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hese may still be early days for foreign law firms to set foot in India, but they sure are shaking up the legal fraternity here. Top foreign law firms like Clifford Chance and Allen and Overy are stocking up on Indian talent, thereby effecting big salary hikes at their peers in the country. Fearing attrition in the industry, domestic law majors like Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Company (AMSS) and Jyoti Sagar Associates are retaining talent through fatter paychecks-some going up to even 100%. Others like Luthra & Luthra Law Offices and Dhir & Dhir are doling out mid-term hikes. And those that are not offering immediate ad-hoc increments are giving year-end bonuses and promotions. For instance, Kochchar and Co has already promoted 12 lawyers in the last three months across India. Though current rules don’t allow foreign law firms to open offices in India, they are recruiting domestic lawyers for their overseas offices. Once they are allowed, salaries in Indian law firms will zoom further, say experts. Already, AMSS has given unprecedented hikes across the board. While first-year associates at AMSS-fresh out of law schools-draw Rs 12 lakh per annum, senior and principal associates get between Rs 35-80 lakh. “The pay hikes offered now only suggest that flush times are here in India and the firms are doing much better compared to 15 years back,” AMSS managing partner Shardul Shroff told ET. Incidentally, this increased competition and skyrocketing salaries in big firms are having a domino effect on mid-sized firms. Their situation looks simple enough: revise salaries or lose people. Says Dhir & Dhir Associates partner Alok Dhir: “We are facing mammoth pressures for increase in salary and are forced to give mid-term increments ranging between 25-30% to critical workers.”
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