Commercialization of the legal profession

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Dear Sir,

I read with great interest the Intelligence report on India’s legal market published in the July/August 2008 edition of India Business Law Journal.

At the outset, I must commend the efforts, coverage and the collation of views that are presented in the report.

India is a complex and diversified country with its own rich heritage and customary laws and policies that address intricate social issues affecting the livelihood and economic interests of over a billion people living at all stages of poverty, prosperity and affluence.

Adding to this complexity is the fact that India, at its level of economic development, has consciously adopted legal norms to govern its society and embedded these in its system through its constitutional rights and obligations upon different sections of society to ensure a harmonious development as a democracy.

Since in India by far the vast majority of legal practitioners are individuals it would be equally important to attract the views of some of the very qualified and highly experienced practitioners who have attained leadership in their respective areas of expertise. Indeed the firms in India must also access this valuable resource.

This leads me to the proposition that while structured practices in India are emerging, their true strength will only be realized as Indian firms – or indeed the multinational law firms – are able to attract older and experienced professionals to integrate their practices with that of the firms’.

I am afraid that today the large international law firms, which have become bureaucratic in their administration, are unlikely to attract such talent.

With this conviction I have steered the growth of Dua Associates in a direction which now boasts of 48 experienced partners across eight offices as on date many of whom enjoyed successful individual practices in their respective fields of specialization.

Identifying and soliciting the input of some of these highly qualified and experienced individual practitioners may not be an easy task. However, I believe it is a necessary one to accurately profile the real Indian legal market.

India today is unquestionably one of the larger and the most undervalued legal markets in the world. It is equally true that it also remains one of the most complex markets.

While the financial closure of a particular project is important, we cannot ignore the underlying importance of its compatibility with public policies.

One need not go very far to find examples where major investors have fallen prey to public policy such as the Dabhol power project.

Hence the need for robust local advice with sound understanding of local issues both legal and relating to public policy.

So much for the knowledge of law: What we are observing with great interest is the development of commercial dominance over the profession namely, the impact of legislations such as the Legal Services Act, 2007, of the UK.

Ranji Dua
Partner
Dua Associates
New Delhi

India Business Law Journal welcomes your letters. Please write to the editor at editorial@indilaw.com. Letters may be edited for style, readability and length, but not for substance. Due to quantity of letters we receive, it is not always possible to publish all of them.

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