Six prominent in-house counsel tell India Business Law Journal why some law firms are failing to deliver value for money, how transparency, efficiency and quality advice could improve legal offerings and what can be done to slash spending
India Business Law Journal (IBLJ): Welcome everyone. To put this discussion into perspective, could each of you tell us briefly about the size of your legal team and how much you spend on legal fees every year?
Ashok Sharma, founder president, Indian Corporate Counsel Association (ICCA): I recently left MMTC after working there as its general counsel for over 25 years. MMTC’s legal team is all over the country; we have a team of more than 25 lawyers. Our legal expenses were in the range of ₹15-20 million (US$276,000-368,000) per year. The majority of this amount went towards the company’s litigation expenses. The transactional outflow of legalwork is not much as most of this is done in-house.
Sarika Gandhi, manager legal for South Asia, Lufthansa: My legal team is very small, although I deal with all of Lufthansa’s group companies, which includes Austrian Airlines, Swiss Air, Lufthansa, Technik, etc. I have just two people with me. Major litigation comes from passenger cases, which are taken care of by the customer complaints centre. It’s hard to quantify legal expenditure – it depends on the legal issues which arise. If there’s a critical and sensitive issue, you may spend a fortune. We along with other international airlines have spent a lot of money recently on litigation against Airports Economic Regulatory Authority [AERA] on the increase of airport tariffs. So far nothing has moved, but we are hopeful. In general though, we don’t face too much litigation.