Nishith Desai Associates (NDA) is a research based international law firm and has professionals working together seamlessly from our network of offices at Mumbai – Nariman Point, Bangalore, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Mumbai – Bandra Kurla Complex and New Delhi. We specialize in strategic legal, regulatory and tax advice coupled with industry expertise in an integrated manner. We focus on niche areas in which we provide significant value and are invariably involved in select highly complex, innovative transactions. Our experience and our ability to understand markets and industry specific issues, helps us in providing customized and complete legal solutions to each of our clients. Our key clients include marquee repeat Fortune 500 clientele, of which over 60 per cent are US corporations.

The practice of law is to provide a service to society. While the traditional concept is to aid businesses, we strongly believe that serving public welfare is a law firm's primal social responsibility. We at NDA has a strong commitment to providing services to all deserving social sector projects and in tune encourages social entrepreneurs and investors alike . All of our social sector work, whether it is billable or not, gives us a deep sense of constructive contribution. At NDA we plan to take social-sector practice in law firm to a different level. In line of what NDA believes, the social sector is a separate industry vertical which requires specific legal requirements and specifically cross-border expertise. While our lasting focus is to create a high impact, we work with organizations or all sizes and nationalities. Many of our associates and senior partners dedicate countless hours towards the social sector, in both for-profit and non-profit business spaces. Our associates are actively involved in teaching in law schools, providing training, assistance to government in drafting laws, representation before the regulatory authorities, imparting training to the start-ups and entrepreneurs.

We have come up with three very innovative strategies to advance social business in the country i.e., (i) setting up a large fund for social businesses; (ii) developing strategies for facilitating mergers and acquisitions among non-profit businesses; and (iii) setting up a social stock exchange for trading of businesses which value social impact more than profitability.

For its global contribution to the social sector, NDA is recognized by receiving the Asian Law Firm of the Year (Pro-bono) award from International Financial Law Review, a Euro money publication in 2001. More recently we were recognized as Pacific Business Press: Winner of 'Asian-Counsel's Social Responsible Deals of the Year 2009'. Nishith Desai is also the recipient of Prof. Yunus 'Social Business Pioneer of India' – 2010 award.


The firm has extensive experience backed with research and creativity. Social sector is one of our most passionate practice areas. All our practice areas are recognized to focus on complex issues requiring cross-border expertise. NDA's social sector practice is no different. We only work with selective clients who seek our expertise as 'trusted advisors'. With a view to providing high quality and customized services to our clients, we adopt a team based approach to professional assignments. In addition to the involvement of the above mentioned members, we would be drawing upon resources from various teams and expertise available within the firm.

Social sector requires its own unique set of legal, tax and strategic counseling. In our experience, a social sector organization requires special care and prudence while setting up and operating in India. Often the immense social need of sector organizations reduces their focus on careful legal and tax planning. While NDA encourages entrepreneurial ventures, it does so with a non-negotiable focus on uncompromised compliance and better tax planning.

Our social sector counseling therefore counsels on following primary areas:

  • Setting up of non–profits and social businesses:
    • architectural designing,
    • structuring,
    • funding,
    • advising on type of entity,
    • setting up entity, and
    • best practices.
  • Assisting in setting up of Indian non-profit entities abroad;
  • Advise on compliance with foreign contribution laws, such as Foreign Contribution Regulation Act;
  • Advise on seeking income-tax exemptions;
  • Advising on leveraging international tax treaties.


