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Allen & Overy (A&O) is attempting to strengthen its ties to the Indian legal market by providing an endowment for a professor of law at Bangalore's India University.
The position, which will be known as the Allen & Overy Professor of International Financial Law, comes with a ten-year endowment. As part of the entente, A&O will send over its special counsel Philip Wood to speak at India University. Wood is also a visiting professor at Oxford University and Queen Mary, London, among other universities.
Chair of A&O's India group Alex Pease has been part of the UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (Jetco) legal talks about liberalising the Indian market, which have stepped up a gear since January. Also taking part from the UK side were the Law Society of England and Wales, Ashurst, Clifford Chance and Pinsent Masons.
Pease said that the endowment proved A&O's long-term commitment to India. He said: "We appreciate the complex challenges that lie ahead for India's legal infrastructure in terms of meeting the demands of a rapidly growing economy. This endowment is a first step towards establishing a collaborative approach within India to address some of these challenges."
But compared with its magic circle rivals, so far A&O has taken a softly-softly approach to the Indian market, where it is still illegal for foreign firms to practice.
In December, Linklaters announced that it would be tying up with Mumbai firm Thawar Thakore & Associates (The Lawyer, 18 December), while Clifford Chance now recruits directly from the vast pool of Indian law graduates, offering a dozen or more Indian law school candidates jobs pending their admission to the Indian bar.
Insiders at A&O told The Lawyer that the firm believed it was better to work with the Indian authorities rather than try to work around rules that currently bar foreign entry into the market.