Focus On Talent To Prepare For The Entry Of Foreign Law Firms, Says Harvard Law’s Wilkins
“The quality of Indian law firms and Indian lawyers at the top of the market is as good as anywhere in the world. That is an important point to emphasise,” said David Wilkins, professor of law at Harvard Law School.
Wilkins was making the point that India’s legal sector is ready for the entry of foreign law firms, in a phased manner. A move that has been contemplated by a succession of Indian governments over the years and continues to be an imminent possibility.
Indian law firms will have to fight their foreign counterparts harder over talent than clients, Wilkins added.
It’s not so much for the competition for clients because they will not readily pay the fees. They don’t like to pay Indian lawyer fees. But it could be for talent which can be a challenge for many Indian law firms but could be a strength. Right now, Indian law firms are losing terrific talent and people leave India (to work in foreign firms). Here, you will capture more talent inside India and there will be pressure on Indian law firms to better train and develop the talent that they have.David Wilkins, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
The Harvard Law School - Center on the Legal Profession, of which Wilkins is the faculty director, has recently completed a six-year-long study on the impact of globalisation on India’s legal profession. The book tracks the rise of India’s corporate legal sector and its impact on the economy and society.
In an interview with BloombergQuint, Wilkins explained what prompted this detailed study.
“Lawyers play an increasingly important role in the social, cultural and political development of the country. It is a coincidence that we are publishing this book in 2017 when India competed 70 years since independence. The critical persons for the formation of this country were lawyers like Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah in Pakistan. Lawyers played a critical role in India. But, for a while, the role was diminished.
But it is becoming more important for a few reasons. One is, the economy is being much more legalised. The way the economy is developing, for laws of competition, new corporate law, security law, privacy - which is becoming a huge issue in India. Or the relationship between India and the global economy like WTO law, trade law, bilateral investment treaties, the way in which India’s great companies are moving around the world where they are subject to an increase in legal regulation. Just on economic structures, lawyers are increasingly important.
Let’s look at civil society, human rights, political rights, criminal rights, access to justice. Those features are increasingly legalised. The access to law and lawyers is important. All parts of Indian society are becoming legalised, then what lawyers do, who they are, who they deliver their services to, how are they educationally trained, is important for the entire society.”
Watch Menaka Doshi in conversation with David Wilkins: