Bar Council allows foreign lawyers to practice corporate work in India

This decision opens up India’s legal services market to global players in areas such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and intellectual property matters.

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has permitted registered foreign law firms and lawyers to practice transactional or corporate legal work in the country on a reciprocal basis. This decision opens up India’s legal services market to global players in areas such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and intellectual property matters.

The BCI’s move comes after years of deliberation and pressure from international law firms and bodies keen to tap into the lucrative Indian market. It addresses longstanding demands for increased market access and reciprocity for Indian law firms operating abroad.

Under the new rules, foreign lawyers and firms will be allowed to render professional services in practice areas like corporate law, tax advisory services, and intellectual property rights on the condition that their home countries offer similar opportunities to Indian lawyers and firms.

However, the BCI has maintained restrictions on foreign lawyers’ participation in non-corporate domains like litigation, conveyancing, and other branches of legal practice traditionally reserved for Indian advocates.

The decision has been lauded by global law firms that have long sought to establish a foothold in India’s rapidly expanding corporate landscape. Legal experts believe it will enhance competition, promote knowledge-sharing, and enable Indian companies to access top-tier global legal expertise more seamlessly.

At the same time, some sections of the Indian legal fraternity have voiced concerns about potential job losses and erosion of opportunities for domestic lawyers amid increased foreign competition.

As India emerges as an attractive investment destination, the move to liberalize legal services is expected to bolster the country’s ability to facilitate cross-border transactions and navigate complex international regulatory regimes.