The year gone by was a big one for the Indian legal market. The market opened to international law firms and disruptive technology-based tools and practices. More lawyers set up specialised firms, and in-house counsel got a lot more sophisticated. Continuous regulatory reforms promised new work as transactional lawyers looked to adapt to a global slowdown and a funding winter. Law firms say that 2024 will bring more investment in in-house capabilities, adoption of technology, focus on new laws like data privacy, and increase of sectoral and business knowledge.
2023 has been a milestone year for the Indian legal market in more ways than one. What are the lessons you take away from the legal practice this year, and how will this affect your strategy in 2024?
Prashant Mara and Ramesh Vaidyanathan, co-managing partners, BTG Adyava
We have seen many companies ramping up their in-house legal teams and restricting (as far as possible) their dependency on outside counsels to only specialised and complex matters. This almost necessitates lawyers not just to have legal knowledge but also sectoral expertise and provide more commercial advice. We anticipate ESG to continue being a big focus across practices, with lawyers having to provide more ESG-proof legal advice to clients. The new set of laws, such as data privacy, the new criminal laws, labour codes, and the regulators (who are increasingly becoming proactive) are likely to keep both corporate coun-sels and private practitioners busy. We also expect a lot of conversation around AI and other emerging tech, as businesses continue to adopt them in their daily operations, pressing the need for regulations around it. Outside counsel will need to engage with commercial, technology and business teams more than ever before to deal with the new and emerging areas of regulation. Equally, outside counsel will need to know the pulse of the regulators on the ground in these areas and make their advice more practical to withstand regulatory scrutiny.
Debanjan Mandal, managing partner, Fox & Mandal
2023 has experienced a swift transformation in the legal market marked by the rise of advanced legal technology, and shifting client demands. Embracing technological investments to enhance efficacy is going to be a must for the year 2024. Further, as the legal landscape evolves, there has been a noticeable surge in the need for niche industry sector knowledge. Our approach for 2024 involves a concentrated effort towards understanding the clients’ business. We are working on achieving this through internal training initiatives such as continuous learning and education programmes built around our clients’ business needs. As part of the strategy for this year, the plan is to integrate technology aimed at enhancing communication and turnaround time for deliverables. As already stated, continuous learning, innovation, adapting legal tech, and client-centricity will be key to navigating the future of legal practice in India.
Vidushpat Singhania, managing partner, Krida Legal
The promotion of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in sports will be a top priority through the establishment of the Centre for Entertainment and Sports Resolution. This centre will play a crucial role in facilitating dispute resolution within the realm of sports. In the gaming sector, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology introduced governance and grievance redressal mechanisms in 2023. A centralised implementation could expand the legal industry’s role from compliance and advisory to dispute resolution. Further, digital platforms’ rise has led to complex contracts in the entertain-ment sector, emphasising the need for clear agreements to avoid disputes. Our focus includes advising on data protection laws, especially regarding user data from digital platforms, anticipating increased emphasis on privacy and regulatory compliance. Staying informed about regulatory changes and assisting clients in navigating challenges will be a key focus in this evolving sector.