Legally India talks to Founding Partners Samuel Mani, Uttam Chengappa and Neil Mathur about setting up of our new Technology Focused Law Firm MCM.

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Infosys GC Samuel Mani and two legal heads start in-house superfirm | Rohidekar returns, may head Infosys legal.

Exclusive: Infosys legal head Samuel Mani and senior Infosys legal heads Utham Chengappa and Neil Mathur have quit to start a technology-focused law firm together.

Infosys, meanwhile, is understood to be finalising the appointment of new legal heads as former in-houser Gautam Rohidekar has returned to the company.

The new firm called Mani Chengappa & Mathur (MCM) is operating from an office in Bangalore’s Koramangala area and is owned jointly by the three NLSIU alumni – 1998, 1999 and 2001 batches respectively – who have each spent between eight and 12 years in-house at companies.

Mani, who began his career at Reliance in 2000 and joined Infosys in 2002, was the most senior in-house lawyer at Infosys when he resigned two months ago as the Indian technology giant’s head of legal.

Until mid-July his co-founder Mathur was head legal of Infosys BPO – the company’s outsourcing subsidiary – having joined from Dua Associates in 2004.

Chengappa, who had been with Infosys since 2003, was principal legal counsel when he resigned at the end of July, handling general legal work and contracts, employment law and trademarks.

“We believe the capabilities we have to be very relevant in the market,” said Mani. “When we looked at what is in the market and what is available, as buyers of legal services in the technology market itself, there is a lot of skill available but not quite at the level required from buyers.”

Companies’ in most sectors had a “technology thread” these days, said Mani, including brick-and-mortar companies that have customer-facing websites, or have to deal with the privacy implications of storing data about third parties, or having outsourced part of their work.

But Mani told Legally India that he and his co-partners’ new firm would also provide full service capability, which would include advising on core commercial legal services including employment law advice, and the ability to service corporate and M&A transactions.

“Obviously we have a full service capability because we did do M&A and we did do corporate structures [at Infosys]. We will act for both investors and companies in this space.”

Mani conceded that he and his co-founders did not have experience in generating fee-earning work, but said he was confident in their “delivery capabilities” if clients were willing to take a chance. “It’s a decision the three of us talked through very carefully so we believe that if you’re in it for the long term you’ve got to do it the hard way: conversations and discussion [with potential clients at all levels].”

“Sam was a great contributor to Infosys over the last 10 years that he was with the organisation,” commented Infosys global public relations leader Sukayna Ghosh. “He has now moved on to open his own law firm and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Former Infosys legal head Gautam Rohidekar returned to the company last month after four years as VP Legal at mobile payments provider Obopay. An NLSIU 1998-batch classmate of Mani’s, he has taken on the position of associate vice president (AVP) and deputy head of legal at Infosys.

According to several market sources he is in the running to take over Mani’s old role, although no formal appointment has been made yet. The responsibilities of several other in-house lawyers may change to fill the gaps left by the departures. Rohidekar declined to comment, and Ghosh declined to confirm who would replace Mani as legal head, citing company policy to only comment on board member appointments.