A&O tops list of foreign India practices

Allen & Overy (A&O) has come out at the head of a new ranking of foreign law firms’ Indian practices, narrowly beating magic circle rival Linklaters.

The rankings were compiled after consultancy firm RSG Consulting carried out interviews with Indian and international companies and Indian law firms, and analysed deals data, to rank the top 20 international firms with an India practice.

A&O picked up 17 client mentions for the best reputation in India, two fewer than both third-ranked Clifford Chance and Linklaters, but pulled ahead of its rivals due to having more mentions for recent instructions and a higher score when it came to deals rankings.

However, the firm was not mentioned by any Indian firms, in contrast to Clifford Chance and Linklaters. Both those firms, as well as Baker & McKenzie, Norton Rose and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, were mentioned three times by Indian firms.

There were no firms originating from outside the US or UK in the top 20 except Australian firm Minter Ellison, ranked joint 17th.

RSG said that Indian companies mentioned 45 different US law firms during the course of its research, compared to 33 UK law firms, although the UK firms dominated the top of the rankings.

The survey also found that both clients and Indian lawyers said cross-border deals involved a greater spread of jurisdictions in 2012 than previously, including inbound investment from Japan and South Korea and outbound investment into India. However, instructions to international firms were focused on the major global players.

RSG also ranked the top 40 Indian firms, giving them weighted scores for capacity, profile, quality of work and client satisfaction. India’s largest firm, Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co, achieved the highest total score, followed by Clifford Chance’s former Indian best friend AZB & Partners.

Smaller firms, however, gained better client satisfaction scores than India’s giant firms. RSG said their success in this regard “speaks volumes on how the pecking order of Indian law firms is not as well established as the top firms might like to believe. Some of the enablement of the ‘upstarts’ is down to the purchasing patterns of foreign clients and foreign law firms, who find the younger firms more compatible to instruct.”

This extended to service delivery, where A&O’s former Indian best friend Trilegal was the only firm in the top six to achieve a client satisfaction score above the market average.

The total value of the Indian legal market was estimated at $1.075bn in 2012, with the biggest 500 Indian companies each spending an average of $2.15m on legal fees, although the largest 50 companies are responsible for around 50 per cent of total spend. Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of the legal spend went to law firms as opposed to court advocates, with 77 per cent of that amount going to Indian law firms and the balance to international firms.

International law firms: India practice rankings

RSG Ranking 2013 Firm Mentions score (/40) Deal score (/20) Total score (/60)
1 Allen & Overy 39 18 57
2 Linklaters 40 12 52
3 Clifford Chance 33 7 40
4 Herbert Smith Freehills 14 18 32
5 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 20 11 31
6 Baker & McKenzie 28 2 30
7 Jones Day 10 18 28
8 Slaughter and May 11 14 25
9 White & Case 10 14 24
10 Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom 5 14 19
11 Ashurst 5 13 18
11 DLA Piper 8 10 18
13 Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison 3 14 17
14 Shearman & Sterling 4 12 16
15 Latham & Watkins 7 7 14
16 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 2 11 13
17 Minter Ellison 1 11 12
17 Davis Polk & Wardwell 4 8 12
17 Bird & Bird 5 7 12
17 Norton Rose 7 5 12

Source: RSG Consulting