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LIVE BLOG • JGLS liberalisation talks: Commerce ministry talks plainly, discusses with Lalit Bhasin, R Luthra and more…

Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) Sonepat and the Indiana University Center on the Global Legal Profession is hosting a very interesting panel discussion today, which I intend to live blog here.

Live blog

17:15: Typical Delhi rains have caused typical delays to this eager correspondent today, hence slightly tardy. Missed JGLS’ founding VC Raj Kumar’s starting address, who’s now been followed by Jay Krishnan from Indiana’s law school introducing US ambassador to India Richard K Verma (also a decorated military judge and ex-partner at US law firm Steptoe & Johnson).

Ambassador Richard K Verma

17:23: Ambassador since December 2014, ambassador Verma - born in India - relates typical Indian experience for those who wanted to be lawyers a certain generation ago.

A friend later apparently told him: "Ok, [you're now] US ambassador to India, maybe finally your parents will stop pressuring you to go to medical school."

17:26: Verma's got the audience in the palm of his hand with anecdotes but no mention of legal liberalisation yet.

17:28: Verma: “I really do believe for India to fulfill its global economic potential, it should participate in the gradual globalisation of the legal profession.”

17:30 He says that in a globalised economy liberalisation is important.

Verma also says he'd like more US law professors here, and more American students in India. We are in discussions with the education ministry with a higher education MOU, which will help us with this discussion even further.

Harmonising our systems of education will actually help liberalisation.

He says: You ought to be able to come to the US for a semester and study law and get credit here. We are working on that and I hope some good news to report in the next couple of months.

17:33: Verma says: Now a word about legal liberalisation...

But no, not quite. First more general stuff. What a tease: You'll know prime minister (Modi) and President (Obama) have a good relationship. They've had 8 (?) meetings and 3 summits, says Verma. US president has referred to the relationship as "one f the defining relationships of the 21st century" and sees US as an indispensable partner to India in every area.

17:36:  Verma talks more about business ties because that is why “this work that the bar council, Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) and so many others, have been right to think about how to open the legal market as well”.

“Society of Independent Law Firms (sic, SILF) has been such a great leader in the field” and is preparing some recommendations, says Verma, smiling at Lalit Bhasin in the front row.

Verma says: Liberalisation will be mutually beneficial to both, not just about US lawyers wanting a foothold here.

I understand some members of the Indian bar have been worried about getting displaced.

But what I think foreign firms will be interested in, is collaboration in close partnership with Indian law firms, and to bring to bear their expertise here.

This is not about taking over market share. This is about how to bring the best possible legal advice to their client.

And our experience is if there are multi-jurisdictional practices it is a win for everyone.

17:40: "No state in the US requires US citizenship to practice". Some might be more restrictive than others, but none have a citizenship requirement.

Today is an opportunity to build trust. To take into account a variety of opinions.

He understands liberasation of market will not happen in one swoop but will happen in phases. He wants to see more collaboration.

17:41: Verma: "I do congratulate all the stakeholders today for thinking about it in that way. Not that we're tearing down a barrier, but how do we make ourselves more competitive. I think that's the right way to look at it."

He’s clearly coming to a close with some inspirational statements (yes, he even mentions collaboration in space).

Good speech. I think Manan Kumar Mishra will be next.

17:45: A very distinguished speaker is next, says Raj Kumar. Oh no. Looks like Mishra has bailed.

Sudhanshu Pandey is giving the inaugural address instead though - that will be really interesting actually...

Sudhanshu Pandey (commerce ministry)

17:47: Let me be honest, in the department of commerce, how we look at this issue... is much more to do with effective communication.

I'm being very honest, and ulness we address some of those issues, perhaps the delay is going to be more and more.

If we are talking about a communication between various stakeholders and the legal fraternity.

Today India is home to largest number of registered lawyers in the world as one country. And their contribution to GDP is one of the lowest.

These are effects you can verify, the reasons are many.

17:50:  Vast majority of world's top 100 firms are located in US, which has less than a tenth of legal professionals to India. How has it happened? If you look at their revenue.

Accounts are not very accurate - various surveys - 2014, legal services were roughly $620bn. After 2008, it slightly deprsesed for 3 years until 2010. Again it started growing.

The Indian estimated surveyed market size is less than 1% of total legal services market size. $6.2bn or so.

These are facts and figures which are very important for a perspective.

