The RSG top 50 Foreign law firms 2019
RSG used three indicators to produce the overall ranking of foreign law firm India practices. Scores for each indicator are banded and added to give a total for each firm.
1. Profile and reputation: based on the number of mentions each firm received in our research with Indian and overseas clients, foreign law firm peers, and Indian law firms. Indian clients were asked which foreign law firms they thought had the best reputation in India AND which firms they had instructed in the past 12 months. The RSG ranking attempts to cut through hearsay and legacy reputations to see who is actually doing the business.
2. Quality of mandate: quality of India-related work and clients for which the firm has acted in the past 12 months. It considers the size and profile of the clients, and the complexity and significance of work.
3. Deals: a composite of the value and volume of transactions on which the firm has acted in the past 12 months, as published in a variety of deals and transactions tables. These include mergers & acquisitions, capital markets, private equity, and project finance league tables for 2018 and 2019 published by: Bloomberg, Dealogic, Legally India, MergerMarket, Thompson Reuters / Refinitiv and Venture Intelligence.
The 2019 Ranking
Clifford Chance topped the foreign law firm ranking for 2019 with the highest overall score and the broadest reaching India practice of any foreign law firm analysed this year. While the firm lagged slightly behind its Magic Circle peers Allen & Overy and Linklaters in profile and reputation, it received the highest deals score. The firm performed well in all of the M&A, capital markets, project finance and private equity tables, although it wasn’t top ranked in any single practice area.
Allen & Overy has the highest profile and reputation in India. It was the most mentioned law firm by both clients and foreign law firm peers. There was a significant drop down to the next most mentioned law firms, Linklaters and Clifford Chance. The firm moved up the ranking three places from 5th place in 2017 to 2nd overall in 2019.
Private equity work drove some of the most significant moves in the table this year. The top ten firm that made the biggest move up the ranking was Kirkland & Ellis. The US headquartered law firm was the most mentioned foreign firm by Indian law firm partners in 2019.
The other new entrant into the top 5 was Latham & Watkins which performed well on the back of a strong capital markets and private equity practice. In particular, the firm was singled out for bringing its globally leading high yield practice to Indian clients.
Herbert Smith Freehills maintains a strong top ten Indian practice, but moved down four places this year as Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis leapfrogged into higher positions, largely picking up on the increase private equity in the market over the past year. This boosted the US firms’ performance in the deals tables, but has also raised their market profile quickly.
Gunderson Dettmer is featured in the ranking for the first time in 11th place. The Silicon Valley headquartered, venture capital focused law firm has been involved in a large number of VC investments into India over the past year. The firm also advised Flipkart on its billion-dollar acquisition by Walmart in 2018.
The highest ranked law firms without a UK or US sole or dual headquarters are Singaporean Allen & Gledhill at number 21 and Chinese/Australian King & Wood Mallesons at 37, and Singaporean Rajah & Tann at 40.