Analysing Indian Law Firms

Academics, and journalists for that matter, enjoy grouping and categorising industries. Those working in the legal sector are no exception to the rule. Peter Scherer at Haskayne Business School in Calgary is an old hand at using cluster analyses to examine the development of law firms. He has used it to good effect in the US to map the competitive space of large US law firms.


At a recent presentation Mr Scherer gave at Georgetown Law School in March, he analysed the development of US law firms in the 1920s through to the seventies. It struck me that the legal market he was describing sounded familiar. India appears to be at the same stage of development as the US legal market of the twenties. 


Similar to the early Wall Street firms, there is an emerging group of elite law firms in India who are showing signs of putting clear water between themselves and their immediate competitors. Having said that, the Indian legal market is still fluid. A new firm can set up and be an overnight quality player. In effect, the identity of India’s leading firms in the long-term is still up for grabs.


RSG Consulting has collaborated with Mr Scherer and asked him to put our Indian data through his programmes. The cluster analyses are shown and examined graphically in the new RSG India Report.


The diagram we show here is an update of the informal analysis of the Indian market we did in our first report. It was designed to show to the un-initiated the Indian legal market at a glance. Although we did not know it at the time, we were involuntarily grouping and categorising the industry along the lines of a cluster analysis although we had not run our data through any programmes. The groups shown on this diagram are the ones we have identified after doing the clusters analysis with Mr Scherer.


Readers may of course disagree with these groupings. But having run the data in several ways, it does appear that the Indian legal market can be categorised in this way.


The use of groupings to understand the Indian legal profession clearly shows that Amarchand, AZB, JSA and Luthra have common attributes that differentiate them from their peers. However, the chasing pack is not so far behind, and if the clusters are run on other indicators, the focused practices join the elite ones in terms of quality. 


Analysing the firms in terms of size, revenues, age and modernity throws up a host of different groupings, showing the flimsiness of competitive boundaries. It underlines the opportunity still available in the market for entrepreneurial lawyers. But it also shows the complexity of the obstacles facing those firms that are trying to scale up and institutionalise.