India proudly claims and rightly so, to be a country which is based on very solid foundations of not only democracy but rule of law.

When we talk rule of law, it has to be rule of law for everyone. Economy, which is the backbone of every country, needs reform...

How do you sustain and harvest the best fruits of these (economic) reforms for the benefit of the growth of the country, growth of the economy and growth of all professionals.

17:57: Out of 1,400,000 lawyers in India, only 200,000 are in the corporate business. The remaining 1,200,000 are in the litigation business, [in various courts].

Where we have erred perhaps in communciations, is in communicating effectively with this 1200-thousand community. They feel it is their job that is likely to be threatened. Nobody is competing with their job, even looking at that option of competing in the sub courts, municipal courts [etc].

A very important communciation with the stakeholders is necessary. And atmosphere is right. Which is the feeling that in the law firms, chairman Mr Bhasin is sitting here [Pandey smiles at Lalit Bhasin] - see Indian legal [reforms will make a level playing field].

We have to allow competitiveness and Darwin's law - essentially survival of the fittest. You have to be striving all the time, competing with your counterpart.

One of the things that department of commerce is looking at but is also coming in the way - market development is extremely important.

One of the limitations, that you can not even advertise the legal services is now dated.

What kind of advertisement should be there, how much should be there, you can have regulations around that. But to have a complete nono for a profession, where from the consumer's point of view, i have to make a selection from among which legal services are available.

This is an extremely important dimension that needs to be taken care of.

This is going to provide, to foreign and domestic law firms, a level playing field.

Second, is the nature of relationships / partnership.

The biggest (global) law firm out of 100 is somewhere of the size of 5000 lawyers, and on average is 1000 plus. And they have to compete in India with firms that are pretty small in size.

18:00: Therefore it is extremely important that some amendment has happened in the company law, which allows now LLP structure, but how this effectively has to be functional, that is an area that needs to be addressed through regulation.

Third governance. To be honest, commerce (ministry) feels very strongly, that hte conflict of interest has to be removed.

A proefssional body has to govern itself as profession, it should have its own code of conduct, its own code of ethics.

What UK did in 2007, they came out in a comprehensive law - the legal services act - what that provided, in UK you have nearly 6/7 regulators for different aspects of legal services that are beign offered in UK.

For solicitors you have Solicitors REgulation authority, for barristers you have another (etc).

The reason is, every segment of the profession has a different consumer requirement, a different (regulation) requirement, and therefore needs to be regulated differently.

Therefore we feel in the department of commerce, that while it's important to liberalise legal servcies, we also bring in place right kind of governance structure, ... that has predictability, and can be fair to everyone.

The legal fraternity has to look at these (two) issues.

Professional indemnity insurance. I will speak largely from point of view of consumer. The legal professional has to give confidence to consumer, if he is not getting services he agreed to, then what is the remedy available to me.

Today unfortunately not available to me.

A legal ombudsman - we have ombudsman in every area - why not (in legal)?

18:03 I am very confident that BCI have come out already and initiated a process of consultation and the process will move forward. But my concern is not how it should be moving, that it should be moving in right direction with right governance structure, right (regulations in place).

Regulations (should) take care of consumers (coming from outside and inside).

At no stage do we feel that opening up will threaten or adversely affect anyone in India.

It will be just the other way. Antoehr growth story, another story of success. The foreign law firms will open new opportunities for students, omre and more students after class 12 will choose law as a profession because it will offer them a very (promising) career.

Last word of caution - while we undertake this journey, we should very clearly come out with right governnace sturcture in place so the journey is not bumpy.

Recap of commerce ministry’s Sudhanshu Pandey

Wow, that was impressive. Sorry for the typos above, but since this is sort of coming from the horse’s mouth, it was worth recording nearly in full.

Pandey really knew what he was talking about and it sounds like he outlined a very sensible roadmap for the future of the legal profession as a whole.

In short, looks like the government is rather keen to reform the BCI and regulation of the profession.

Panel discussion

18:13: Jay Krishnan introduces the panel. Silf president Lalit Bhasin needs no introduction (though Krishnan provides one anyway of course).

RV Anuradha, Clarus Law Associates, co-founded in 2007, and ex-Amarchand partner.

PH Devaiah, partner and GC of Everstone Capital.

Pratibha Jain, Nishith Desai partner in Delhi (and wife of JGLS dean Raj Kumar of course), former GC of Goldman Sachs India and studied and worked in the US.

