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Survey: 9 out of 10 GCs want foreign law firms to enter, and most think foreign lawyers are better than domestic ones

Clients would like Indian law firms to pull up socks to compete with foreign firms: Survey (source IDEX Legal)
Clients would like Indian law firms to pull up socks to compete with foreign firms: Survey (source IDEX Legal)

General Counsel (GC) from 87 Indian companies would mostly like foreign law firms (FLFs) to come into India, but fewer than half of them would prefer giving their business to the FLFs, even though a majority of them find that the FLFs are generally more competent than Indian law firms.

IDEX Legal and Thomson Reuters surveyed 87 GCs across India, from at least 13 industries and sectors, for their General Counsel Benchmarking Survey 2017.

Out of those, 89% of said they would like regulations permitting the entry of FLFs relaxed, and 87% felt that the presence of FLFs would be good for the Indian market.

Yet, only 40% said that they would use an FLF in preference to an Indian law firm, though that response is open to wide and varying interpretations and market conditions.


77% of the GCs interviewed thought foreign lawyers “produce a higher standard of document”, and 73% thought foreign lawyers benefit from “more structured team working”.

The survey report stated: “The big message that Indian law firms are continually ignoring: the threat is not from foreign law firms. The real threat is that clients are not happy with the services and pricing they’re receiving from Indian law firms.

“Indian law firms which continue to rest on their laurels assuming that the services that they are providing are entirely satisfactory, have their head in the sand.”

Around 55% of the GC thought that foreign lawyers are “technically better trained”, while 71% thought that foreign lawyers are able to “field specialists lawyers more easily”.

The report adds that there has recently been a paradigm shift in the manner of providing legal services to clients and even before FLFs can come in, GCs have caused competition in the Indian legal market to increase by making their in-house teams self-sufficient, even as “hot and hungry” young new players in the Indian law firm space disrupt the market.

Evidently, 68% of the respondent GCs said that they would like to see “other law firms” challenge the status quo over the next few years, and 77% said they see a real possibility of this happening.

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