance on the former model. The former model is driven largely by following financial sector clientele across the world and when the financial sector itself, the leading global banks, and investment banks they themselves come under pressure. The natural impact on this law firms is also where they feel the pain with them as well and like the banks themselves are shrinking so are the law firms.  Whereas firms like ours and in different other jurisdictions they somewhat more insulated.                       

Question: Should foreign investors worry about intellectual property rights in India?

Cyril Shroff: There will always be some amount of nervousness not because we do not substantially recognize those rights but enforcement can be somewhat slow and patchy but for a diligent American corporation which is willing to pursue its intellectual property rights and protect them, India will still deliver the end product and a number of corporations have experienced that, for instance companies like some of the leading technology players in the world--I don’t want to name them--or even drug manufacturers, they’ve had eventually, they have been able to achieve justice. 

Recorded on: April 29, 2009

Cyril Shroff describes his firm’s success and his own leadership.

China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

The science of sex, love, attraction, and obsession

The symbol for love is the heart, but the brain may be more accurate.

  • How love makes us feel can only be defined on an individual basis, but what it does to the body, specifically the brain, is now less abstract thanks to science.
  • One of the problems with early-stage attraction, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, is that it activates parts of the brain that are linked to drive, craving, obsession, and motivation, while other regions that deal with decision-making shut down.
  • Dr. Fisher, professor Ted Fischer, and psychiatrist Gail Saltz explain the different types of love, explore the neuroscience of love and attraction, and share tips for sustaining relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial.

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
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There never was a male fertility crisis

A new study suggests that reports of the impending infertility of the human male are greatly exaggerated.

Sex & Relationships
  • A new review of a famous study on declining sperm counts finds several flaws.
  • The old report makes unfounded assumptions, has faulty data, and tends toward panic.
  • The new report does not rule out that sperm counts are going down, only that this could be quite normal.
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