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LIV President's Blog 2012

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Young legal minds focus on Australia-India ties

Young legal minds focus on Australia-India ties

Thirty young leaders from India and Australia took part in the Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) held for the first time on Australian soil in late January this year. The goal of the AIYD is to allow young leaders to build and drive sustainable long-term relationships between India and Australia.
 
On the agenda
The event, held over three days, was led by panels of high-profile experts from both countries in areas including international security, education, entrepreneurship, social innovation, media, foreign direct investment and sustainability. India's ban on foreign lawyers practising in India was also identified by the youth leaders as a hurdle for the Australia-India friendship.
 
The Governor of Victoria, various federal ministers, scientists, journalists, environmentalists, leading businessmen, NGO directors and entrepreneurs presented at the Dialogue including a video address from the Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, the Federal Government and the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria are big supporters of the AIYD. Last year, India was named a key regional nation in the White Paper for the Asian Century and the Prime Minister made her first official visit to India. The delegates discussed the importance of looking beyond uranium and Indian student violence as the focus of the bi-lateral relations.
 
A legal perspective on Australia-India relations
A number of the youth delegates from the two countries were able to provide a legal perspective on Australia-India relations. The delegates with a legal background came from private practice and in-house roles across both countries including Antony Anisse (TressCox Lawyers, Sydney), Amy Barber (Baker & McKenzie, Melbourne), Dr Fiona Lander (Corrs, Melbourne), Amrut Joshi (Gamechanger Law Advisors, Bangalore) and Rohit Kumar (General Counsel at United Phosphorus Limited, Mumbai).
 
Foreign lawyers banned from practising in India
A subject of the Dialogue was the ban on foreign lawyers and law firms from practising in India. India once had a closed economy, but in 1991 India opened its borders to allow multi-national corporations into the country through a number of financial and economic reforms. Whilst multi-national corporations were welcomed, foreign law firms were not. Since 1960, India has maintained a ban on foreign lawyers, kept in place to protect India’s domestic legal economy. Despite Australia and India's shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law, human rights and pluralism, the ban on foreign law firms is unlikely to be lifted in the near future and poses a significant impediment to the level of engagement between the Australian and Indian legal sectors.
 
Engaging the Indian market to keep up with the 'boom'
"The increased capabilities of international law firms has allowed global firms to look at different ways of engaging the Indian market through inbound and outbound investment and growth opportunities" said Amy Barber, a delegate from international law firm Baker & McKenzie. Foreign law firms have been busy forging informal paths into the Indian legal market by establishing strategic affiliations with Indian law firms to keep up with the 'India boom'. The delegates also discussed other difficulties in tapping into the legal sector including cultural and social differences as well as legislative and enforcement issues.
 
The AIYD is a unique initiative and with its focus on empowering young leaders in both countries, it is hoped that the 2013 delegates will find new avenues for collaboration and partnership. The AIYD will be held in India in 2014. For more information, see www.aiyd.org.  
 
What do you see as the difficulties in tapping into the legal sector in India?

Amy Barber is currently a Legal Officer at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

 
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