You are here

Indian businesses and law firms strongly support liberalisation of India’s legal market

29 June 2012

Add comment

By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

The leaders of India’s largest companies and top law firms almost unanimously agree that the country’s legal market should be liberalised, according to research published yesterday.

A survey of 100 C-suite executives and 100 general counsel from India’s largest companies, as well as 101 partners and associates from India’s top 50 law firms, found that ninety-six per cent of respondents (including 98 per cent of Indian partners) believe the India legal market should be liberalised.

Nine tenths of respondents said that it will lead to easier access to international legal expertise as well as to more career opportunities and better legal education for Indian lawyers. In addition, three quarters of respondents agreed it will bring into India international legal work that would otherwise have been done overseas.

The survey also found strong support for foreign law firms to provide domestic and international legal advice in India. Seventy-nine per cent of respondents said foreign law firms should be allowed to employ and go into partnership with Indian lawyers, and merge with Indian law firms, to practise both Indian and foreign law. Nearly two-thirds said this should happen within two years.

Many respondents agreed that allowing foreign lawyers to practise foreign law in India would have a positive effect on the quality of legal services provided to large corporations, with 69 per cent of partners and 48 per cent of the C-suite – but only 38 per cent of general counsel – in favour.

General counsel were more strongly in favour of allowing foreign law firms to practise Indian law through Indian-qualified lawyers, with over three quarters saying it would have a positive effect. Eighty-five per cent of general counsel said it would provide easier access for clients and Indian lawyers to international legal expertise and a similar number said it would provide wider choice for clients. Ninety per cent of partners also support this approach

However, there were some concerns about loss of talent, with 63 per cent of respondents saying foreign law firms will attract away from Indian law firms some of the most talented Indian lawyers. Also of concern to nearly half of respondents was that foreign law firms would take away work that would otherwise have been given to domestic firms.

When asked about the current quality of legal services provided by Indian law firms to large corporations, 89 per cent of respondents (including 86 per cent of general counsel) said they are either good or very good. However, when asked how acceptable the general quality of such services are, respondents were divided: 51 per cent said they are acceptable, while 48 per cent said they could be better; there was a similarly even split in opinion among partners and general counsel.

The full findings of the research, which was conducted by YouGov in association with Allen & Overy, are published in All Agreed?

Categorised in:

Business development & Strategy International