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Law Practice Compared India v/s Canada

You're a lawyer with an established practice or you are a law student or you have just passed high school and are thinking of pursuing law, all of us love this profession. We have big dreams that we want to achieve and when our dreams get more ambitious we widen our horizon, the thought of moving to another country surely pops up in your mind, Canada is one such country. We know how it is to practice law in India but we are outsiders to the Canadian legal industry, we know nothing about it. Considering this I conducted an Interview with some prominent names in the Industry from both India and Canada because they are the only ones who know what the reality is.

The sources of the Information below is Mr. Ravi Kini, the Managing Attorney of MV Kini & Co, one of the largest Indian law firms, and Ms. Rosebir Kaur Bath, the Founder of Batth Law Professional Corporation, a Canadian Law firm.

Both will give us an insight of the profession in both countries by answering 10 questions summing up maximum questions people have.

Questions asked to Mr. Ravi Kini.
Q1. What do you think are Indian lawyers as eager as IT professionals to move out of India or is it very uncommon to migrate as a lawyer as laws in every country are different.

A1. There are many lawyers who have relicensed in Canada, it's more common than it seems for Indian lawyers getting licensed in Canada. Even associates from big law firms are now migrating to Canada.

Q2. What qualities are Indian employers looking for in a lawyer while hiring. 

A2. There are two basic criteria, first is the competence and qualifications which covers their universities and educational achievements. Second is the adaptability compatibility  with the firm culture, whether the candidate is suitable for the firm or not or does he matches the job profile. Internships though are important for a person to graduate as a wholesome lawyer but again the university from where the student has completed his education from is more important as there is noticeable trend in the market that most of the students graduating from top law schools are bettergreat  junior lawyers, this said it is not a rule of thumb as there are also some mediocre lawyers graduating from top law schools who may not meet our expectations and some excellent lawyers graduating from not so knownmediocre law schools. 

Q3. In the future what trends in the legal profession do you see rising in India, hot areas of practice, demand for in-house lawyers and law firms associates 

A3. In India there is a lot of demand for in house counsels as in India the thinking is that it is both cheaper and efficient to have an own employee do the work rather than outsourcing it to any third party whereas it's the opposite in other countries such as UK & USA as for them these countries it is cumbersome to get the work done in house. This trend will be followed in India for some time, this practice will change when the cost to hiringe an employee will go up, after which India maywill follow the same trend of companies preferring sending out rule of outsourcing legal work to law firms. 

Although people are getting hired as a fresher into corporates but it is not advisable as an in-house lawyer the learning curve is not as steep as it is for an associate in a law firm. A fresher going into corporate tends to create a ceiling for himself when it comes to learning. It recommended that a person should work for at least 4-5 years in a law firm then get into the in-house job.

Q4. Is the Indian legal market focus in few citiesstates only such as Delhi and Mumbai if a lawyer wants to compete nationally with some of the biggest names in the industry does it becomes mandatory for him to operate in at least one of the major hubs and is this good or bad. 

A4. The market is not focused, many law firms are opening their offices in comparatively smaller cities and they are also witnessing a good influx of talent in those cities. Every city has its own paying clientele and therefore people are definitely thriving in those cities too. The quality of life is also better, the cost of living is lower. A student passing from a good university should not rule out opening practices or by joining firms in smaller cities.

Q5. Why aren't the majority of big Indian law firms operating outside India?

A5. One has to understand the primary practice of a primarily laws  are firm country specific. which is opting to operate in other countries the majority portion of the business for law firms is generated locally. The laws in other countries are different than laws in India, this creates a natural barrier for law firms to open offices easily and that necessitates necessity for the firm to hire lawyers employees locally. Even after this the senior management who have been trained and practicing in India will feel out of depth when engaging in the routine work. When it comes to fields like finance or IT the professional work from one country country's office can be transferred to other country and get it done there, this kind of is followed by the big 4 but legal work Lawyers cannot be transferred like this, it has to be done locally because of the abovementioned reasons, so if there is no work in a firms overseas office, that office will be doing nothing. Until and unless a firm achieves a true multinational status and has availability of cash in abundance it cannot operate internationally. Another point to note is that Indian market has not yet opened to international firms, so international law firms have to depend on big Indian firms for their India related work.

international competition and exposure is  missing in the Indian market. If India decides to let international players enter the Indian market then you might see some law firms opening their offices internationally too as the when international firms open India office's the flow of work to some big firms may reduce and they may then feel the requirement to open foreign office to source India related work.. 

There are some practices like Mergers & Acquisitions, Taxation, Insurance, and Transportation which have a more global outreach and adaptability. A firm operating in these practices can more easily open offices internationally as these  practicesl are more universal in nature than other practice areas like real estate, litigation and infrastructure are governed globally and are very vast in nature.

Q6. Do you think there is still scope for a lawyer to start his own law firm and complete the top tier law firms?

A6. It is undoubtedly very difficult now to open a law firm and start from scratch and then compete with the big players. The industry leading law firms today were opened when there were hardly any law firms in India. Today a lawyer might create his practice in a niche area but still it is much more difficult today as the market is maturing., but this is again an oxymoron as it is hard to find clientele in that area of practice it is therefore called a niche.

