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Legal Market Overview

The potential opening up of India’s legal market to foreign firms was a major talking point of 2016; the government has been increasingly throwing its weight behind liberalisation, initiating discussions with legal profession regulators and various government departments, including the Bar Council of India, to discuss legislation and draft rules. Law firms are optimistic that such a move could potentially kick-start a strong flow of investment, thus increasing demand for banking, corporate and capital markets advice.

The dispute resolution space saw a number of regulatory changes; most notably, reforms to the Arbitration Act, which aimed to establish strict timeframes for the resolution of disputes, thus expediting the process and bringing it closer to global standards. A similar trend was observed in the intellectual property arena; 400 new examiners were added to the Patent Office over 2016, a move aimed at helping to clear the backlog of patent application and prosecution filings. A new IP policy was also implemented in 2016, which emphasises IP as a profitable financial asset and encourages widespread protection and enforcement of IP rights.

The power, energy, media and telecoms sectors have all seen significant activity. The government is investing heavily in renewable energy, with the resulting effect that advice on solar power-related projects is in high demand. India’s population is increasingly technology proficient and there has been an increased interest from investors and developers alike in mobile and internet technology. The market is also home to an increasing number of start-ups and joint ventures, a trend that is expected to continue into 2017.

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas continue to be significant players in the legal market following their split from the now-defunct Amarchand & Suresh A Shroff & Co. Other key firms include AZB & Partners, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, Trilegal and Khaitan & Co..

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