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India Legal Market to Stay Closed, Edwards Angell Partner Says

India’s legal market won’t open for at least five years, according to a lawyer who went to the country with a delegation of business leaders in conjunction with U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit.

The subject was dropped from the agenda of Obama’s talks with the Indian government said Shahana Basu Kanodia, a partner and chair of the South Asia practice group of Boston law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, who said she was involved in preparations for the meetings

India prohibits foreign lawyers from practicing law or setting up offices in the country. The ban was upheld in December by the Bombay High Court in a ruling that said Ashurst LLP, Chadbourne & Parke LLP and White & Case LLP shouldn’t have been licensed by India’s central bank to open offices. Liberalization would take “five, six, or seven years,” after that ruling, Kanodia said.

Indian businesses don’t see many advantages to foreign law firms entering, she said.

Obama said his three-day visit to India yielded agreements that will support thousands of U.S. jobs and spur trade in high- technology goods.

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