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
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
firmcountry 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 lawyersemployees 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 countrycountry’s office can be transferred to other country and get it
done there, this kind of is followed by the big 4 but legal workLawyers cannot
be transferred like this, it has to be done locallybecause 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 laws.aws 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
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
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
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
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
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
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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