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Reciprocally shut / Issue 64

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter

Indian lawyers planning to qualify as English solicitors were thrown into temporary tizzy this week, as the new Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) came into effect. Under the new rules Indian lawyers will not be allowed to apply to practise in the UK, as India is not included in the list of jurisdictions to benefit from the QLTS.

Fortunately the problem appears to have been a clerical oversight rather than a reciprocal tit-for-tat in the liberalisation negotiations. Apparently the Bar Council of India (BCI) never received the letter its English & Welsh counterpart to be included in the new scheme (granted, neither did New York, Canada or Pakistan, although Zimbabwe’s postal service appears to have been more reliable).

The BCI’s chairman Gopal Subramanium has now pledged to sort out the problem immediately.

Nevertheless, it does mean that Indian lawyers waiting to become an English solicitor could have to wait for weeks or months. That is, if the application process goes smoothly and Her Majesty’s Royal Mail does not lose any letters.

Another memo currently in the in-tray of the Bar Council of India (BCI), is a law ministry proposal to create new rules to regulate Indian law firms. Recognising that the law firm side of the profession differs from the litigation side is important. But has the rapid growth of Indian law firms been a result of a lack of regulation, similar to India’s IT industry?

Luthra & Luthra for one is doing its best to grow the Mumbai office, and this has clearly become its number one priority. Now Luthra has hired a new corporate partner from DSK Legal to fill that traditional chink in its armoury.

The reason is clear: corporate practices in Mumbai offices are fast becoming the backbone of Indian transactional law firms, as Khaitan & Co with AZB bagged the dramatic $217m entry by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries into the Oberoi Hotels group.

Private equity giant Blackstone too is looking Mumbai-way for its legal advisers, while planning $3bn of investments. Desai & Diwanji is the latest firm to enjoy Blackstone’s attentions after Khaitan & Co, having acted on two power sector investments worth $370m.

The latest influx of young lawyers in the profession might just be ready to join in the fun. According to our poll following the publication of the new Indian bar mock exams, over 70 per cent thought they would definitely pass the exam after studying. Indeed, almost a third thought they could pass even without studying, although almost a quarter plan to cram for more than a solid month. Around half intend to study between one and four weeks for the exam. Let’s hope any 2010 batch lawyers ‘practising’ already will be given some leeway by retaining law firms and seniors.

Overall, however, students seemed to have been pleasantly surprised by the mock bar exam, rating its difficulty-level as nearly perfect although they awarded it less than 3 out of 5 points as a fair way of determining entry to the profession.

And finally, if you only read three things this week, let them be the winning blogs in the second round of the Legally India blogging competition. Absolutely brilliant writing across the board as the readers and three judges decided on the funniest, most useful and most well written blog posts over the past six months.

The Legally News Wire
Comment of the week
Blogs of the month
Forum post of the week

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