Allen & Overy (A&O) has signed a referral relationship with Indian law firm Trilegal.
The deal also includes joint-training for Trilegal partners and associates as well as a consultancy agreement and a joint marketing initiative.
A&O’s head of the India group, partner Alex Pease, said: “These are very smart guys and know their market. They’re young, up and coming and at the top of their game.
“They are a meritocratic firm with offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, and their lawyers are individually incredibly impressive. These aren’t door-openers, they’re deal-doers.”
Trilegal partners are also expected to give talks to A&O lawyers and clients about how to make investments in India while A&O will provide training in London and via video.
However the referral agreement between the two firms is non-exclusive. Pease said he would be “delighted” if Trilegal worked with A&O’s competitors as “other Magic Circle firms do top deals as well and the more experience [Trilegal] gets of doing top deals, the better”.
The tie-up also does not include any profit-sharing arrangement, meaning that it is not in breach of India’s ban on foreign law firms practicing in India.
Pease denied that the agreement was designed to position the firm ahead of liberalization of the Indian legal market.
“No-one knows if and when liberalization will occur,” he said. “I’ve been following this issue for three years and have gone from heights of excitement to depths of despair. It’s just too early to make any prediction – this is about looking after our clients’ interests in India now.”
Pease said the relationship came about through A&O’s Singapore office, which has worked with Trilegal for several years. It was signed officially last month.