Published 16 July 2019

India's data bar

The legal market in India is in many ways representative of its wider economy. The country only opened itself up to foreign investment in 1991, so some industries and regulations maintain a vaguely protectionist flavour. That’s true in the law, too: international firms are not allowed to operate in the country, meaning a few large domestic corporate law firms have come to dominate the scene. On the data front, many practices have long focused on outsourcing-related work.

Data protection in India is a new area; the current rules were put in place in 2011 and consist only of eight sections within the Information Technology Act. With a few notable exceptions, those that do work in the area have not been doing so for long. The depth of expertise in the data protection and privacy space, onlookers say, is sometimes lacking. There are a few standout names who lead the pack and have been in the space for some time, but these privacy specialists are not as common as in other jurisdictions. With the GDPR-style Personal Data Protection Bill set to pass through India’s parliament soon, observers expect a spike in demand for data privacy advice.

Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas

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Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas is one of the largest and best-known firms in India.

Nishith Desai

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Nishith Desai is a relatively large firm with four offices in India and another four abroad.

J Sagar Associates, now more commonly known just as JSA, is a large full-service firm.


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Samuel Mani, one of three founding partners at boutique firm Mani Chengappa Mathur (known as MCM Law), is known by rivals as having a particularly commercial approach.

Kochhar & Co

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Another big player in the data protection space in India is Stephen Mathias, head of Kochhar’s Bangalore office and the firm’s technology practice – which spends nearly half its time on privacy and data protection work.


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Trilegal partner Rahul Matthan, based in Bangalore, is widely acknowledged as one of a few Indian data protection leaders.

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