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July 30, 2009 2:32 PM

Indian Law Firms Crack the Dealmaker Ranks

Posted by Brian Baxter

According to data recently compiled by Dealogic, several Indian law firms surpassed large global practices in rankings of legal advisors on project finance and public-to-private partnership deals that closed in the first half of 2009.

Dealogic's data, according to The Times of India, is evidence that the country's legal profession is gaining on the outsourcing and information technology sector for global recognition.

Indian legal advisers took the top three spots in Dealogic's categories for project finance deals and P3 transactions. (Click here for a more refined look at the Dealogic report, courtesy of Asia Legal Business.)

The Dealogic data shows that in the first half of 2009, Indian firms closed 36 project finance deals valued at $31.9 billion, an increase of 158 percent over the same period last year. Indian firms Luthra & Luthra, India Law Services, and Amarchand & Mangaldas capitalized on the boom in Indian project finance deals to beat out global mainstays like White & Case, Clifford Chance, DLA Piper, and Latham & Watkins.

Luthra & Luthra, a firm based in New Delhi with offices in Mumbai and Bangalore, also took top honors in the P3 category. It was joined by India Law Services and DSK Legal. The three Indian firms enjoyed a 28.2 percent market share of all P3 deals in the first half of 2009, according to Dealogic, vaulting over firms like Allen & Overy and Ashurst.

One notable omission from the list of leading legal advisors is that no local Chinese firms appear in the top 10 in either Dealogic category, even though the report states that Asia was the only region to show an increase in project finance and P3 deals in the first two quarters of this year. (North America, Western and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Africa saw double-digit decreases in deal volume.)

But for the Indian firm atop both the project finance and P3 columns, the declining numbers elsewhere don't diminish the honor of being on top this time.

"This is a valuable recognition for the Indian legal fraternity as a whole," Luthra & Luthra's managing partner Rajiv Luthra told the Times of India. "We hope existing and new law firms will keep the momentum going on the world stage."

Large international law firms have long looked to India in the hope that the country would loosen its restrictions on foreign firms. But the Bar Council of India has resisted calls to liberalize the legal market and open the profession up to foreign lawyers.

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Why should we be surprised that law firms in a closed market will move up in the ranks?

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