Edge International

Marketing and Branding a Law Firm: The Indian Perspective

Gerry Riskin and Juhi Garg

Lawyers in India must grapple with regulations that greatly restrict their ability to market their services. Accordingly, business development in India must rely on longstanding marketing and branding principles that also apply equally well to non-Indian lawyers.

To appreciate the challenges facing law firm marketers in India today, consider the following March 2010 directive from Ved Prakash Sharma, a member and former chair of the Delhi Bar Council, on the subject of law firm websites.

“If the intention is to attract more and more work and use it for commercial pur- poses or professional enhancement, it is not permitted. Law firms carrying public- ity material on their websites is not permitted. Regulation only allows them to mention if they are involved in civil, criminal or corporate or some other area.”

The Leaping Tiger

Juhi Garg

The ascent of the tiger is no myth: over the last several years, and especially in 2009, India has become one of the world’s most powerful new economic markets.

The figures speak for themselves. Even in the teeth of a worldwide recession, India’s GDP was expected to climb between 6% and 8% in fiscal year 2009. India’s stock markets surged by more than 1,800 points in one month, with at least 30 IPOs in the works by the end of September 2009. Foreign direct investment in the country rose by 55% in July 2009 year over year and was forecast to cross the $30 billion mark by financial year end. India led the world in the number of project finance deals in the first half of 2009.

The impact of these developments on the country’s legal marketplace has been profound. The explosion in the domestic sector has created unprecedented scope for deals, transactions and innovation by India’s legal profession. The legal sector in India has finally come of age: it can no longer be dismissed simply as a destination for supporting backend work. Indian law schools are producing upward of 250,000 law school graduates a year, with many of the top graduates being snapped up by London’s “Magic Circle” and other premier international firms. Some of these lawyers are staying overseas; others later return home to practice in Indian firms. It is unsurprising then that India’s corporate law firms are making waves internationally, with many setting up overseas offices for the first time.