Thursday, February 19, 2009

Press Release: Clutch Group Embraces New Law Opening India to Foreign Law Firms

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 17th, 2009) India’s newly enacted Limited Liability Partnership Act permits increased involvement by international law firms in the Indian legal market. Section 59 of the LLP Act allows foreign law firms to establish a place of business within India.

India could become one of the fastest growing legal markets in the world

“Although foreign lawyers still may not practice law in India, the Indian government has taken an essential first step in opening the country’s legal market,.” says Abhi Shah CEO of Clutch Group, a global legal solutions company. “This change will enable foreign law firms to lay the foundation for future offices in India. The LLP Act could transform India’s legal market into one of the fasting growing in the world.”

“Clutch Group helps clients navigate the new landscape”

In Shah’s view, “This legislation has important implications for legal outsourcing companies, and Clutch Group is positioned to benefit as foreign law firms focus on India.” Several of Clutch Group’s more than 50 AmLaw clients have already inquired about how Clutch Group can help navigate the new landscape. Shah says, “There is a bond of trust between Clutch Group and its law firm clients. They rely on us to understand the politics, business and ethics of India as they pursue new opportunities there.”

Clutch Group is broadening its focus to facilitate collaboration between Indian and foreign law firms made possible by the LLP Act. Shah points out that “Clutch Group’s skilled attorney workforce and sophisticated operational infrastructure will provide valuable support as a local partner on the ground for foreign law firms.”

A 1995 court ruling had blocked foreign legal practices

Legal experts say it is too early to assess the full impact of the new government policy. However, it is presumed that additional regulations must be put in place before any foreign law firms establish operations in India.
A 1995 order by the Bombay High Court restrained foreign law firms from setting up shop in India and it remains a controversial issue.
In the early nineties, some international firms had set up ‘liaison offices’ in India. However a lack of clear regulations for foreign attorneys and pressure from their clients to do more legal work here, led to friction with Indian lawyers. This culminated in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) brought by the Lawyers’ Collective. A provisional ruling of the Bombay High Court in 1995 declared that Indian advocates not only had exclusive rights of audience in the Indian courts, but also a monopoly of advising on any law, Indian or foreign, in India. The High Court decision made it clear that establishing a firm for rendering legal assistance and/or for executing documents, negotiations and settlements of documents would certainly amount to practice of law.

About Clutch Group

Clutch Group is a global provider of legal solutions, with expertise in cost-effective litigation document review, compliance, contract management, and legal research services, to Fortune 500 clients and leading global law firms. Clutch Group ranks as the #1 Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) firm worldwide in the 2008 Black Book of Outsourcing and is listed as the top legal outsourcing company by Dun & Bradstreet. Clutch Group's workforce comprises more than 300 attorneys and paralegals across the United States and India. The company is led by a team with legal expertise, extensive domestic and offshore outsourcing experience, and superior law firm management skills