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The Indian legal market is centred on the two economic powerhouses of Mumbai and New Delhi, with further legal and economic hubs to be found in the ‘silicon plateau’ of Bangalore and, to a lesser extent, in Chennai, Kolkata and other cities such as Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Despite being a vital emerging market and appearing at the vanguard of the BRIC economies, the Indian economy has performed relatively poorly over the past year. This slowdown has caused capital markets and other transactional activity to grow stagnant, resulting in diminished corporate legal activity. Furthermore, foreign investors are often discouraged by the difficulties of the Indian regulatory system. Competition law is becoming increasingly important and several firms are looking to develop their practices in that sector.
The largest outfits in the market receive recurring praise. Among these, Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co, Khaitan & Co., AZB & Partners, J Sagar Associates, and Luthra & Luthra are all prominent players. Additionally, several firms have developed particular niches, including New Delhi’s Karanjawala and Company, for its dispute resolution capibility, and Nishith Desai Associates, for tax.
Although the legal market saw few major shakeups in 2012, one notable major development was the dissolution of FoxMandal Little. It remains to be seen how the new entity of Fox Mandal will perform, and if it will be able to retain the reputation of what was one of the oldest and most highly respected legal firms in India.
Foreign firms continue to be excluded from the Indian legal market. Nevertheless, foreign firms do focus on India, many from teams based in their Singapore offices. Several firms have also entered into ‘best friend’ relationships with Indian firms, such as Allen & Overy LLP, which has links to Trilegal, and Linklaters LLP, which has a relationship with Talwar Thakore & Associates.