Indian govt says ‘yes’ to foreign law firms

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Readers' comments (11)

  • Isn't it just too late?

    This move is just too little too late. It's just like Latin America. The Mexicans opened up with their 50% Mexican equity partner rules and controls, and all the firms flocked to Europe and Asia while Mexico remained (and still remains) sidelined.

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  • India's Law Minister

    After meeting India's minister of law, I know he is really determined to push this reform forward. But I expect that this opening up can only occur under the current Indian government.

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  • Who will go first?

    I think that Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Ashurst will be the first to officially set up in India. They are way ahead of the rest in terms of their inroads into India.

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  • What about the costs?

    Making business sense of the costs involved in a move to India is tough. Any decent firm would have to set up in Mumbai and the price of land in Mumbai is remarkably high - almost as high as those in the West End.
    The kind of money that will have to spent on advertising (if they allow firms to advertise) will also be quite high, this will include hiring marketing professionals, and trying to ensure that everyone knows we are physically there.

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  • An Indian partner's view

    We have consistently taken a view that foreign lawyers should be allowed to open office in India. We believe that, keeping in mind the stiff opposition from lawyers and law firms in India, it would be better if the government opened up the sector in stages.
    For the present moment the Indian government should adopt what has been done by other countries - that is as a start to allow foreign firm to practice foreign law. Over a period they will mix with Indian lawyers and then the government can relax the market further to allow them to practice corporate law.
    Many of the major Indian firms oppose entry of foreign firms. We, however, support the entry and this was also voiced by some medium and small firms. The law ministry recently in an affidavit before the supreme court stated categorically that foreign firms should be allowed to practice foreign law.
    It is very common that whenever a country opens its door that the major firms always oppose the action and thereafter they prosper too. India is no difference and therefore it is natural for some firms to oppose.
    Even when the insurance sector was opened in India there was stiff opposition from the Indian insurance companies. However despite of such strong opposition the sector was opened and now everyone is flourishing.

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  • Collaboration with foreign law firms

    Some volcanic changes are required in the Indian legal market. The current culture in India towards sole practitioners and local firms must be replaced by an internationalised law firm culture and firm-to-firm collaboration.
    In Indian law the larger firms do have a monopoly, which is a downfall in an increasingly globalised era. Times are changing and the system must be changed in order improve the public’s faith in the legal system.
    There is nothing wrong with inviting collaboration through a tie up with a foreign law firm, as this will likely sharpen the standard of Indian law as well as the standard of living of local legal professionals. The country will also benefit from an improved justice system and revenue by way of taxes.

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  • There should be reciprocal arrangements

    Indian lawyers should be allowed to practice in other nations by those governments on a reciprocal arrangement. Otherwise foreign firms should not be allowed entry into India.

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  • Herbert Smith being the first one

    Adding to what Asia Managing Partner (see comment below) has said, I believe that Herbert Smith will be the first one - even before the other firms - to open up in India. This is evidenced by their desperate hiring of Indian lawyers recently.

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  • Indian lawyers practicing abroad

    Re: Comment regarding reciprocal arrangements.

    Indian lawyers are allowed to practice abroad. A well structured and a simple exam in professional ethics and accounts is enough to make an Indian lawyer re-qualify as an English lawyer. Does India have anything similar to offer? Indian firms have been set up in UK for a number of years. Indian lawyers (or law firm owners) on the other hand seem insecure and trying all tricks in the trade to keep the market their exclusive monopoly.

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  • foreign lawyers in India

    As a lawyer and an Indian, but one who is not an Indian lawyer, I am happy that foreign law firms will be allowed to open offices in India. I believe that this move will make a substantial improvement in legal services by providing a real choice to the customer, i.e. the client. What appears to have been forgotten in this debate is how the new move will affect the ultimate beneficiary.
    We, lawyers, exist to provide a service. Our skills are of little value if the service which we provide is flawed or, for some reason, inadequate. By opening up the market, the client will be able to judge for him/herself who is the best advocate for any given case.
    The Indian lawyers should not fear competition since, ultimately, they too shall benefit. They will come across new and different approaches to legal issues which will arm them with knowledge and skills of other legal systems, so that they too can attract more foreign clients and truly call themselves "international".

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