And last and certainly not least, Luthra & Luthra founder and managing partner Rajiv Luthra of course, being introduced by Raj Kumar.

Siddharth Raja, Samvad Partners co-founder.

And the commerce ministry’s Pandey is also on the panel.

Krishnan and Kumar will moderate. This could get interesting…

18:14: Krishnan asks Bhasin. A broad overview of how you see this issue today, and talk about Silf views towards BCI draft rules? How do you see this issue of reciprocity, especially how it’s been defined differently depending on how you talk to. And if an amendment to the Advocates Act is necessary.

Bhasin, rightfully to much merriment, notes that these are a lot of questions.

18:20: Lalit Bhasin:

Everyone is agreed on this, as a matter of principle, as a matter of policy, we are all with the government, when it initiated this move in 2014, that the legal services sector needs to be liberalised and opened up.

This is not the issue. It is a major breakthrough. For more than 20 years, since I've been at the helm, (along with Rajiv Luthra and Jyoti Sagar), we have always opposed the entry of foreign lawifrms, and same was the stand of bar associations and bar coucnils.

We took the lead in 2014, very well, we have utilised these 20 years, to strengthen the Indian legal profession, particularly the law firms. So at this point in time we feel that Indian law firms are second to none.

They will face good and healthy competition from our foreign counterparts, therefore they should be allowed to come and practice here.

The issue is not whether it shold be opened or not, that is a a closed chapter. THe question is, how do we follow it up?

In January we had a meeting on the initiative of Sudhanshu Pandey (commerce ministry)...

Thereafter an inter-ministerial group was set up by the government of India. Ministry of commerce made a presentation, which was coincidentally almost identical. We had recommende, and the ministry of commerce agreed with that, there has to be a phased sequential entry of foreign law firms in India.

It is about the procedure to be followed, and as Mr Pandey said, the governance issue.

Phase 1, which is very critical... by liberalisation the internal functioning of the profession. To create a level playing field, certain things like LLPs. LLPs in principle you can set up an LLP, but BCI does not permit us to.

Bhasin says: What they call advertising we call dissemination of information.

If someone wants a lawyer in Kanpur, how would he? He'd ask my friend Lalit Bhasin (please recommend a lawyer).

They don't allow us to have entries in law directories, they don't allow us to have proper websites. So many other issues we have highlighted in our representation to the ministry.

18:22: Rajiv Luthra starts with a Trump quip (if there’s popular demand I will recount it), breaking the ice.

Luthra says, after Mr Bhasin - “whom I follow blindly” - said we were opposed for 20 years. The reason is simple, he says – we were limited to 20 partners. We were just opposed that the government would not do a level playing field.

But it is not about the Bombay club (anyone know what that is about?).

There is a full 2006 report by Jetco that laid out the steps, and it’s not 10 years later, says Luthra.

Now, what was your question Raj, he asks, to much laughter from the audience.

18:29: Luthra says: Coming back to the benefits and what we need to do. They think we compete but I don't. We had a chat recently - (at Luthra) doing internal training to build our skills programmes, we do all kinds of exchange programmes with (foreign law firms).

Luthra says they had a Japanese lawyer helping Luthra right now (but not practising law he says, pointedly).

They had a German lawyer for two years who was helping them improve systems and become more efficient, relates Luthra.

Her pet name was Hitler; chuckles in the audience.

Let's start with exchange programmes legitimately, says Luthra.

"It's almost like a marriage - you need to have a courtship (and that's the best part let me tell you)."

If you don't have a courtship, etc, says Luthra, it'll fail - like in Singapore - the entire programme failed 5 or 6 years ago. We can study that, he says, and he's given Pandey a full paper on how the Singaporean model failed.

18:31: RV Anuradha cautions about too thoughtless a process in liberalisation:

We need to capitalise on the opportunity that a trading platform offers.

The blueprint has been around for almost a decade now - it's really a question of how do we prioritise and implement...?

That needs to be done with a lot more deliberation - what is the overall advantage to the country?

We need to balance rights and obligations.

Luthra notes at this point that it was Anuradha who actually drafted the 2006 JetCo document...

18:34: Pratibha Jain notes that there's a lot of talent sitting outside of India because of multiple issues.

There's a lot of talent here, but they don't get the exposure. (internationally). And that is what protectionism does.

