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Semi-global / Issue 45

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter
Few things showcase the globalisation of India's legal industry more than this week's volcano eruption in Iceland, which kept at least three Indian managing partners best known by their first names out of India and stuck in New York.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai firangs were in sparse attendance at a conference last weekend and at least one UK lawyer in town on business (but obviously not practising law) had booked planes to Istanbul and Rome to then catch a train back to London.

Seemingly unrelated to Europe was this week's surprise announcement of the most radical shake-up of Indian legal education since the first National Law School was created in the late eighties. 

Law minister Veerappa Moily wants three separate streams of LLB degrees, one of which will focus on transactional lawyering, while two other programmes will target bench and bar, and public service apirants respectively. Furthermore, the Government wants to standardise the syllabuses and entrance exams of every law school in India, as well as create a one-year LLM.

The proposals are revolutionary and if successful would have positive effects on the legal profession.

But Moily's reform announcement was almost foreshadowed a week earlier by the newly elected Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam.

In Legally India's exclusive first interview with Subramaniam as BCI chairman he explains in detail why he wants to introduce a bar exam and continuing legal education in India - two more very sound ideas.

But perhaps even more interesting is how all this ties into liberalisation, providing that horse has not yet been flogged to death by debate.

Moily (at the recent press conference and numerous other occasions), Subramaniam (in the second part of our interview on foreign law firms) and countless others have repeated the same lines: the Indian legal industry needs to be stronger before it can compete with foreign players.

'Modernisation before liberalisation' is now arguably as close as it gets to official Law Ministry policy on the issue, hoping to create a vibrant and independent domestic legal market.

Whatever anyone else may say, until this unofficial Government policy changes, few individuals in positions of power will have any reason to waste their energy in promoting the entry of foreign firms.

Reform of legal education is then in turn a necessary first step in globalising India Law Pvt Ltd and in turn to full legal market liberalisation, at which point the reciprocity fig leaf would also magically disappear.

To urgent liberalisers of course, this will sound like a glass half-empty.

Elsewhere in education: CLAT taker figures this year increased by 15 per cent, while NLS Bangalore missed the opportunity to defend its Space Moot title by a whisker and NUJS continued its late return to form in the Mooting Premier League sponsored by Clifford Chance.

Law firm promotion activity continued heavily, as JSA made up five new partners and 16 senior associates, while start-up Bharucha & Partners has doubled the size of its senior associate base in one swoop.

And elsewhere in Mumbai three other young start-ups came together and merged into V Law Partners, while legal process outsourcing (LPO) company Pangea3 has added 50 per cent in its Mumbai office space after a record turnover year.

Finally, in the world of deals volcano-ash ridden London was shaken this week by the energy arm of Indian industry giant Essar, which plans to hit the FTSE 100 with the largest London IPO in four years.

Legal advisers on both sides of the Advocates Act fence
are clearly reaping rewards from globalisation.

Maybe for some the glass is half-full already.

Legal Pulse:
The Competition Commission of India is duking it out in the Supreme Court for dominance with its own appeals body, while the new Copyright Bill may not be as right as was hoped.

Blogging competition
We are still seeking kind organisations in the writing or legal space that can offer internships as additional prizes to some of our fabulous bloggers. Please contact for more on how you can help support more great legal writing.

Nandiireywal demystifies every legal exam that matters and argues that the QLTT is designed to ensure even the most dim-witted pass with flying colours.

LegalPoet tells his touching, humourous and highly personal journey of law, writing and a hint of destiny.

Danishsheikh explores the innate connection between law and poetry and while drafting in a near-Coleridgian delirium.

Finally, new blogger John2010 gets off to a very impressive start with posts tackling the taboo issue of the black dog of depression on law school campuses and the need for inspired campus careers counsellors.

Comment of the week
Excerpt from a persuasive and considered counter-argument to unfettered liberalisation: "Some Indian lawyers argue vehmently in favour of entry of foreign law firms without understanding [...] the long term implications. i can only say their minds are neo-colonized [...]."

Forum discussion of the week
Oranjus asks a sensible question: why don't we have greater law school co-operation?

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