Bakers plays waiting game for India push

GLOBAL leader Baker & McKenzie will establish a presence in India by the close of the year if current hostility surrounding foreign movement into the country eases.

The plan, which has already seen the firm shopping for Indian lawyers, is one of several issues set to be raised at the annual partnership meeting in Chicago in October.

Incoming chair John Klotsche will also announce a $US50 million upturn in revenue to $US595 million and tell the firm's 500 partners of a “tremendous” growth in the Hong Kong caseload.

The meeting will hear of increased income in Baker & McKenzie's second and third highest revenue-earners – Chicago and London – but despite the UK growth no London-based solicitors will be put forward for partnership.

The move into India is currently being stalled by objections from regulators, but Klotsche said it was expected that Baker & McKenzie would establish an operation in either Bombay or Delhi before the end of the year.

However, it is not yet known if the firm will receive approval for a fully-fledged office or whether it will have to concede to an association with an Indian practice.

Klotsche said the firm, which is currently talking to local lawyers, was playing a waiting game with officials before proceeding with plans.

“The regulatory environment in the region is becoming somewhat hostile to both non-Indian law firms and non-Indian lawyers,” he said.

“I would expect our presence there to be in the approval stages in the next six months or so, but what form it is going to take is going to be driven, in some part, by the regulatory issues.”

Klotsche said staff candidates for the Indian office have been drawn from firms Baker & McKenzie has dealt with in the past.

“They will need tonnes of integrity, tonnes of quality, a good client base and the capability of dealing with cross-border international transactions, which is our bread-and-butter practice,” he said.