Speaking from her experience at Goldman Sachs as GC in India, you spend time translating the Indian law to a global economy not having people to be able to do that for you domestically, she says, because many lawyers don’t have the international experience.

18:38: I understand that we need to have level playing field for Indian firms, says Pratibha Jain, I'm also at an Indian law firm, but the way we're dealing with it is by opening offices in 5 jurisdictions.

(Indeed, that's only really Nishith Desai Associates and a small number of other firms that have bothered going outside of India, though to be fair, all business models are different).

18:40: Devaiah from Everstone Capital grins that he's not regulated by the BCI, so he can say whatever he wants (notwithstanding Rajiv Luthra sitting next to him).

"I don't mean to belittle the domestic guys, but certainly the learning the international guys have is" much superior.

The youngsters here may be very skilled with the law, but that's not enough. They may not have right English writing skills, diplomatic skills, etc.

Foreign law firms will bring that.

Indians are very intelligent, there's no doubt about that.

From that perspective, we'll be very advantaged by foreign law firms bringing that.

18:42: Devaiah says that millenia ago India used to be the world's great hub of learning.

Today in 20th century, we are talking about bringing in foreign law firms to improve our quality. Ironical isn't it? We are all responsible for it. It's not just about bringing in foreign law firms to improve our quality - we also have to keep in mind that inorganic as well.

Look at law colleges in tier 2 or 3 cities, they are the pits. Have you guys seen that? Have you seen the infrastructure these colleges have? Have you seen the teachers? It's very sad.

1000s and 1000s of lawyers are being produced by these colleges.

18:47: Siddharth Raja from Samvad says - bringing a non-Delhi perspective from Bangalore - one issue is that bits of our law firm that will get picked up by foreign law firms - or more realistically, cherry picked and raided by foreign law firms.

But one problem that Indian law firms have and that should be part of the debate of levelling the playing field, says Raja, is that Indian law firm can't even get access to capital from banks or lenders.

If I now had a line of credit, which gave me the ability to leverage some debt - we have toput money away month on month with a buffer.

We have gone twice to banks, including our own clients, and they have refused. Doctors get lines of credit, accountants do - why shouldn't lawyers?

18:49: Jay Krishnan tries to bring the discussion to reciprocity, which he's attempted to do before with Bhasin.

Luthra answers: Why reciprocity seems like such a simple word but is actually very complex.

(under the Advocates Act, foreign lawyers duly qualified, if recognised by the Bar Council, can practice here)

Luthra rightly raises, how does it work for international firms with offices in many countries. How does reciprocity work for them? (do they need to produce reciprocity for each of their countries? )Where is this whole debate?

"We should open? Yes we must open," says Luthra. "But the question is how and under what condititions."

18:51: Luthra says reciprocity should mean visas - for example if I want to set up foreign lawyer practice in UK, I need to pay so many thousands of pounds of professional indemnity insurance. (In India we don't).

Nishith Desai, says Luthra, was kicked out of the US, despite having been going for 16 years. (we of course reported that episode in 2010 - it was quite a cute little story).

“You can't cherry pick - you just want to come here and practice our law. Allow us to the same thing?” exclaims Luthra.

18:59: Sudhanshu Pandey commerce secretary:

The principle of reciprocity is a very complex area, but as such, you can never achieve it.

1. The incorporation requirement, through LLP. How do you incorporate a law firm in India? How much does it cost? And in UK? How much does it cost?

We should be careful to provide for some element of balance, so the incorporate hassles and cost bring you at par.

Recurring costs in different countries (for law firms) are different.

Compared to what it costs in UK, is nothing here. You have to provide almost 5% of turnover as a renewal fee to government [Note, I think Pandey said UK, but I'm not sure that's a legal requriement. Maybe he means insurance?]

Also visas, says Pandey, is an extremely important issue.

Pandey then talks more generally, revealing yet a litlle more about government plans, and says, "we are not looking at this (liberalisation) in a linear fashion - this will only happen when this happens - that is not going to work". “Because economy is getting impatient.”

We have over 60 investment treaties. We have almost 20 preferential and free trade agreements...

It is very complex.

What we have in mind. A couple of things should be done straight away without much thinking, which is largely related to domestic reforms.

The issue of what we say in commerce development, limited advertisement. You build around good regulation.

Then the nature of the law firms. Access to finance. We are not talking of FDI. If you don't have access to finance, then your other partner has access to unlimited finance. Then how do you compete.