Q7. When it comes to education we see that many senior executives in law firms have earned their masters degree from the USA or UK keeping this in mind how do you think India competes with first world countries. 

A7. The reason for pursuing higher studies from other countries is simply to broaden our knowledge and exposure. When one pursues comparative law in any field they understand different approaches and systems adopted by different countries.  The subjects which people choose to pursue their higher education are very similar internationally such as banking laws. Once you are educated in that field you will know how Indian laws lack in that area or how they excel in that area, you learn many different aspects which are very much applicable in India itself.

Q8. The grass always seems greener on the other side, being in India where the concept of migrating to countries like Canada USA, New Zealand, and Australia is very much in trend, how do you think being a lawyer in India is better than being a lawyer in any other country. 

A8. There is no comparison of Indian legal market with other countries, what matters is your skills, you have to see which country is more suitable for you, but a person who is born and brought up in India it is easier for him to succeed in India as he has connections he has ties and most importantly know the market on his tipsbetter.

Q9. In countries like USA and Canada being a lawyer is considered a very highly reputed profession and the barriers to entry that profession the cost of study and salaries offered afterwards justify this do you think Indian universities has made it much more easier than it should be to become a lawyer therefore reducing the value of law graduate.

A9. It's true that there are more lawyers graduating every year than required but you cannot put a hold on issuing licenses to law schools or students as we have such a large population to cater to. We have to make law services available for everyone., this is present in other fields too such as IT. The discrepancy in salaries is also visible in countries like the USA, the students there passing from Ivy League schools will earn much more than others.

Q10. The concepts such as overtime pay and attorney employee exploitation are taken very seriously in North America as compare to this how the work environment of homes in India is. 

A10. The working conditions are definitely better in India as compared to the USA, where the employee lawyers expected to clock minimum 70 hours a week can be asked to come on a Sunday and work, yes the money is better but the work life balance is better in India for sure.

Questions asked to Ms. Rosebir Kaur Bath
Q1. We are well aware that it is very common for IT Professionals to migrate from other countries to Canada but do you feel it's the same with lawyers, what kind of diversity is present when it comes to the legal market?

A1. Well to start off, Canada is a multicultural country so naturally we have a lot of diversity in every sector. The legal market is diverse and becoming more so diverse as we have more immigration. Comparing the 1980s and 1990s or even 2000s there has been a big leap in colour.

Q2. What qualities are Canadian employers looking for in a lawyer while hiring.

A2. Academics and adaptability. Every firm has their own culture, an employer wants someone who can fit the fabric of their firm personality wise and work ethic.

Q3. In the future what trends in the legal profession do you see rising in Canada,hot areas of practice, demand for in-house lawyers and law firms associates?

A3. Intellectual property for sure, it is a niche now but is booming. More corporate law and Cyber related roles will emerge as we shift towards an online world as evident during the pandemic. Nothing particular, I feel in-house vs. firm associate demand will stay as it is.

Q4. Which province do you think is the best to practice law overall, assuming that the person you are advising to is an immigrant, has no ties in canada, can be specialised in any area of practice.

A4. B.C. or Alberta. Ontario is very saturated and cutthroat compared to the west coast environment. B.C. and Alberta both have significant populations minus the competition. Quebec is good as well, if the immigrant is well versed in French.

Q5. How is the canadian legal market divided? Do international law firms have a major market share or not, and are there any canadian law firms operating internationally?

A5. Canadian firms have a majority in the market. There are firms with lawyers who hold licenses for other jurisdictions can't comment on whether firms as whole are international.

Q6. Do you think there is scope for a lawyer to start his own law firm and compete with top tier law firms

A6. Depends on the area of law, generally yes but with years of experience and rapport.

Q7. When it comes to education do you think canadian law schools are better or does having a degree from a law school in the USA or UK more beneficial?.

A7. Canadian law schools if you haven't been exposed to the Canadian system. Theory and practical law are very different the sources of law and major case law are taught in Canadian law schools whereas they need to be learnt when coming from another jurisdiction.

Q8. Compared to other countries that you know of, what would you say if Canada is a better country to practice law in?

A8. It depends on what we are talking about. If it is financial, then the U.S. is more beneficial. I am biased being Canadian but in terms of lifestyle, I would say Canada is better.

Q9. In countries like USA and Canada being a lawyer is considered as a very highly reputed profession and the barriers to entry that profession, the cost of study and salaries offered afterwards justify this, but now do you think that there are lawyers available in excess or the amount is just right or there is still scope for more lawyers?

A9. There is always enough work for everyone. Insecurity is only felt when you do not believe in your own work. I feel right now, we have a good amount, not too much, not too little.

Q10. The concepts such as overtime pay and employee exploitation are taken very seriously in North America, considering this, how is the work environment in law firms in Canada?

A10. Lawyers are on salary therefore overtime isn't paid. We do have bonuses though which are nice. The early years have long hours but as you grow and with experience, you have a better schedule.

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