Nishith Desai Associates: A Trust-Based Democratic Nano Firm

Nishith Desai,Founder & Managing Partner.

Nishith Desai

Founder & Managing Partner.

1985 was not a golden era for fresh law graduates, since the law firms were extremely hierarchical where the power was utterly concentrated on the top.That is when Nishith Desai, a reputed international tax lawyer, rebelled against this system and established Nishith Desai Associates (NDA) in 1990 after meticulously researching hundreds of professional service firm models worldwide. With the desire to create a better world, Nishith built an empowered and transparent organization, which endowed people with the freedom to think, to do and earn. Vesting keen importance on domain expertise, he hired diverse people like software engineers, chartered accountants and medical surgeons with strong qualifications, and made them study law.

While being sustainable and new-age, this trust-based democratic firm delivered premium complex transactions and litigations based on strong research foundation and continual education. By building tremendous value,nd handles greatly complicated matters, which others typically can't find easy solutions to. Having laid a strong foundation, unsurprisingly, NDA cemented its name as a thought leader in the early 90s with its path breaking work in the Mauritius treaty. Ever since, the company has been under going an aggressive journey with 25 percent growth annually; especially the past ten years have been a roller coaster ride for NDA.

In an epoch that denized in the philosophy - 'more people, more bill', NDA coined the term 'nano' firm with the aim of being the best rather than being the largest. This 125 people strong firm thinks big and scales through other value added attributes such as technology, innovation, research and thought leadership to bring forth a far better strategic advice.

The Global Exposure

NDA has forged a stellar reputation for rescuing clients from real crisis and reducing their reputational risk, tremendous credit to its in-depth cross-functional expertise and research skills that gives the company a head start into futuristic areas of law. The firm stands out in sharp contrast with its expertise in proffering an integrated strategic advice across legal, tax and regulatory matters with international perspective. Since more than 70 percent of its clientele are from
abroad, NDA advices heavily on cross-border law by leveraging its 'anticipate-prepare-deliver' model to dive deep into diverse legal aspects & jurisdictions. This India-centric global law firm has established its offices across Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Singapore, Silicon Valley, Munich and New York not just for business expansion but also to ensure seamless delivery by understanding client's problems. Furthermore, NDA allows its people to travel globally to ascertain that they truly understand the legal policies across different jurisdictions, which in turn enables the firm to maintain the highest credibility and impact.

Firmly believing in grooming its people internally, NDA mostly hires freshers with leadership inclination, strong credentials, research abilities and enthusiasm to write articles

Continuous Skill Development

As opposed to other law firms that provide merely on-job training, NDA invests 10 percent of every lawyer's time on education everyday, which makes it a great poaching ground. "Though our people are much in demand and have choices, they choose to stay with the firm. In fact, we have very tenured professionals who have stayed with the firm for over two decade. This is mainly dueto the highest quality of work they get across different practice areas and roles, without restriction. 70 percent of every lawyer's time is spent on core practice area, 20 percent on another areas related to their core and 10 percent on a completely different area of expertise," explains Nanda Majumdar, Director - Intellectual Capital & Practice Development, NDA.

Attraction & Retention of High Calibre Resources

NDA ensures the selection of high-calibre candidates for interview through a complete, original & state-of-the-art automated online talent acquisition system, whereby it selects applicants by drawing a lot of insights about them with great rigor. The extremely choosy company recruits people with immense intellectual capability with the desire to make a bigger impact in the world, beyond just legal expertise. Firmly believing in grooming its people internally, NDA mostly hires freshers with leadership inclination, strong credentials, research abilities and enthusiasm to write articles through a stringent internship process, as well as from U.S. job fairs.

Despite the fact that its firm members are not in retainer-ship model (which allows them to take home higher income along with
performance-based bonus), NDA gives them usual benefits akin to house rent and medical allowances, among others. Though there are strong formal processes, this employee-friendly firm has always given abundant flexibilities to individuals depending on their needs. For instance, female employees are allowed to work from home and on limited hours, even post maternity break.

Culture of Happiness

Keen on cultivating a culture of happiness, the company creates bond amongst team mates with frequent outings, occasional team dinners, annual retreat and celebration of milestones & landmark days. NDA lifts the spirits of its people with several small touches like impromptu celebrations and recognitions. This family- centric organisation also bestows its people with plentiful space for mixing personal and professional equations. As its people come from diverse cities and backgrounds, NDA helps them to settle down in personal as well as work space and also supports their families with good will and advice. "Our people, research, continuing education, firm model and organization behaviour, our strategic positioning and approach to new practice/process creation, last but not least, to client value addition - every aspect of how we think, do, and work - has culminated in this cesspool of bold ideas, spirit, and where withal that makes innovation our DNA," concludes Nishith Desai, Founder & Managing Partner, NDA.

Key Management:
Nishith Desai, Founder & Managing Partner

Nishith Desai is the Founder & Managing Director of the multi-skilled, research-based international law firm, Nishith Desai Associates ( He is an international tax and corporate law expert, researcher, published author and lecturer in leading academic institutions around the world.

Nanda Majumdar, Director - Intellectual Capital & Practice Development

Having held broad and diverse leadership roles in HR strategy and development, management consulting, and business journalism for more than 20 years, Nanda currently leads a strategic, transformational and cross-disciplinary assignment at NDA.

Offices:Mumbai (Headquarter, Bengaluru & New Delhi,India. Singapore, Munich, New York & Silicon Valley.

Offerings:International Tax, PE, VC Funds, M&A, Corporate, Securities, Capital Markets, Intellectual Property, Dispute Resolution, Financial services and many others.