Indian Bar Council “ready to discuss” liberalisation

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  • flying pigs

    india will never liberalise at this rate.

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  • Bar Council have been on verge of Liberalisation for Years

    The stark truth remains that despite the numerous fact finding trips, government announcements, memorandums of understanding, no concrete steps have yet been taken towards liberalization.

    Back in 2001 the UK Law Society Gazette ran a story with the headline: “India may open the door to foreign practices under licensing agreement”. Perhaps the Companies and LLP Acts of 2008 may act as a catalyst to change, however, remember that there are many with vested interests against liberalization, and that change in India takes a long time.

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  • A rising economy will sharpen thinking

    India's legal monopolists have managed to manipulate the Indian Bar Council thus far, but as India's companies become bigger and more globalised, they will soon realise that they will need help from equally global law firms and push for liberalisation themselves. A non-liberalised legal market is holding Indian business back.

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  • Re: Opening up not warranted

    Very strange to see that liberalisation of Indian legal profession is made by UK lawyers and not by the Indian legal fraternity. The demand clearly is not to strengthen Indian legal system but to earn fees from the MNCs operating in India. India cannot liberalise and allow non-residents in any business sector where the locals do not want any outside intervention, like the retail industry, print or insurance industry. Legal education in India has improved a lot in the last decade and young lawyers are working round the clock to improve their service levels.

    If the UK law firms feel so concerned about Indian legal system, they should first come and impart legal education to the young lawyers at the new law schools. For several years Indian lawyers were not allowed to even advertise and also because of the limit on partnership to 20 they could not expand. Hence there is no need to liberalise the Indian legal system and allow foreigners to earn fees at the cost of hundereds of young Indian lawyers! Indian legal fraternity is not asking for any foreign intervention so please be happy in your country.

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  • Oh yes it is

    Re the last comment, I agree that those regulations have prevented growth and are at least in part responsible for the monopolies in the Indian legal market.

    However India's own big corporations will lobby for liberalisation regardless, as the number of law firms in India able to handle major transactional work or to do international deals is just too small to match India's business ambitions. It is internal pressure that will cause the Indian legal market to liberalise, not any external one.

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  • Red herrings

    As mentioned, the reciprocity argument makes no sense. Indian law firms already operate branch offices in London. UK firms are also paying for Indian law graduates to qualify as solicitors in the UK, via the QLTT etc. The irony is that Indian lawyers are more welcome in London than ever before, in fact some firms are crying out for them (as The Lawyer reports too).

    The problem is that India won't let foreign lawyers operate in India, nor even match the Chinese example of letting firms open offices but not be allowed to offer local law advice.

    The simple truth of the matter is that a small group of powerful Indian lawyers (basically the top firms in Delhi and Mumbai), see foreign firm entry as reducing their profits. This is likely, and Indian clients have indicated they would make good use of UK firms in India if they were allowed to open there. Unless the current Mumbai High Court case clears the way for foreign firms, the only way we will see liberalisation is if the Government forces change upon the profession, just as the Government forced liberalising change upon the English profession with the Legal Services Act 2007.

    This may eventually happen, no matter what the Bar Council says or does to delay change, because general counsel in India want things to change and domestic frustration with the leading Indian firms is growing.

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  • Re: Response to Anon

    Anon - Let there be first demand for UK law firms by the Indian Big Corporations and then the UK firms to think about their entry. UK firms should disclose their rates for billing, which would help these big corporations to decide quickly?

    The point is any industry whether should be opened up for foreign participation depends upon the demand from that relevant industry and currently there is no such demand from the legal fraternity. Yes couple of Indian family owned firms have monopolised the legal practice but see the exodus in these firms in the recent years, gradually these firms would disappear and reality is that new professionally managed firms are emerging and they are much better than even couple of UK law firms.

    Nothing stops the UK firms from entering into referral work arrangement, why do they need to set up shops in India? only because their work is drying up in UK and they are looking a green pastures in India!

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  • IBC beware!!!

    As an Indian origin lawyer who has practised in Anglo-Saxon law firms during my entire legal career, I would urge the IBC not to throw caution to the wind.

    The sceptre of imperialist superiority still looms large within these firms, which have been very slow to accept deserving lawyers of Indian origin into equity positions.

    Moreover, the firms go to great lengths to ensure that lawyers of Indian origin do not work on India-related deals, lest they steal the market upon liberalization. Any liberalization will only serve to further fatten the white legal fat cats – I do not think that it will improve the Indian legal profession or increase the career prospects of Indian lawyers (whether in India or abroad).

    As part of the liberalization discussions, perhaps the IBC should impose an improvement on the diversity statistics of western law firms with regard to senior lawyers of Indian origin.

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  • Suggested Model

    I think the model which can be adopted at present is to allow all international firms to set up offices in India with a condition that only Indian Bar Councils enrolled advocates can become partners and associates with such India offices. Such persons may be allowed to have dual qualifications/enrollments. This will solve problem of all concerned, except of course that of few monopolists here who will have tough time retaining talents and clients.

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    There is no valid argument for net letting foreign law firms practise in India, except for the fact they would be taking away 99% of the big clients from Indian law firms. SO BE IT!!

    Quality will improve, clients will get top quality legal opinions and drafts in record speed, and Indian junior lawyers would be earning much more than they are earning today.

    And most importantly, such foreign law firms would be run in an extremely professional manner, where only performance matters and nothing else, unlike some of the so called best law firms in India where family members treat the office space as their personal drawing rooms and 'durbaars.' I urge the foreign law firms to come India and offer us higher salaries because we deserve it, for all the stress and utter lack of respect we go through.

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