INTERNATIONAL firm Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue has established a presence in India only months after lawyers in the country launched legal action aimed at banishing foreign practitioners.
But the firm, which will work through an associated office of its partner Jai Pathak, is unlikely to face such fierce opposition from protectionist local lawyers, averting their gaze by opening under the leadership of an Indian national.
Pathak, formerly a partner in the London office, has opened as Jai Pathak & Associates in New Delhi. He retains his Jones Day partnership and will work with local lawyer Freyan Desai. The office will have an association with Jones Day, but revenue generated by the offshoot practice will not go into the US firm's coffers.
Jones Day managing partner Patrick McCartan, based at the firm's headquarters in the US state of Cleveland, said the practice did not expect any problems in the region.
He said Pathak's Indian, US and UK qualifications meant he fulfilled the country's licensing requirements.
“We think it is the right way to approach a market of that kind,” said McCartan. “We're satisfied that we're in compliance with the Indian regulations and we intend to remain in compliance. What others do we'll leave to them.”
“India looks good as far as we're concerned. It's not only a very large country with great economic potential, but it's an English-speaking country, it's a democracy, and it has a common law tradition.
“We have had increased client interest and activity in India, in fact we've probably had as much interest from US and European clients in India as we've had in China.
“When we consider other emerging economies in the world, none of those factors are present.”
The collective claimed the three were acting in a “totally illegal and unregulated manner”. It claimed they were flouting the rules by practising without passing local Bar examinations.
However, the three said the terms of their licence did not require them to qualify as Indian lawyers and the matter is now in the hands of the High Court.
“My personal feeling is that foreign lawyers will have to conform to whatever laws and regulations govern the practice of law in India,” said Pathak.
“Everybody who intends to practise in a foreign jurisdiction must conform to the laws of the land and I think all law firms will have to do that.”