According to the Financial Times (Apr-23), international law firms, including DLA Piper, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Baker McKenzie, are considering opening offices in India following a recent rule change by the Bar Council of India.
Foreign legal firms will now be permitted to set up in the country to advise clients on the international aspects of mergers and acquisitions, as well as act as arbitrators, among other things.
While the most significant progress for the Indian market in a long time, the rules do not allow foreign lawyers to advise on local law or appear in Indian courts. Members of the Society of Indian Law Firms have raised concerns about how the proposed “level playing field” would work.
Some Indian specialist partners at international firms said they would wait for further clarification from the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council of India in the coming months.
The UK-India free trade agreement discussions were the trigger for the reform. While incumbents have a home advantage as they are much cheaper, international firms are still exploring their options.