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Which practice areas will be the biggest growers as corporate legal industry exceeds $1bn turnover? [via Mint]

Managing partners' predictions for 2015-16 (Graphic by Naveen Kumar Saini / Mint)
Managing partners' predictions for 2015-16 (Graphic by Naveen Kumar Saini / Mint)
Corporate and commercial law firms in India turned over just over $1 billion in revenue in the 2014-15 financial year, estimated London-based legal market consultancy RSG Consulting in its bi-annual report on the Indian legal industry based on a survey of more than 500 clients and 26 law firm managing partners.

Despite law firms’ billing rates having stayed at roughly the same levels for the top 40 firms in RSG’s ranking of top law firms, revenues were estimated to have increased by between 10% and 25% in the last 12 months due to work picking up from June and July 2014.

But while among smaller and mid-sized firms, estimated revenues have increased by around 25-30%, among the Big Six firms—the six largest firms occupying the first six places in the top 40 rankings—revenue increases were either typically lower or even non-existent over the past year.

But due to billing rates not rising and few improvements in law firm efficiency, profitability at most firms either stayed the same or decreased slightly, according to RSG’s analysis.

That said, surveyed managing partners were very optimistic, expecting an acceleration of revenue and profitability in the next 12 months, which would primarily be fuelled by corporate and litigation practice areas (see chart).

A quarter of firms surveyed said that corporate law practice would be the fastest growing area in 2015, with 23% putting their chips on litigation or arbitration being the main growth engines due to the rise of regulatory and antitrust work, disputes in the infrastructure sector, and problems with bond issues.

Expectations of growth in other practice areas were far more mixed and tended to vary greatly depending on the firm’s client-base and geographical focus. Around 10% saw infrastructure, including telecoms and power, as likely growth areas, though others reported the opposite, saying that their infrastructure practices were flat-lining.

Generally speaking, the trend according to the survey was for Delhi offices to look forward to increased infrastructure and project work while Mumbai teams are preparing themselves for capital market work and engagements with foreign investors.

NB: The largest portion of the “Other” practice areas in the chart was IP or patents work (named by 5% of respondents). It also includes shipping, education, restructuring and insolvency, regulation, real estate, labour & employment all receiving less than 3% of the total responses.

This article was first published in Mint. Mint’s association with LegallyIndia.com will bring you regular insight and analysis of major developments in law and the legal world.

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