ALMT Legal: A Coalition of Ardent Advocates

ALMT legal

A law firm is an association of lawyers that come together under one company to provide services. This is done due to the specialization they hold. Successful law firms provide exceptional client service, have positive word-of-mouth, are recognized in their community, embrace technology, and have a team with expertise consistent with their firms’ mission.

Moreover, these law firms don’t just achieve these markers of success and then stop. Instead, these establishments continue to innovate their services and processes, educate and up-skill themselves, and look for new and meaningful ways to provide the best possible experience to their clients. This is the crucial aspect that positions ALMT Legal as one of the leading corporate and commercial law firms in the legal industry.

In an interview with Insights Success, Aliff Fazelbhoy, Senior Partner, shares valuable facts highlighting ALMT Legal’s significance in the modern legal industry.

Aliff, please brief us about yourself and shed some light on your professional journey:

As a senior partner with ALMT Legal with more than three decades in the profession, I have an all-round practice. I head the Mumbai office’s employment law, M&A, private equity, and tax practice.

During my early career years, I concentrated mainly on litigation matters and got a good grip on how the legal system works, the strategies used in complex litigation, identifying key issues, examination, and cross-examination etc.

After I completed my LLM at Cambridge University, I worked in a city firm (then known as Wilde Sapte, which later merged with Dentons) in London for a few months. They then introduced me to Mr. Bijesh Thakker of Thakker & Thakker in Mumbai, where I joined in the year 1992 and thus moved from a litigation practice to becoming an M&A lawyer handling multimillion-dollar deals for large multinational clients.

I was also encouraged there to develop the firm’s tax practice, something which I successfully did. In 1996 I was one of the founding partners of ARA Law before I merged my practice and team with ALMT Legal in the year 2003. Next year will complete 20 years at ALMT.

What made you venture into the legal space?

I would call it destiny, in which I am a great believer.

Being an albino by birth, I have low vision being about 10-15 of normal sight. This was my biggest struggle in school as I could not read the blackboard and being white and rather skinny and small at the time, I had to face a lot of guy teasing. My grades throughout school and under graduation was nothing to write home about.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, I was set to join the family business. A friend of mine was also joining his own family business and mentioned to me casually that he would be enrolling for a law degree as that would help in the family business. I kind of tagged along, and the rest, they say, is history.

Joining the Government Law College (“GLC”) in 1985 was the first turning point in my life. At GLC, we only had morning lectures, and so simultaneously with studying law at GLC, I worked at a small law firm run by two brothers. My senior Munir Visram was my first and greatest mentor, who gave me so much self-belief and confidence in my abilities.

In my final year of LLB exams, I stood first in the entire Mumbai University and was awarded three gold medals. I followed that up with a first rank in the Solicitors exam getting top marks in all five subjects and earning a full scholarship to do my LLM at Cambridge University. That was the next important milestone in my journey towards becoming a successful lawyer with international practice.

Please enlighten our readers about ALMT Legal in detail.

ALMT Legal is a full-service Indian law firm with approximately 20 partner and a total of 80 lawyers across offices in strategic commercial centres like Mumbai and Bangalore.

ALMT Legal’s practice areas encompass all aspects of Indian law, from corporate and commercial to tax, employment, dispute resolution, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, real estate, intellectual property, technology, media and telecommunication law, shipping, and aviation and even immigration laws.

Several of our Partners and Associates have been consistently recognised by global legal publications like Asia law Profiles, Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, IFLR1000, India Business Law Journal, Asian Legal Business etc. Asialaw Profiles 2023 Edition recommends ALMT Legal for banking and finance, capital markets, construction, corporate and M&A, energy, infrastructure, dispute resolution, labour and employment, private equity, real estate, restructuring and insolvency, tax and media and entertainment.

Asia Pacific Legal 500 2022 Edition has recommended several of our partners and designated some as leading lawyers in various practice areas such as banking and finance, capital markets, corporate and M&A, data protection, dispute resolution, private equity and investment funds, labour and employment, real estate and construction, technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) and tax.

What kind of services do you provide to your clients? What are your USPs?

I have an all-round practice including M&A, private equity, employment law, tax and commercial disputes.  My biggest USP is my depth of knowledge in these four or five practice areas that all complement each other together, the practical approach that I bring to the table in solving complex issues and navigating through a minefield of laws and regulations. I am always available to a client wherever I may be, and clients do appreciate the personal attention I give to each matter, big or small.

My tax experience includes advising on cross-border tax structuring and issues such as the creation of permanent establishment, obligations about withholding tax, transfer pricing, characterization of software payments etc., as well as some indirect tax issues, particularly GST for various international and domestic clients.

My M&A and corporate practice is mainly focused on transactional work for domestic and international private equity funds and multinational companies.  We hand hold the clients through the entire process, right form the initial term sheet to legal, due diligence, drafting and negotiating the transaction documents, corporate and regulatory compliances, including foreign direct investment rules to exits and strategic sales.