And 4., again connected with this, very important, size. Now it is important that we have the size and how it will grow when you do all the three things, I'm sure many Indian law firms would be in the position to scale up without many problems.

India has tremendous powers

It will be tremendous pain in the beginning, but you don't have to wait. You will be in a position to bounce back.

19:06: Krishnan asks whether an amendment of the Advocates Act would be required?

Lalit Bhasin says the BCI draft rules are "one of the most atrocious pieces of drafing I have come across", and if you have to implement it, it will be a disaster.

We don't know who drafted it, says Bhasin.

BCI does not represent the legal profession, it's the regulatory body. It's the licensing authority that gives licenses to lawyers to practice law.

They have suddenly come up with these draft rules. And you are saying amendment? So many amendments would be required if the draft rules would become the actual rules, says Bhasin.

It says law firms could be registered.

Krishnan asks - are you saying, if these rules were passed, would they immediately be challenged in court?

Bhasin says, I don't see reciprocity as a major issue. Reciprocity is inherent and implicit.

Those procedural matters would be taken care of, he says.

[Note, rather interesting - reciprocity used to be a fairly central tenet of the SILF position just a few years ago.]

Phase 2 has been totally discarded in the Bar Council of India's draft rules.

Bhasin raises some sticking points or a wishlist of sorts.

  • income tax implications of LLP conversion,
  • recognition by law firms of BCI,
  • no restrictions placed on the content of websites by BCI, advertising, sponsorship of events
  • ceasing of all surrogate practice of Indian law by various devices, which is rampant. [Bhasin doesn’t elaborate what he means there alas]
  • Websites of various leading foreign firms unabashedly claim legal practices of Indian law, says Bhasin.

“When we are serious when to bring in phase 2, it will not even take a month,” says Bhasin.

(as a reminder, Silf’s Phase 2 envisages limited foreign law firm after phase 1 – ‘level playing field’ has been achieved)

Bhasin: "It is only the Bar Council of India, which has to take all these decisions. Why can't they meet once and take all these decisions? It will take a month and then we'll be in phase 2."

19:11: Pratibha Jain says: "We as lawyers need to figure out, are we, in the interests of protecting our institutions, effecting the Indian economy?"

Speak to clients, and tey will tell you, says Jain, not having the benefit of their trusted advisers... inhibit growth in India?

19:15: There are various websites doing legal news, jokes Luthra [I duly raise my hand at this point for his attention, Luthra smirks], where the reader comments paint Mr Bhasin as a dragon. [due laughter in the audience]

That's not fair, says Luthra, he's not a dragon, but jokes that Bhasin may be draconian. Luthra says that the concerns are legitimate. For example, a foreign lawyer comes to India and their liability is limited.

19:17: So is change possible with only the BCI, or needs amendments? Lalit Bhasin thinks not so much. Whatever SILF has tried with the BCI, he says, "we have always seen that they never turn up".

Laughter.

Raj Kumar interjects - "The chairman of the Bar Council did mention that he's coming, but ..." something something....

19:21: Commerce ministry’s Sudanshu Pandey:

The regulator has to become an independent body which is at arms length from the profession.

It may not happen overnight but that is the only way to go forward.

As long as the conflict of interest is not removed. A neutral objective view can not be taken.

They will rightly try to take their own limited interest, but the regulator has to be independent, and therefore differnet models have come up globally.

Pandey adds:

If you go around Noida Gurgaon, you will see French architects, Singaporean architects (etc designing things).

How is that happening, despite the Indian architecture council being the regulator?

The natural citizenship requirement has to go. But what has to come in place, is a very objective equivalence of education.

Like Indian doctors. They qualify for different examinations.

Our feeling is by opening in this way, you're not going to be flooded by people from outside.

You will be finding it much more convenient to go out. Because MRA (mutual recognition agreements) will become much simpler.

Audience questions

19:30ish: Audience question time. Four or five audience questions come in, ranging from professional indemnity insurance, to career advice from partners, etc.

I thought this would be a good time to bring in our reader’s question in the comments below about young lawyers, which I raised and paraphrased roughly like this:

Asking the managing partners, if we get it wrong, what's the worst scenario for young lawyers, and if we get it right, what's the best scenario for young lawyers?

Second question I asked:

This had been hinted at but not quite answered, to Mr Pandey: Is an amendment of the Advocates Act required for this or not?

Bhasin:

It's only a matter of time when there will be a full opening of the sector.

