A large delegation of 20 barristers and chambers’ staff visited Mumbai and Kolkata between 22 and 27 November. This visit took place in the context of the International Committee’s strategic plan objective to raise the profile of the Bar in India over the period 2008- 2010. It built on visits in 2005 and 2007 and a visit by the Bombay Bar Association to London and Manchester in 2008.
The visit had three objectives:
1) Strengthening ties with the Indian legal profession (both in private practice and in-house) at the trade level
2) Giving practitioner members and practice managers an opportunity to promote their own practice vis-a-vis Indian law firms and in-house counsel.
3) Strengthening ties with the Indian legal profession at the values level
The second objective was a new one. Previously the aim on the business development side had been limited to raising the profile of the Bar in general and to explain to lawyers and in-house counsel the advantages of working with barrister in relation to English and international law matters.
A number of events were held in pursuit of the first two objectives as well as the objective to allow practitioners to promote their own practice. Just before the delegation began its official programme in Mumbai, the Chairman also visited Delhi for meetings with the Law
Minister and the Corporate Affairs Minister in pursuit of all three objectives. Both Ministers were supportive in every respect and
particularly keen for the Bar to continue advocacy training programmes in India.
In respect of the latter, two advocacy training programmes were delivered by three trainers from the Advocacy Training Council (ATC)
in Mumbai and Kolkata, a similar initiative as was conducted during the 2005 mission. The objective here was to demonstrate the excellence of the English Bar in IDR as well as generating goodwill by providing free training to young Indian advocates and encouraging
the senior bar to contemplate becoming advocacy trainers through future ATC training events. Around 40 young advocates benefited from the training in each city.
In respect of business development and raising the profile of the Bar’s legal expertise three seminars were held for in-house counsel and senior managers of major Indian corporates in both cities. The seminars consisted of an introduction to the Bar and its international legal services, followed by three presentations on international litigation, international arbitration and international mediation. This was followed by a networking opportunity.
In addition two seminars were held with bar associations in Mumbai and Kolkata to strengthen links with the local profession. Finally, two well-attended receptions were held for legal VIPs in each city.
The visit, supported by UKTI, was successful in raising the profile of the Bar and delegation members were able to make many useful
business contacts. In both Mumbai and Kolkata, further opportunities in developing international arbitration and mediation activities have appeared. The great interest in the ATC programme is also generate further requests for advocacy training events in both cities. The International Committee will evaluate the success of the mission in greater detail and plans for future India-related activities will be announced in the New Year.