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Attorney general KK Venugopal: Allowing foreign lawyers in Indian lawyers’ interest, banning them is ‘an impediment and we have to realise it’

Attorney general KK Venugopal spoke at an event late last month about foreign lawyers in India, according to the Times of India:

Someway or the other I think the Bar Council of India has not been looking at it with the same amount of concern which other nations have.

But India is not permitting them. They (foreign investors) are having joint ventures, bidding for projects. But we don’t allow this foreign legal consultancy.

This is an impediment and we have to realise it. The matter came up before the Supreme Court recently and the Supreme Court said that the maximum that can be permitted is for them to fly in and fly out.

If you have to attract foreign investors they have to have legal consultants of their choice. Law firm should realise that this is in their interest, foreign lawyers coming in and addressing their own clients.


International arbitrations require a totally different approach. Why is that India has not been able to be a successful centre for arbitration? The Singapore International Arbitration Centre are a busy centre of arbitration. And you will be surprised to know that a very large number of these cases are Indian cases, where the Indian government is involved.

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Like +1 Object -3 why allow ? 06 Apr 18, 11:43
Lets cut the BS.

The "only" reason foreign law firms are not allowed is because the powers that be make easy money in a non-competitive manner.

Why will someone hire the top law firms here in India when they could hire top world firms?
Why will some of the top lawyers work with these top law firms, if they have an option to work with international law firms.

You allow foreign law firms - Indian lala firms die. plain and simple.

lalaji are the powers that be. or close to the powers that be. hence the objection.

Not one lawyer, except the owners would object to the foreign law firm entry.
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Like +1 Object -0 kianganz 06 Apr 18, 11:47 LI subscriber
You are essentially right, but I don't think the foreign law firms would disappear overnight or even by tomorrow.

Reasons for clients to keep using Indian law firms could very likely include factors like:

- cost,

- existing relationships,

- nationalism,

- much top talent, such as Shroffs, Zias, etc that will remain with Desi firms.
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Like +1 Object -3 why allow ? 06 Apr 18, 14:34
This is a hypohetical debate. because only lalaji(s) death would result in foreign law firm being allowed in.

Be that as it may, let me counter your points

All major services firm operating in India have a different cost structure for Indian Market.
big 4 accounting firms do not charge the same as their gora counterparts.
big 3 consulting firms do not charge the same as elsewhere.

so obviously, the cost structure would be different. they have to be. even if this is not the case initially, foreign firms will have to realize that they can either have a cost structure that either same as their domestic work. or reduce billable to break market.

Are they going to reduce it to the extent that a local district court lawyer needs to be worrried ? No.
But the tier 1 definitely need to be worried.

existing relationships:
These are not based on competitive reasons. they were based on lack of options. once the options / alternates are there. there would be some dent.
Would you continue to bank with syndicate bank/ Canara bank because you had an "existing relationship" even though in the market you have the option to approach Citibank/Stan Chart ?

There are those who still bank with traditional Indian banks for various reasons. But not having an option is different from having an option and choosing desi.

Lalaji says let the Indians not have that choice. because .. I want all the money for myself.

Nationalism :

Really ?
Would you buy an Indian TV/ Indian anything over a product that is percieved to be superior
to desi ?
Why would it be different for legal services ?

The only place nationalism plays a role, is when a consumer sees value in the offering. eg.patanjali. - but there too its because of percieved better value over other toothpaste/ soap.
point being: consumers value value. Not nationalism.

and thats not just here in India. no one takes a service anywhere worldwide, because the service provider is of the same country as service taker. Its always what is the value.

Top talent remains with desi firms:

How would you know that Kian.
They couldn't even keep their flock together when AMSS = CAM + SAM. and thats just two firms. what do you think will happen. when there is an onslaught of AMLAW 200 or from UK or even other smaller law firms or from law practice elsewhere ?

Do you really think some Goras would come all the way from US/ UK leave everything behind to start a new life/ literally a new career here ?

And from experience I can tell you. foreigners don't understand Indian market. maybe 1% would be indophiles. rest would want to just supervise and say, lets have an Indian presence. Indian version would be run by Indians.

law is a sensitive subject. interaction would be with the locals. Hence there would be local hirings. ergo : the loyalty that you are talking about will fall. It has to.

And honestly, where do you get Indians are loyal ? loyal to what ? being subservient to lala ? come on...

India is the only place where a "partner" is not always equity. I don't remember the concept of a salaried partner in the Partnership act.
(I personally find this abhorring. )

Foreign law firms would not be filled by foreigners. They would be filled by Indians. working for foreign law firms.
This means more competition for talent. better working conditions. fairer competition. and death knell for lala firms.

Hence never happening.
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Like +1 Object -0 kianganz 06 Apr 18, 15:04 LI subscriber
Thanks, some good points.

Some clarification - I think cost structure, the top foreign firms will always be slightly more expensive than top desi firms.

Existing relationships: When you have the Uday Kotaks who went to school with Cyril, Adanis who married into the Shroff family, etc, those relationships won't just go out of the window.

Re talent - I literally meant the Shroffs, Zias and other founding partners who are unlikely to join a foreign firm. So long as they stay independent, there'll be some perceived value for promoters to go to the firm they're with, until the younger generation starts catching up in terms of their brand value.

That said, I don't disagree in principle - the desi firms will lose out a bit. But I don't think it'll be a bloodbath...
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Like +1 Object -1 Icepack 24 Apr 18, 20:18
C'mon, the 'talent' that you refer to lost the touch decade ago. Today, either of the three 'talent' referred by you cannot single handedly (without able assistance) draft a SPA properly.

Kian: Your guarded response to admit the obvious raises suspicion!

Be assured there won't be any 'bloodbath', that's a term for equals..whilst coming in of foreign law firms - the real talent will get swept away overnight. It is this fear that they keep lobbying with a front of Bhasin's SILF Selfish Indian Law Firms.

BS on reciprocity: any law firms incl. INDIAN CAN OPEN A SHOP IN LONDON OR NEW YORK. THE SO CALLED OLD SHEEP - 'TALENT' SOMEHOW HAS MASTERED art of HOW to spread white Lies and Fool Modi Government time and again.
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