MUMBAI: There seems no slowdown in the business of law as the country’s legal sector has increased its fee income by more than 62% in two years at $2.1 billion, or about Rs 15,000 crore, a recent report shows. A slew of cases involving litigation on account of new laws such as Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and the implementation of goods and service tax (GST) regime, together with robust dealmaking by India Inc, helped fill the coffers of law firms, according to London-based RSG Consulting that tracks legal markets.
“The Indian sector is dynamic… It is beginning to fulfil its potential to become one of the most important legal markets in the world,” said Reena Sengupta, chief executive at RSG Consulting. The research firm publishes a report ranking Indian law firms based on number of deals, client feedback and practice areas among other things every alternate year.
The estimated value of the corporate legal market — which includes approximately 100 top corporate law firms in the country plus India practices of foreign law firms – was worth $2.1 billion in FY19, up from $1.3 billion in FY17, according to its latest report released on Tuesday. Zia Mody-cofounded AZB & Partners tops the ranking, followed by Khaitan & Co, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM & Co) and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM).
The sector’s revenues, profits and headcount are all rising more than 20% a year,” Sengupta said. “The number of returning Indian lawyers who have practised abroad shows the dynamism of the Indian legal market,” she said. Local law firms are modernising themselves to keep the growth momentum by adopting technologies, software and hiring non-legal support staff, the RSG report said. Managing partners of the top 50 domestic law firms have increased their revenues by 22% and profitability by 27% in two years, it said.
Approximately two-thirds of the legal sector’s earnings, or about $1.4 billion, in FY19 came from Indian corporate clients, with about $700 million from foreign companies doing business in the country. The sector has improved client satisfaction in terms of timelines, availability and conflicts, but their satisfaction with the quality of junior associates has fallen by 6%, the report said. It estimates that firms earn around $670 million collectively from contentious work including litigation and arbitration advisories.
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