Channel: 360o from the top

  • Interview with Zia Mody, Co-founder and Sr. Partner AZB & Partners
    Thursday, October 07, 2010

    The state of Legal industry in India and economic linkages with the UK
    Zia Mody, Co-founder and Sr. Partner AZB & Partners.
     
    This week we speak with Zia Mody who is the co-founder of AZB & Partners, one of the top law firms in India. Zia studied law at Cambridge University and then went on to complete her Masters from Harvard Law School. After qualifying as an attorney in the state of New York,she worked with Baker & McKenzie and returned to India to start her own practice in 1984. She very recently was awarded the Business Woman of the Year by Economic Times in India.
     
    On the Legal Industry in India
     
    Q1. How would you describe the state of legal industry in India?
    It would be a comparative response looking at where Indian legal industry has got to in the last 10-15 years and what more it must achieve going forward.
     
    The industry today is very much a main stream profession attracting highly educated, IT savvy and smart people. Today a young entrant to the industry sees it as a highly intellectual career that is knowledge driven; has a strong international flavour; much higher earning potential and ample career shaping choices. There is no dearth of opportunities for a lawyer who may choose to switch to an in-house legal counsel or join a private equity fund after a few years under the belt.
     
    But despite this tremendous growth a lot more is still desired of the legal industry. The picture above is only reflective of a select few but vast majority of the lawyers need exposure to quality practices and international cases. There is a tremendous shortage of quality training schools.
     
    Q2. What are the key growth drivers for corporate legal services industry in India?
    Very much linked to India’s domestic growth but also has a strong cross border element. The private equity business is growing phenomenally and so is the hunger of Indian companies for their outbound aspirations.
     
    Q3. And the impediments?
    Supply of quality talent remains a serious challenge. There are only a small number of schools producing relatively small batches of students which are immediately handpicked by large Indian firms and now increasingly international law firms who recruit directly from the campuses.
     
    Although private sector is beginning to pay heed to the subject and there have been recent cases of one or two private law schools opening up but that is just a drop in the ocean. But it will take a long time for the supply side to match up with the demand.
     
    Q4. What models should India look to further liberalise the legal sector?
    I am not averse to opening of the legal sector at all. The pie is large enough for international firms to also come in. The current law minister is reviewing experiences of other nations when they liberalised their legal sector. One of the key concerns is the shortage of talent. If more international firms come in then it will certainly trigger off talent-hunt wars which is not good for the industry as such.
     
    As to what models will the country adopt, there will be various including joint-ventures or calibrated entry of international firms. Only time will tell which one is better.
     
    Q5. Where do you see AZB Partners in 2015?
    We are very much focused on the growth of our business within India. As such we do not have any plans to go international. There is a lot going on in India where we need further strengthen our practice. We certainly do not believe in adding numbers at the expense of quality. So AZB will carry on innovating and growing practice areas where we believer we can deliver quality and value to our clients.
     
     
    On India-UK Economic linkages

    Q6. Your perception of the Indo-UK economic linkages

    There seems to be a perception amongst the professional services community in the UK that they risk losing the Indian market share if more is not done to boost linkages with the country. That may be true and the perception in India is that UK was more focused on China than on India and even took the latter for granted at times given the historical linkages.
     
    This is also fairly evident by the lack of UK presence on the ground in India. The number of joint ventures we are witnessing with American companies far outnumbers the ones coming in from the UK.
     
    Q7. Do you think that David Cameron’s visit to India will boost the ties?
    The visit so early in his tenure along with a large senior delegation has certainly impressed a lot in India. It should certainly translate into stronger business linkages.
     
    Q8. What substantive measures should the Governments take to improve trade and investment flows?
    Both Governments need to take substantive measures. It is not just Britain that will benefit but India also has a lot to gain in terms of technical knowhow and best practices from the UK.
     
     
    Short & Sharp

    Q9. How bullish are you on the Indian economy?
    Extremely bullish.
     
    Q10. Will the cost of Commonwealth Games outweigh the benefits?
    Not sure.
     
    Q11. How serious a challenge to internal disturbances pose to India?
    Very much so.

     
    What you like about Britain

    Q12. Favourite hotel
    Langham in London
     
    Q13. Favourite spot
    Hyde Park
     
    Q14. Favourite icon
    Not sure..
     
     
    Life & Style

    Q15. Airline you would always fly
    Jet
     
    Q16. All time favourite gadget
    Blackberry
     
    Q17. Tea or Coffee
    Coffee, always.
     
    Q18. Sundays?
    Catching up with family and a bit of pending work. Getting
    ready for the week ahead.
     

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