Legal markets across the Asia-Pacific region have been liberalized in recent years.  Liberalization of the Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korean and Indian legal markets are all at various stages of development.  India, arguably, is the least liberalized among them.  Member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required to liberalize their legal markets – which is the driving force that has pried open lucrative Asia-Pacific legal markets to foreign competition in recent years.

Last May, India’s Bharatiya Janata Party came back to power after a decade in opposition. Narendra Modi (@NarendraModi), its leader, has become India’s new prime minister.  As Modi and his party are committed to making the country’s economy more business-friendly, including more receptive to foreign investment – will he also open the country’s legal market to foreign competition?

This question and others were posed to one of India’s leading legal journalists, Anuj Agrawal Associate Editor of Bar & Bench (@BarandBench) in an exclusive interview which appears in the recently released book by this author A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets.  We’re highlighting each contributor to the book in a series of articles here in Asia Law Portal.  This article is the 5th in that series.  Here’s a preview of that Anuj Agrawal interview:

Will India’s new government liberalize it’s legal market?

As Agrawal outlined: “The outcome of liberalization is inevitable, but when is the big question. My gut feeling is that it is not going to happen in the next 3-4 years, even with a government that has projected itself to be FDI friendly.”

When will India’s lawyers be permitted to adopt full social media activity, including blogging?

“I certainly do see lawyers using social media in the near future but I wouldn’t be expecting any change in the laws per se.”  Agrawal explaind that “The Bar Council of India’s Chairman said that the regulatory body would be allowing law firms to set up their own web sites. So you could say that there are at least some instances of the sector opening up to new media.”

Where is foreign investment into India providing work for lawyers?

“PE Funds.. healthcare, consumer, e-commerce, entertainment, IT/ITES, education.  Infrastructure has got huge potential but because of various issues including clearances etc, it [has not caught] up in terms of investment.”

How are law students in India faring in the “new global legal normal”?

“There is certainly increasing levels of interest in pursuing non-traditional career options amongst Indian law students but I should clarify that this trend is largely limited to those who have pursued an undergraduate law course. There is an intense amount of of competition to get into a limited number of firms, and I think this is naturally resulting in law grads at least considering non-traditional careers.”

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal and is the author of A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets. He specializes in providing writing, editing, research and strategy services to the corporate and professional services sectors. Between 2002 and 2008, he established and directed the European representative business development office of US AmLaw 100 law and public policy firm Patton Boggs LLP. At the inception of his career, he served as a writer to the President of the United States in the White House. A licensed American lawyer, he holds a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law.

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