India Business Law Journal’s 2018 billing rates survey finds that hourly fees across Indian law firms are up, rebounding to 2016 levels, but clients still call the shots. Vandana Chatlani reports

Hourly billing rates across Indian law firms have climbed, rebounding to match 2016 fee averages and in some cases surpassing these figures, according to a survey of Indian law firms by India Business Law Journal.

A quick scan of the results of the survey and the accompanying infographics show that the numbers matter as they provide a useful benchmark of legal fees in key Indian markets each year. Our 2017 survey had shown that rates fell noticeably across all categories based on data that included full-service giants and tiny niche firms.

Interestingly, however, higher fees this year haven’t done much to deter the negotiating power of corporate counsel. This, in addition to the tight competition among firms, means that while hourly rates are dearer this year, a client’s final invoice may look quite different.

“Firms in India tend to pitch aggressively to get work from companies,” says Ganapathy CB, executive vice president for corporate affairs and group general counsel at Himatsingka Seide in Bengaluru. “We have seen law firms cutting down pricing to almost half of their initial quote when informed about a competitor’s pricing. This is not a bad trend and companies tend to benefit from the competition.”

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