Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Should foreign law firms be allowed to operate in India?

In a very well reasoned article, Som Mandal, the Managing Partner of a leading law firm in India, FoxMandal Little gives us three solid reasons why we should allow foreign firms and also allays our fears on two counts.  Take a look:

One, as more and more Indian companies begin to do business outside India, foreign legal advice is increasingly needed.  Hence the presence of foreign law firm in India is going to be of help to India Inc's increasing appetite for investing in foreign shores.

Second, it gives greater opportunity, better pay to our young lawyers and also exposes them to international best practices.

Third, those service sectors that have fully liberalised have experienced much higher growth than those that are still closed.  Biotechnology, IT and telecom, for instance, have achieved growth rates of between 30% and 37% in 2005-6.  Legal, accounting and railways are all closed and achieved only single digit growth in the same period. 

Then coming to some fears:

On the fear that foreign law firms will take away the litigation work of Indian lawyers in Indian courts; it can at best be an unfounded fear.  They will find it that their learning curve in this respect is far steeper than imagined.  Besides, the rules can be easily amended to keep the foreign firms away from this work.

On the fear that the Indian firms will not be able to compete with the foreign firms because of their size, it should be remembered that in the presence of a level playing field in India for the legal services sector, there are glaring disparities among law firms in terms of size, revenue and quality.   So, mere presence of bigger firms does not necessarily mean no work for smaller firms.  Presence of bigger firms need not necessarily sound death knell for the smaller firms.  Experience proves this.

1 Comment:

Priya said...

In my opinion, it is indispensable to regulate foreign law firms practicing Indian law. However, it is not essential to restrict or regulate foreign law firms functioning solely as Legal Process Outsourcing companies that provide legal services involving foreign laws because, provision of outsourced and offshore legal services do not have any adverse impact either upon the practice of Indian law by the Indian law firms or upon the Indian economy.
Priya Kumar
high-end legal outsourcing