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Steptoe & Johnson LLP is an international law firm with more than 500 attorneys and other professionals in ten offices worldwide, including Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

The firm’s relationship with India dates back nearly six decades, to the service of the firm’s cofounder, Colonel Louis Johnson, as President Roosevelt’s Personal Representative to India. Holding the rank of Minister, Colonel Johnson worked with leading Indian statesmen, including Prime Minister Nehru, in helping advance India's economic and other interests at important stages in its early development. Steptoe attorneys have built on this great legacy and developed a vibrant India practice that assists both foreign companies participating in the Indian marketplace and Indian companies expanding their businesses abroad.

Our India practice is led by Ambassador Susan Esserman who has held several senior positions in the US government, including her service as Deputy US Trade Representative. While in government, Ambassador Esserman negotiated several trade agreements with the Government of India and sought to elevate and expand US-India economic and bilateral trade relationships.  She remains active in promoting US-India ties as a Board Member of the US-India Business Council and through her law practice. Steptoe’s India practice includes leading attorneys from the firm’s pre-eminent international trade, securities, regulatory, antitrust, tax, telecommunications, technology, intellectual property, legislative and crisis management practices.

Steptoe provides insights borne of experience in working with high-level Indian government officials and leading Indian corporate executives, as well as in addressing and resolving their most complex and sensitive matters.  Steptoe lawyers, for example, have worked on the most significant US-India and EU-India trade issues over the last decade.  As might be expected, the firm also has well-established relationships with leading Indian lawyers and consultants.

Steptoe’s breadth, depth, and dedication to client service has made us the law firm of choice for many leading US, EU, and Indian companies, financial institutions, and investors as they work to address the diverse legal and business challenges they face.

Steptoe’s practice areas on India matters include:

International Trade and Regulatory

Our attorneys’ work in this broad field includes international trade litigation and policy (e.g., anti-dumping, anti-subsidy; safeguards; and WTO); export controls, sanctions, and US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Steptoe’s international practice is top-ranked in the United States by the leading legal publication, Chambers USA.  For four years running, Chambers Asia has recognized Steptoe as the market leader for its work in Asia.

Representative Matters

  • Represent the 300-member US-India Business Council on a broad-based trade and investment initiative with India.
  • Broad-ranging representations of Indian companies in connection with REACH and regulatory compliance and strategy for participation in the EU market. 
  • Defend several US agricultural industries against safeguard investigations in India.
  • Represent US manufacturing companies in addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers in India.
  • Represent the European spirits industry in its WTO challenge concerning imposition of illegal Indian customs duties.
  • Defend Indian companies in various anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations around the globe and in particular the EU, the US, and Turkey.
  • Represent Indian companies in a variety of US-India trade policy matters, including relating to GSP.
  • Advise Indian companies in connection with the US government review of acquisitions under CFIUS.
  • Conduct several internal investigations involving corruption and money laundering issues in India, involving telecommunications, agriculture, financial services, and other industries.

International Dispute Resolution

The firm has extensive experience in a wide variety of commercial, corporate, technology, energy, trade and investment disputes, through litigation, arbitration and ADR.  We provide advice on a full range of dispute resolution issues that arise in transactions from negotiating and drafting dispute resolution clauses to enforcing or challenging arbitral awards in different countries.

Representative Matters

  • Advise a major US company in connection with its civil and criminal litigation in India.
  • Represent the Indian Licensee of an international clothing manufacturer in dispute with local shareholders, entailing three parallel proceedings in India and related proceedings in England.
  • Represent an Indian telecommunications company in ICC arbitration arising from dispute with a leading US telecommunications provider.
  • Represent an Asian conglomerate in connection with ICC arbitration claims under a joint venture agreement with a major US media corporation concerning ownership of India's largest advertising agency.
  • Defend an Indian party served with a worldwide freezing order issued by the Commercial Court in London.

Technology and Intellectual Property

Steptoe focuses on the evolving areas of Internet/electronic commerce, telecommunications, intellectual property, outsourcing, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and biotechnology, and offers significant US and EU regulatory and transactional capabilities.

Representative Matters

  • Counsel US and EU pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations on intellectual property and regulatory policy developments in India.
  • Advise a number of leading global investment banks on the development of their telecommunications and IT infrastructure in India.
  • Counsel a global Internet-based retailer on regulatory issues relating to its Indian website.
  • Advise a major Indian telecommunications company with respect to establishing and maintaining operations in the United States, Canada and the UK.
  • Advise an Indian telecommunications company on US and EU competition issues pertaining to international telecommunications traffic.
  • Assist an Indian telecommunications company in seeking patent protection in the United States, and in negotiating a technology license from a US company.

Corporate and Tax

We provide representation and counsel to companies, financial institutions, private equity funds, and investors on domestic and international tax issues, venture capital and leveraged buyouts, investment fund formation, private and public acquisitions and divestitures, equity and debt capital markets matters (including AIM listings), and bank lending transactions.

Steptoe's international tax lawyers combine extraordinary experience with extraordinary responsiveness. They counsel, structure, negotiate, document, implement, advocate, and litigate, identifying opportunities and solving problems ranging from the straightforward to the complex, from relatively small dollar-value issues for one company to multi-billion dollar industry-wide matters. In addition, Steptoe's lawyers have facilitated a number of Competent Authority proceedings -- generally government-to-government negotiations with respect to particular taxpayers or industries.

Representative Matters

  • Represent Indian company in connection with an acquisition of assets and related agreements in the development of an industrial facility.
  • Advise US investors in connection with participation in investments funds focusing on India.
  • Advise US companies on foreign investment rules in India.
  • Counsel an international retailer on a joint venture and licensing arrangements with a major Indian media group to set up a lifestyle fashion business in India.
  • Represent India’s largest luggage company in the acquisition of certain assets of a major international luggage brand.
  • Advise Indian telecommunications companies with respect to US, Indian, and UK operations and US federal and state taxation.
  • Advise US companies on corporate and tax issues in connection with outsourcing to India.

Corporate Governance, Crisis Management, and Internal Investigations

We also regularly provide advice on a host of governance and other corporate matters, routine and otherwise. Steptoe lawyers have represented and advised clients in India and all over world, helping investigate and address their most sensitive governance and regulatory matters.  The firm has represented corporate and board committee clients in connection with many of the most significant securities and crisis management matters in the last decade, including publicly-disclosed government investigations and litigation involving Enron, Adelphia, Global Crossing and AOL Time Warner, among others, appearing before US and international securities regulators on their behalf.  Our success in handling such matters is a product of our experience, service and breadth of practice, and many of our lawyers have served in senior government positions, including as prosecutors and investigators with the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

US Immigration

As part of the suite of services offered to our international clients, Steptoe’s immigration attorneys handle immigration counseling and litigation issues relating to the cross-border movement of executives, managers, and technical personnel; special immigrants such as investors, aliens of extraordinary ability, and outstanding researchers; and applications for work authorization, nonimmigrant visas, permanent residency, and naturalization.


For more information or assistance, please contact the attorney listed below.

Susan Esserman, Washington, DC - Head of India Practice
Tel: +1 202 429 6753