Young lawyers they will stand to gain, there is no doubt about it. They will definitely stand to gain.It will be a healthy competition between Indian and foreign law firms. and this augurs very well.

Rajiv Luthra joins in:

As part of Kian's answer too (and the many students in the audience). Most places in the world, law is no more a profession. It's a business. So you youngsters have to understand, recently most firms in India we are still a profession.

There's a human touch to it, a family touch to it.

Once you enter corporate sort of systme, you leave the office at 11 o clock. You need to be there at 9 the next day.

You won't get 1000 (?) foreign law firms setting up shop here.

Wherever they have come out (in other countries), it's only been 50, 100 lawyers maximum that are coming.

“Yes, they will cherry pick (our talent) – but we might be happy with losing some good cherry picked people because we will know who are the good ones and bad ones,” Luthra jokes.

Luthra also made a joke about slavery vs employment, but I didn’t quite catch the punchline so I don’t want to ruin it by only half-recounting.

Is an amendment of the Advocates Act required?

Sudhanshu Pandey is unequivocal in his response:

We have studied this (also with Mr Bhasin), to be very honest with you, actually amendment [of the Advocates Act] is not required, government has powers to make changes in the regulations. So even without legislative route, they can make changes in the rules."

Lalit Bhasin, a little later, adds some interesting thoughts:

Mr Pandey is absolutely right, when we started our discussions, till that time we felt amendment was required to the Advocates Act.

But if you have a close look at the draft BCI rules, first you need to amend the Advocates Act. I don't have the time (right now) but I do have the materials with me - that these rules would be inconsistent with some of the provisions of the Advocates Act.

19:39: Luthra is about to say something, then stops himself, then says: "Kian if you quote me, I'll kill you, so this is off the record." Then he says something.

I promised that I wouldn’t reproduce that here.

If anyone wants to know what he talked about, please call me :)

19:45ish: One advocate in the audience says:

At the moment the Bar Council of India is involved in verification rules, so at this point the Bar Council does not know how many members there are.

The Bar Council seems to be totally a mess.

One panellist responds:

This is a very awkward question. They will ask us, what locus do you have to ask us to this?

We can't push them anyway, it is only the government and Mr Pandey that can push them to some extent.

Raj Kumar pipes in that it’s unfair to bully the BCI since the chairman is not here to defend itself, and notes:

It’s very important to note that the Bar Council of India has played a very important role - without it, 20 years ago, NLSIU Bangalore would never have been founded.

One lawyer responds to Kumar and accuses him of making a Freudian slip:

You very rightly said that BCI played [note the past tense] a very important role in regulating.

Someone else pipes up rebutting Raj Kumar: “At that time the Bar Council of India was led by people like Ram Jethmalani.

People of calibre are no longer there. That is not happening now.

Massive applause from the audience for whoever said that. I will check with that person whether whatever they said was on or off the record.

[Update: Everyone wants to be off-the-record with respect to anything BCI related]

19:50ish: Siddharth Raja, thinking out loud:

If reform of the Advocates Act and the BCI is not going to happen in reasonable time, then the liberalisation as laid down in the Bar Council Rules will happen, because it's not linear?

Sudhanshu Pandey responds:

My understanding is - the way government is working - the economy can not address a number of issues that come up every day.

You are moving at a very fast pace on FDI - therefore access to quality legal service, has become a necessity. It can not hold on like this. And therefore it has to change.

19:55ish: Some more audience questions.

Pallavi Saluja from Bar & Bench drops a bit of a bombshell, asking Pandey:

When you talk about opening the discussion, you spoke about communicating with stakeholders is very important, and have 1,200 thousand litigation lawyers.

The [BCI] chairman told me that state bar councils are very upset with the BCI draft rules and trying to put it across to them.

How do you plan to communicate to all these people?

That’s certainly news and quite interesting.

20:03: Will pause coverage for now, there were one or two other things.

Background

Anyone can come, we’ve been told, so do drop by if you’re in Delhi near the Habitat Centre (details below).

And if you can’t make it, please leave questions below in the comments and Kian will try and raise them during the session.

Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman Manan Kumar Mishra will unfortunately not be part of the panel discussion but will only give an inaugural address, but we hope to be able to put any of your questions to most of the others who’ll be there.

I will resume this broadcast at around 5pm.

Here’s some background reading in the meantime for the current state of play around liberalisation:

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