India opens its doors to international law firms

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Could secondment opportunities follow?

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has given international law firms the go-ahead to practice foreign law in the country.

The new rules will allow BCI registered solicitors and other foreign lawyers to practice English, Welsh and international law in non-contentious matters and represent clients outside of India in international arbitration matters within the country.

International firms that register with the BCI will also be able to open offices to provide these services and access legal expertise relating to Indian laws from advocates enrolled with any Indian State Bar Council.

There are limits to the changes, which will not extend to litigation before courts and tribunals in India and only allow international transactional work on a reciprocal basis.

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India has one of the biggest legal markets in the world and the move could create exciting new international secondment opportunities for trainees whose firms set up offices in the country.

The loosening of strict protectionist rules that prevent anyone but Indian citizens from practising law in the country has been hotly debated over the last 20 years. But until now many international firms have worked around the issue by running their India practices out of other countries or through tie-ups with local outfits.

Commenting on the long-awaited approval, Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: “The Bar Council of India’s decision is a significant step forward in this long-standing issue and will create huge opportunities for solicitors and Indian advocates in both countries.”

India is not the only country relaxing rules on foreign firms practising within their boundaries. Saudi Arabia recently granted Clifford Chance, Dentons, Herbert Smith Freehills and Latham & Watkins the first three licences to practise law there as foreign firms.

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Hooray! This is being very much progress.

India is one of the oldest Common Law jurisdictions in the world, having been part of the British Empire for many years and therefore having evolved a respected attitude to democracy and the rule of law that have carried on since beyond independence.

It is very much hoped that this progress will continue by the opening up of the legal markets here.


A Brother

Is your first paragraph entirely tongue in cheek?



Democracy gtfo?!? You seen what’s going on in Punjab!



This entire comment reads like a farcical joke. You can’t be serious.


Unpopular Opinion Penguin

“Saudi Arabia recently granted Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills and Latham & Watkins the first three licences to practice law there as foreign firms.”

So… at least we now know that those firms are happy to do business with a regime that denies women even basic human rights and chops off people’s heads and hands as judicial punishments.

Money talks, I suppose…


Mr Popper

Yes, it does seem to imply all their diversity and inclusion talk is vacuous PR puff and chasing dollars is their main moral principle.



If ‘human rights’ matter so much to you, would you be willing to give up your TC/pupillage to go and fight in Saudi Arabia for Saudi womens’ rights?

Chasing dollars isn’t just something law firms do.


Pillock Finder General

Straw man argument.

Bad form.

Back to school.


People (law students) seem only to remember the names of fallacies, not their operation

It isn’t a straw man argument. You choose to work at firms that do business with clients such as those alluded to above. It’s not a genuine belief you could saddle up to the Gulf and start defending rights, it’s just exhibitive of the same “selling out” that is done by the lawyers constituent of said firms.



It is very clearly a strawman, you’re the one who doesn’t understand the definition


yeah and those punishments leads to one of the lowest crime rates in the world. look at the state of London, criminals arent scared. If you ever go to Saudi Arabia, you’ll see people leave their shops open when it’s time to go pray, because they know nothings gonna happen.


Ann Historiann


Of course England was a crime-free utopia wasn’t it back in the 18th century when we had a Criminal
justice System that was just as bloodthirsty as the Saudi’s is now… wasn’t it?


Mr Saud

🧔🏽‍♀️✋ 🪓 = Utopia.


Reality cheque

Meanwhile many Indian lawyers are coming to the UK for the £££.


Reality Chess

Senior Associate at a Tier 1 law firm (5 PQE which converts to 3PQE in UK because there’s no concept of TC there).

Average POST TAX income: £40000 a year.
Average cost of living per annum: £10000
Savings: £30000

3PQE Associate at MC

Average POST TAX income: £80000
Average cost of living in London per annum (alot of assumptions here but comparing lifestyles in India when I say this): £48000
Savings: £32000

There isn’t all that much difference from a financial standpoint.



Middle Class lifestyles in India are comparable to those in the UK but the cost of such a lifestyle is considerably lower.



As someone from India working in London now, the London COL does not hold up; I think the latest minimum income calculator said 36k was good enough. Moreover, looking at how expensive things are in India now, 10L will get you only a decent life. Obviously, the UK also has stuff like free healthcare and a better quality of life that we are not considering.


Reality Chess

Agree lifestyle being cheaper in India but what you would have saved in India is forgone in UK tax and NI.



Will be interesting to see how firms with big India practices will react to this. A few international firms base India practices (mostly capital markets and M


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