India: Foreign law firms may get trial run

November 16, 2007 Foreign law firms may soon get a toehold in India, enabling them to gradually tap the booming market here for legal business. The government plans to open up legal services in phases, slowly overcoming resistance from Indian lawyers.

In the first phase, foreign law firms will be allowed to advise clients on laws in other countries. This could involve consultancy to Indian firms taking up business or sourcing funds from other countries. This window will also allow foreign law firms to advise multinationals working in India on legal implications in various countries on account of developments taking place in India. In the next stage, overseas law firms will be allowed to forge partnerships with Indian firms. Such joint ventures may provide consultancy services to Indian clients on issues pertaining to Indian law, but foreigners will not be allowed to appear before courts.

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