The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization

At major events in India, the Center on the Legal Profession shares research on Globalization, Lawyers, and Emerging Economies

In December, the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession (CLP) hosted two major events in India to celebrate the publication of “The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization: The Rise of the Corporate Legal Sector and its Impact on Lawyers and Society.”

Indian Legal Profession book coverThe book is the product of the Center’s project on Globalization, Lawyers, and Emerging Economies. GLEE examines how globalization is reshaping the market for legal services in important emerging economies, such as India, Brazil, and China, and how these developments are contributing to the transformation of the political economy in these countries and the reshaping of the global legal services market.

Edited by Harvard Law School Professor David B. Wilkins ’80, University of Michigan Professor Vikramaditya S. Khanna S.J.D. ’97 and David M. Trubek, Center on the Legal Profession Senior Research Fellow and Voss-Bascom Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the book offers the first comprehensive analysis of the impact on globalization on the Indian legal profession. It was published in May 2017 by Cambridge University Press.

Wilkins, vice dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession and faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, said: “One of the things that we promised when we were doing the research, was that when the book was published we would return to India and share our findings with key members of the Indian legal community. We not only shared the findings of the book, but we also engaged these leading lawyers or policymakers in a conversation about the future of the Indian legal profession and how understanding its history is an important stepping stone or building block to understanding where the Indian legal profession and India itself is headed in the coming decades. We also had a chance to present the book to India’s minister of law and justice as well as his three top deputies, a reflection of the importance that the legal profession has within the country.”

David Wilkins on globalization, lawyers and emerging economies

Read more on how Globalization Lawyers and Emerging Economies (GLEE) is structured, what questions it aims to answer, recent research, and what lies ahead.

David Wilkins on globalization, lawyers and emerging economies

While the Center currently has projects up and running in India, China, and Brazil, and will soon launch in Africa, GLEE began its research in India, according to Wilkins, because they felt that India was the most important, least studied legal market in the world at that time. “We wanted to understand how India’s opening up to the world, which happened around 1991, impacted the development of the country’s emerging new corporate legal sector,” said Wilkins.

Mark Wu, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, David Wilkins, C. Raj Kumar

(From left) Prof. Mark Wu; Pratap Bhanu Mehta, vice chancellor of Ashoka University; Prof. David Wilkins ’80; and Prof. C. Raj Kumar LL.M. ’00

Co-editor of the “The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization” Vikramaditya Khanna S.J.D. ’95 stresses that India’s status as the largest and fastest-growing emerging market in the world, particularly in regards to its development, democracy, diversity and demography, makes it one of the most fascinating and exciting countries to explore—and why we all should care about its future development.

This past December, researchers from the GLEE India Team spent almost two weeks in India hosting a series of events in Mumbai and Delhi that attracted more an 1,000 leading lawyers, policy makers, judges, law students and academics.

P.P. Chaudhary and David Wilkins

Credit: The Jindal Global Law School David Wilkins ’80 with P.P. Chaudhary, Union Minister of State for Law and Justice and Corporate Affairs

The events featured a number of  keynote talks, including by Wilkins and Khanna, and panel discussions with Harvard Law School faculty, alumni, and leading Indian lawyers.  The events were conducted in collaboration with a number of Harvard organizations, including the Lakshmi Mittal South Asian Initiative, the Harvard Business School’s India Research Center, and the Harvard Club of India.

Recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster J.D./M.P.P. ’79 offered welcoming remarks on the importance of United States-India relations to 100 guests at a VIP dinner at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, on Dec. 15.  Juster previously served as deputy director of the National Economic Council in the Trump Administration and as the deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs.

At the Delhi showcase event, “The Corporate Legal Sector’s Impact on India,” held on Dec. 15, Indian Supreme Court Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud LL.M. ’83 S.J.D. ’86 delivered a keynote address on the future of the Indian legal profession.

Hon. Dr. Justice Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud LL.M. ’83 S.J.D. ’86

Kenneth Juster J.D./M.P.P. ’79, United States Ambassador to India, with Harvard Law School Professor David Wilkins ’80

lighting of the lamp

Vikramaditya Khanna S.J.D. ’97 (left) and David Wilkins ’80 (right) participate in the lighting of the lamp with Fali Sam Nariman, one of India’s most distinguished constitutional lawyers who has been a senior advocate to the Supreme Court of India since 1971 and has remained the President of the Bar Association of India since 1991. His son, Rohinton Fali Nariman LL.M. ’81 is currently a justice on the Supreme Court of India.

In addition to Justice Chandrachud’s keynote, the Delhi showcase included welcoming remarks from Fali Sam Nariman, a senior advocate and one of India’s most respected lawyers, and a panel discussion with Flavia Agnes, co-founder of MAJLIS, Bharat Vasani, legal advisor to the chairman and former general counsel of Tata Sons, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, vice-chancellor of Ashoka University, and Pinky Anand, senior advocate to the Supreme Court of India.

At the Center’s Mumbai showcase, a panel of managing partners and general counsel discussed the rise of the corporate legal sector in India–the overarching theme of the events in the city. The panel included Zia Mody ’79, founding partner, AZB & Partners; Cyril Shroff, managing partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; Karan Singh, co-founding partner, Trilegal; Dev Bajpai, executive director of legal and company secretary, Hindustan Unilever; Naveen Raju, group general counsel and executive vice president, Mahindra & Mahindra; and Fred Headon, assistant general counsel, Air Canada and past president, Canadian Bar Association.

corporate legal sector panel

In Mumbai, a panel of managing partners and general counsel law firm discussed the rise of the corporate legal sector in India.

In addition to public showcase events in Delhi and Mumbai, the Center also hosted more in-depth symposia in each city. At the Delhi symposium, panel topics included: Regulation, Trade, and Foreign Competition, Changes in Indian Legal Education, and the Role of Lawyers in the Indian State. Presenters included, Harvard Law School Professor Mark Wu, James Nedumpara, a professor at Jindal Global Law School, Tanya Aggarwal LL.M. ’12, a partner at S&R Associates, C. Raj Kumar ’00, vice chancellor of Jindal Global University, Swethaa Ballakrishnen LL.M. ’08, a post-doctoral fellow at New York University, Ashwani Kumar, former Indian minister of law and justice, Rajeev Kher, former Indian commerce minister, and Nick Robinson, affiliate fellow of the Center on the Legal Profession.

In Mumbai, symposium panel topics included: The Growth of the Corporate Core: Law firms and In-House Counsel, New—and—Old Actors in the Corporate Core, and South-South Relations: India and the BRICS. Presenters included, Umakanth Varottil, a professor at the National University of Singapore, Pramond Rao, the general counsel of Citibank India, Ravi Kulkarni, senior partner of Khaitan & Co., and Jayanth Krishnan, a professor at Indiana University Mauer School of Law.

Commenting about the book and the events, Wilkins said: “Over the past years, I have visited India on numerous occasions, and each time I have met and learned from countless Indian lawyers. At Harvard Law School, I have taught many more.”

He added, “Our book and these events are a testament to the role that India’s lawyers have played and will continue to play in India and the world.”