  • Accion International: A microfinance and micro lending organization, giving people the financial tools they need to work their way out of poverty
  • Action For India Foundation: Action For India (AFI) is a social start-up enterprise dedicated to helping social organizations scale their impact by leveraging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). It offers training and guidance to social entrepreneurs to sustainably scale their organizations through the use of technology. AFI is inspired by and formed with the support of Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister of India and Chairman of the National Innovation Council of India.
  • American India Foundation (AIF, founded 2001): A nonprofit American development organization that is devoted to accelerating social and economic change in India. The AIF has invested in over 100 Indian non-governmental organizations while raising about $50 million since its inception. It is one of the largest secular, non-partisan American organizations supporting development work in India.
  • Ashoka Foundation: A forum dedicated to supporting social entrepreneurs, promoting group entrepreneurship and building infrastructure for the sector by providing a network or tools and support systems to facilitate effective collaborations and partnerships in the social sector.
  • Columbia University: For more than 250 years, Columbia has been a leader in higher education in the nation and around the world. At the core of our wide range of academic inquiry is the commitment to attract and engage the best minds in pursuit of greater human understanding, pioneering new discoveries and service to society.
  • CRY – Child Rights and You is an Indian Non Government Organisation that catalyses change in the lives of underprivileged children in India by restoring their right
  • Deshpande Foundation: One of the leading philanthropic Foundations in Massachusetts and India in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship and international development. Through its grant making, the Deshpande Foundation has helped launch innovative companies, helped NGOs develop an international presence and launched partnerships with some of the most remarkable change agents in the world today.
  • Embrace Global: Embrace's mission is to advance maternal and child health by delivering innovative solutions to the world's most vulnerable populations
  • Gates Foundation: The private family foundation of Bill & Melinda Gates and works on the belief that every life has equal value. This value systems translates into Gates Foundation's work to ensure that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life.
  • Give India: A donation platform that allows you to support a cause of your choice from about 200 NGOs that have been scrutinized for transparency & credibility
  • Global Heritage Fund (GHF): a non-profit International Conservancy established in 2002 in Palo Alto, California, with the mission to save the Earth's most significant and endangered cultural heritage sites in developing countries through scientific excellence and community involvement.
  • Grameen Creative Lab: The Grameen Creative Lab was founded as a Joint Venture between the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh and circ-responsibility, a CR consulting company in Germany. Their shared vision has been to fight poverty by accelerating social business.
  • Grass Root Business fund: The Grassroots Business Fund (GBF) is a global impact investing organization whose mission is to help build and support High Impact Businesses that provide sustainable economic opportunities to millions of people living at the base of the economic pyramid.
  • Indus Heritage Trust: it aims to develop a world class museum and research centre based on the Indus Valley Civilization in India that will for the first time capture the story of the largest first civilization in human history
  • International Justice Mission: International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems - police, courts and laws - effectively protect the poor.
  • BNB Trust: A charitable trust in the state of Gujarat active in education and healthcare sector
  • Pathfinder International: A non-profit organization that works to improve the reproductive health of women, men and adolescents throughout the developing world
  • Pearson Foundation: The Pearson Foundation is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization that aims to make a difference by promoting literacy, learning, and great teaching.
  • Room to Read (RtR): works with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children's literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls. RtR seeks to intervene early in the lives of children in the belief that education empowers people to improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries and future generations. Through the opportunities that only education can provide, RtR strives to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time
  • S. M. Sehgal Foundation (IRRAD): INSTITUTE OF RURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IRRAD is an initiative of the S M Sehgal Foundation, registered as a Trust since 1999 to further the wellbeing of rural communities in India.
  • Teach for All: It is a global network of independent social enterprises that are working to expand educational opportunity in their nations enlisting their most promising future leaders in the effort.
  • The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE): Founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals with roots in the Indus region. There are currently over 12,000 members and more than 1,800 charter members in 53 chapters across 12 countries. TiE's mission is to foster entrepreneurship globally through mentoring, networking, and education. Dedicated to the virtuous cycle of wealth creation and giving back to the community, TiE's focus is on generating and nurturing our next generation of entrepreneurs.
  • Wadhwani Foundation: The Wadhwani Foundation was established in 2000 as a philanthropic Foundation by Dr. Romesh Wadhwani - the Silicon Valley, California based entrepreneur, with the conviction that improved standards of living of a nation's populace was directly tied to accelerating economic development.
  • Wockhardt Foundation: Wockhardt Foundation is a national, secular, non-profit organization engaged in human welfare and social service activities. It is headed by its inspiration – the noble philanthropist, inspiring thinker, voracious writer, and spell-binding orator Huzaifa Khorakiwala.

Mission and Vision

Distinctly Different


FinTech in India: Understanding the Regulatory Side of the Next Big Wave
April 24, 2019

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Round Table

NDA Paper Launch & Round Table on Bilateral Investment Treaty Arbitration
May 02, 2019

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