Besides tax and M&A practice, I have helped develop a thriving employment law practice for the Firm and assist several multinational clients on a wide spectrum of employment law issues. In addition to structuring contracts, drafting employment policies and procedures for clients, including issues relating to sexual harassment and anti-sexual harassment policies, and advising on social security schemes, I have also advised on implementing terminations, both as a reduction in the workforce as well as termination for misconduct, the enforceability of post-termination obligations as well as dispute resolutions. We have also conducted training workshops in companies to effectively deal with sexual harassment complaints, anti-bribery, data privacy and workplace ethics.

My commercial disputes practice is focused on arbitrations and high-stakes litigation, mainly arising from shareholder disputes and breaches of commercial contracts.

I have been honored to have been consistently recognised by global legal publications like Legal 500, Asialaw Profiles and IFLR 1000 and Chambers & Partners for corporate/M&A, employment, private equity and tax practice, some of which are listed below

What kind of challenges have you faced while entering the legal space?

Initially, I always wanted to be a litigator and argue my own cases, but that was the first challenge when I realised that I would not be able to do full justice to this due to my low vision. The next key decision was to move from being a litigator to becoming an M&A lawyer and making the most of the opportunity granted to me by Wilde Sapte and Thakker & Thakker.

Working with global clients such as Goldman Sachs, Visa, and others gave me the confidence to leave a secure job and take the risk of starting my law firm ARA Law with two other partners in the year 1996. This was my second big challenge to grow the firm which we did successfully during the next few years, including setting up an office in Bangalore. Many larger firms approached us for a merger. Eventually, in 2003, I decided to merge my team and practice with the entire team at Bangalore with ALMT Legal, which was also a young and upcoming firm.

Being responsible for running a successful practice is full of challenges right form getting clients, servicing them and keeping them happy to retain good people and motivating them to perform to the highest standards. Challenge is what brings out the best in our team; we thrive on overcoming all kinds of challenges.

What is the technological impact on the legal industry, and how you, as an individual and as a firm are, adapting to it?

Huge, and we are dealing with this seamlessly and well. One would never have dreamed a few years ago that work from home would be doable, and now with the technology boom, it is much easier to manage time and expectations, access databases, get on to virtual meetings and generally discharge tasks much quicker. One challenge is privacy and confidentiality, and we must ensure that we have proper security checks and balances.

What would you like to advise the young generation of legal enthusiasts?

The legal industry is dynamic and ever evolving. First and foremost, you need to be passionate and enjoy law. The industry is more competitive than what it used to be, so you need to put in a lot of hard work and, make your mark, find your own USP. Keep learning and growing your skills; that’s the most important thing.

Where do you envision your firm to be in the long run, and what are your future goals?

To be recognized as a top 10 firm in India by the end of this decade.

Exhibiting Excellence

Listed among the “Top 100 Private Practice Lawyers in India” by India Business Law Journal in 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Featured in Asian Legal Business magazine’s ‘A-List of India’s Super 50 Lawyers in 2020’.

Recognised by Asia Law Profiles 2023 Edition as ‘Distinguished Practitioner’ for Corporate M&A and Labour and Employment.

Featured in the prestigious Forbes India Legal Powerlist 2020 (Individual Lawyer) for Labour and Employment.

Featured by Asia Pacific Legal 500 2022 Edition in ‘Hall of Fame’ for Tax practice and as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ for Labour and Employment and also recommended for his Corporate M&A practice.

‘Highly Recommended’ by 2021 Global Law Experts Handbook for Corporate Tax Law.

Awarded ‘International M&A Lawyer of the Year in India – 2021’ by 2021 Corporate Intl Magazine Global Award

Recognised by IFLR 1000 32nd Edition as ‘Highly Regarded Lawyer’ for M&A and Private Equity.

Recognized as Employment Lawyer of the Year in India – 2019 by Global Law Experts Annual Awards.

Ranked by Legal Era 2022 rankings as ‘Leading Lawyer Champion’ for Banking and Finance, labor and Employment and Tax.

Corporate Intl Magazine has named ALMT Legal the ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year (India) 2021’ and the ‘Cross Border Tax Law Firm of the Year (India) 2021’. M&A Today Global Award 2022 and 2021 has awarded ALMT Legal for Employment law and Tax in India.

Global Law Experts Awards has awarded ALMT Legal as ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year in India’ and ‘Cross Border Tax Law Firm of the Year in India’ in 2022, 2021 and 2020. Asian Legal Business 2021 and 2020 has recognized ALMT Legal for M&A and Intellectual Property (Patents).

2020 International Advisory Experts Award has awarded ALMT Legal as the winner of the ‘Employment Law Award – India’. Legal 100 Asia 2022 Awards has awarded ALMT Legal as ‘Law Firm of the Year Employment – India’. Lawyer International Legal 100 Awards 2020 has awarded ALMT Legal for Tax.

India Business Law Journal Award 2022, 2020 and 2019 has awarded ALMT Legal award-winning law firm India for ‘Labor and Employment and ‘Shipping and Maritime’ and ‘Aviation’. Lawyer Network Annual Awards has awarded ALMT Legal – ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year in India – 2021’ and Cross Border Tax Law Firm of the Year in India – 2022’.

Global 100 has awarded ALMT Legal ‘Employment – Law Firm of the Year in India’ in 2022. Pan Finance Award has awarded ALMT Legal as the 2022 winner – Law Firm of the Year for Banking & Finance.

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