Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM) recently announced the addition of four new members to its Management Board in a bid to introduce fresh leadership at the board level..Raghubir Menon, Prashant Gupta, Naval Satarawala Chopra, and Shweta Shroff Chopra will join Executive Chairman Shardul Shroff, Managing Partners Pallavi Shroff, and Akshay Chudasama, and Partners Jatin Aneja and Gunjan Shah as part of the board..Bar & Bench's Pallavi Saluja spoke to Joint Managing Partner Pallavi Shroff on the new Management Board, the firm's succession plan and major challenges the firm faces..Pallavi Saluja: The firm has expanded its Management Board with the addition of four lawyers. What was the thought process behind this expansion?.Pallavi Shroff: The thought process is to plan for the future - how we envisage the firm will be run and what we want for our future. Every firm has to plan for its future.Our philosophy right from the day we set up SAM is that it is not going to be just a Shroff family enterprise; it is going to be jointly managed with the best professionals. It started with Akshay Chudasama and I being the Joint Managing Partners and we run the firm together. There’s nothing that he does that I don't know, and vice-versa. Between us, we build consensus within the firm by talking every day.Together, I think we have done well. The firm has grown in all directions, in every manner. With the hard work of all our partners, we’ve grown significantly and are working on some of the best matters.But, as with any business, one has to recalibrate the strategy every 5-7 years, because whatever gets you here, doesn’t get you further. The landscape changes, the market changes, and peoples’ aspirations change. To be on top and to remain on top, one needs to recalibrate and determine where you are, where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you will go there. We thought this was the right time..... one has to recalibrate the strategy every 5-7 years, because whatever gets you here, doesn’t get you further.Pallavi Shroff.Pallavi Saluja: Did you have a number of lawyers in mind in terms of how big the management board should be?.Pallavi Shroff: From the day we started SAM, non-family members have been in the majority on the Management Board. We have continued that philosophy because as a family, we play the role of entrepreneurs. We also don’t want a very unwieldy Management Board and therefore, we thought 9 (members) was a good size..Pallavi Saluja: Is this move part of the firm's succession plan?.Pallavi Shroff: Indeed, we are looking into the future. As I said, you cannot stay stagnant and you must evolve. This step is part of the next generation of partners coming into the management, alongside the next generation of the family.We have to now work to groom our new board to take the firm forward. We have to work with them by helping them to build consensus, be inclusive, and take people along to realise our vision, together. The new board members will learn the art of management, balancing the trade-offs, navigating the difficult decisions, through robust discussions and analysis at the management level. We always try to build consensus, because that’s always the better way of working..Pallavi Saluja: Are we going to see the firm open up its equity even more to non-family members?.Pallavi Shroff: We’ve never had a restriction. The firm has been growing every year with new equity partners. Whoever makes the cut, will be invited to join the equity partnership..Pallavi Saluja: What is the primary role of the management board?.Pallavi Shroff: The Management Board focuses on strategy, policy, direction of the firm and reviews the implementation of our goals and vision. Day-to-day management is handled by Akshay and me. Beyond that, strategic level decisions, budget analysis, performance etc - all that is reviewed by the Management Board. We do the same thing as any typical company board does.There are so many strategic decisions that need to be taken as we grow - in which direction we want the firm to grow, what practices we want to grow, how are we going to achieve that - these decisions are taken by the Management Board. It is the ultimate decision-making body in the firm.....We do the same thing as any typical company board does...Pallavi Shroff.Pallavi Saluja: Do family members on the board have veto powers when it comes to decision-making?.Pallavi Shroff: The family has a veto on only very few fundamental items like change of name, but not otherwise..Pallavi Saluja: What are the major challenges big law firms like yours are facing today?.Pallavi Shroff: War for talent is certainly one of our top challenges. Winning good people, retaining them, making them grow. There’s a lot of focus on getting and retaining the right talent. Making them grow is very important to our continued success. Money is one part, but ensuring good work with proper support is equally important. When you see you are working on good matters, it also helps and motivates people. We have a huge learning & development (L&D) program, so I think that is a big plus for us.Secondly, adoption of technology. Without technology, today you can’t grow anywhere. That is one focus that we’ve maintained in the last 3-4 years. We have a long way to go since new technology is always coming up, including generative AI - we are keenly observing and experimenting with how it is developing. We are not against it, but I want to be a little careful before we adopt it as there are so many issues on client confidentiality etc. We have a full in-house team with a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who looks after all these things. With the kind of client confidential data we have, we are very careful and have invested in robust IT systems.Finally, in terms of pricing, a lot of firms in recent times seem to believe the way to compete is a race to the bottom. Nobody in the Management Board, including me, believes in that approach as those are short-term and not long-term perspectives. We have to be able to reinvest in the firm regularly, otherwise we cannot grow..Pallavi Saluja: Attrition continues to plague both big and smaller law firms. Are there any new strategies SAM has developed to reduce the same?.Pallavi Shroff: We are focusing on getting the right people, with the right attitude and the right values. We also believe that creating the right atmosphere within the firm is more important than just money. Money works up to a point, you can throw a lot of money and get people, but ultimately, if the work culture doesn’t match up, it cannot last..Pallavi Saluja: How does a firm like SAM prepare for the imminent liberalisation of the Indian legal market?.Pallavi Shroff: We are keeping a constant watch on the market to see what’s going to happen. Being a national full-service firm, we have our own advantages. We will do everything necessary to remain competitive. Our approach is: we will remain agile, compete fiercely, and do everything that is required to be done. We will continue to improve our systems, adopt best practices and technologies, and invest in our people, so as to remain competitive.Above all, we are committed to keeping our integrity and ethics strong, as that is what has been a very important part of our success story.