Breaking into the Indian legal market is notoriously difficult, but UK-based Osborne Clarke have signed a deal that meets the tough Indian regulatory rules permitting the “fly in and fly out” provisions.
The Lawyer reports that James Mullock, who heads up Osborne Clarke’s 10-year old India group, emphasises that the two firms’ relationship is non-exclusive. Mara brings long experience with Osborne Clarke, having worked at the firm’s London and Cologne offices between 2009 and February 2014.
The arrangement is similar to the best friends relationship formed in Hong Kong earlier this year, when former Bird & Bird partners Marcus Vass and John Koh set up John Koh & Co and signed an alliance with Osborne Clarke.
But the Indian regulatory landscape is a notoriously difficult one to navigate. Many firms have run into difficulties over the years by falling out with their local best friends, notably Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance. A&O announced a non-exclusive tie-up with Trilegal in 2008 before ditching the relationship in 2012, blaming India’s failure to liberalise the legal market for their problems (27 September 2012).
Clifford Chance tied up with AZB & Co in 2009. The firm’s India practice head Chris Wyman spent several months at AZB’s Mumbai office before the relationship disintegrated due to the lack of liberalisation in 2011 (21 January 2011). Clyde & Co had a deal with ALMT which lasted for two years before the two fell out although a five-partner spin-off, Clasis Law, maintains the relationship (27 April 2011). Other foreign firms have fared somewhat better.
Ashurst was one of the first foreign firms to establish an on-the-ground presence in India, but was forced to shut down its Delhi liaison office in February 2010 due to the country’s tightened regulations. However its relationship with India Law Partners endures.