India's top law firms are turning to blue-chip management consultancies such as McKinsey & Co. in an effort to modernize their business models, as interest in the much-coveted legal market continues to grow.
Boston Consulting Group recently concluded a strategic review of India's largest law firm, Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co., which has seen it set out plans to double in size over the next five years to reach a lawyer headcount of around 1,000 and turnover of $203 million (£129 million).
Amarchand is also planning to launch its first overseas office, with sources indicating that London and Singapore are both under consideration.
The Boston-led review has also led to the Shroff founding family's stake in the firm being further cut back, a process that started in 1995. The firm's intention is to reduce the family's stake to between 40 percent and 50 percent by 2017.
Amarchand Mumbai managing partner Cyril Shroff commented: "Our ambition is to be the largest and most professional law firm in India and this requires changes to our internal structures. The founding family will never exit the firm completely; there is a non-family component, but we will continue to be influential."
Meanwhile, Delhi's Luthra & Luthra has instructed McKinsey to advise it on bringing in a modified lockstep structure, a process which is set to be completed by the summer.
The high-profile consultancy is also helping Luthra to implement plans to double its lawyer numbers to 500 over a three-year period and to introduce up-to-date knowledge management systems.
Elsewhere, Trilegal is working with U.K. legal consultancy RSG, which has in recent years made significant inroads into the Indian legal market and works with a number of local law firms.
Trilegal, which has had an exclusive alliance with Allen & Overy since 2008, is consulting on whether to phase out its salaried partner rank.
Trilegal founding partner Sridhar Gorthi commented: "Hiring consultants is certainly a trend in India and a firm's choice of consultant is usually an indication of its motivation for doing so. Some firms want to demonstrate to the market that they are modernizing by introducing transparent management systems."
The news comes amid a wider trend among Indian law firms to decentralize management, with several law firm founders and senior figures set to retire.
The Indian legal market has demonstrated robust year-on-year growth since economic liberalization kicked off in the 1990s. RSG research indicates that the market is currently worth in the region of $800 million (£502 million), a figure which is set to pass $1 billion (£627 million) by 2015.
Despite international law firms remaining banned from opening local offices, it is estimated that half of the top 100 Indian companies' legal spend goes to foreign advisers.
The Madras high court recently confirmed that international law firms should not be prevented from visiting on a "fly-in, fly-out" basis to advise clients on foreign law.