Facebook Twitter Google Email

ObamaDiscussions to allow foreign law firms to operate in India were dropped during US President Barack Obama’s state visit to India, said two US law firm partners who were part of the delegation.

DLA Piper Washington partner William Cook and Boston-based Shahana Basu Kanodia who is partner and chair of the South Asia practice group at US law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, were both part of the roughly 200-strong delegation that accompanied Obama on his three-day tour of India that started on 6 November.

“The law-related agenda was actually dropped from the agenda. Initially it was there but then it was decided to focus on the main issues, which from the President’s perspective was job creation,” said Kanodia.

Cook also told Legally India that legal market liberalisation was a low priority in the Obama administration’s agenda and was not raised at all during the visit.

“I think the US has been pushing the legal opening up of the market for a while, but ever since the Bombay High Court decision [in the Lawyers Collective case last year], I don’t see the Indian legal market opening up any time soon,” added Kanodia. “I think it would still take five, six or seven years.”

She explained: “In the case of this delegation it was a question of picking the battles to fight and given the recession and Obama’s loss in the House [of Representatives], what is uppermost in everybody’s mind is jobs.”

Kanodia also added that most Indian law firms were opposed to liberalisation and that Indian businesses too saw few advantages in allowing foreign firms in, which could drive up billing rates further despite some Indian firms already having almost comparable rates to US firms.

President Obama (pictured) started his 10-day tour of Asia in India on 6 November, and had focused on promoting trade and democracy.

In July UK Prime Minister David Cameron visited India and was accompanied by Clifford Chance senior partner Stuart Popham, who said that he was confident India would lift its restrictions on foreign lawyers by 2012.

The Chennai High Court is currently hearing a writ petition against 31 foreign law firms, alleging that they are practising law illegally in India.

This is a longer version of a news item first published by Bloomberg.

Share this: Facebook Twitter Google Email
Related Articles
Click to show 13 comments
at your own risk
(alt+shift+c)

NB: By reading the comments you agree that they are the personal views and opinions of readers, for which Legally India has no liability whatsoever. Because anonymous comments may be biased or unreliable, you agree that you will not allow any comment(s) to affect your estimation of any person(s) or organisation(s). If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to administrator' below the comment with your objection and we will review it as soon as practicable.

reader comments:comments rss feedrefresh

Filter out low-rated comments. Show all comments. Show latest comments only (beta)

1
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-10 23:45
Fed up of reports on setbacks to liberalisation. Hail the sweat/sweet shops!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
2
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 01:11
Why have you forsaken us, oh foreign law firms. Please lobby hard. WE WAAAAANNNNTTTT FOREEIGN LAW FIRMS IN INDIAAAAA!!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
3
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 01:45
Dear Obama, please arrange a drone attack on [...] headquarters.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
4
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 02:56
@#3 LOL.

In my objective view, I don't see how foreign law firms will provide India the benefits that are being touted by advocates of blanket liberalisation. I don't adhere to the stubborn views of the SILF as well as their reciprocity arguments are just inane.

We should open up, but by taking written undertakings from the entrants as to how they will hire and train Indian grads, how they will promote India as a legal hub, how much in annual revenues must they target, how many hires must come from India, and other factors. The licence should be reviewed annually by an independent authority (not BCI or Law Ministry) and should they fail to achieve any of the set targets, their licence should be revoked.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
5
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 05:44
@ 4 - I think the same kind of treatment is to be given to foreign law firms which accounting firms get or have had been getting all these days !
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
6
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 09:55
OK, so this stupid UPA govt wants to create jobs in america but not in india???

OMG!! how long do we have to endure these morons? this is the most corrupt and useless govt in history.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
7
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 17:08
abovethelaw.com/2010/11/aba-asks-obama-to-make-india-play-fair/#more-44118

INDIAN LAW FIRMS - SEE WHAT YOU ARE DOING? PLEASE ALLOW FOREIGN LAW FIRMS TO ENTER. EVERYONE (OTHER THAN YOU HORRIBLE SMALL-MINDED PARTNERS).

GS - LISTEN TO THE YOUNG LAWYERS. INDIA IS THE FUTURE. AND WE CAN'T WORK WITH THE OLD AND INCOMPETENT GENERATION THAT RUNS INDIAN LAW FIRMS. HELP US BECOME GOOD CORPORATE LAWYERS BY LEARNING FROM THE WEST. PLEASE!!!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
9
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 21:50
#8 thank you for the link to the ABA letter-hope BCI, the law ministry, Balaji and the like are reading this. Allowing foreign law firms to set up offices in India and practice foreign (AND NOT INDIAN) law will be a win-win situation for all.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
10
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-11 22:36
The people who will be happiest at this are China. They will continue to be ahead of us in every economic sphere. It is a pity that a few corrupt monopolists are hijacking reforms in important sectors like retail, education, law etc. SILF are oligarchs and are no better than the Reddy brothers in Karnataka.

The entry of foreign lawyers will help certain specialist areas of the law where the west is away ahead, such as medical law, environment law, consumer law, cyber law, media law etc. Foreign law firms are also bigtime into public policy and hire a lot of research-oriented people. There are law college mushrooming all over and AMSS, Khaitan etc cannot create enough jobs for them so we need foreign firms.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
11
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-12 00:02
thks to the person who posted the aba letter. i wonder if the aba knows dat most young indian lawyers support lib'sation. it will be nice if li can interview the aba prez.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
12
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-14 02:05
the person to be blamed for this is verappa moily (worst law minsiter of all time). HR Bharadwaj had openly declared his support for liberalisation but moily REVERSED the policy and has said no. how can he do that? the nation needs to know who he "consulted" to reach this decision. yesterday, veerapa moily openly supported A Raja giving the ridiculous argument that the CAG report is not a report at all! if this is the intelligence of the law minister then god help this country.

it is really unfortunate that the SAARC countries are all f**ked up unstable countries. if we had good neighbours then foreign law firms could have opened offices there and we would have happily gone.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link
13
 
Show?
Recommend! +0 Objection! -0 Anonymous guest 2010-11-14 10:29
Hehehe....I am beginning to love the wretched cries of desi lawyers, clamouring for foreign law firms.

PS: if you are any good, then pls work for a few years in the allegedly horrible indigenous firms and branch out on your own. Make your own destiny. Nothing is stopping you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to LI | #  link

Filter out low-rated comments. Show all comments.

Add comment (Alt+Shift+A)

We and fellow readers love when you share your thoughts in a comment but please:
  • be nice to other readers and humans who likely have feelings,
  • use full English sentences and words, and
  • abide by Legally India's full terms and conditions in using the site.