Conversation with Glenn Gerstell Managing Partner Milbank Tweed Hadley amp McCloy
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Conversation with Glenn Gerstell Managing Partner Milbank Tweed Hadley amp McCloy

Bar & Bench

Bar & Bench spoke to Glenn Gerstell, Managing Partner of the Washington DC office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and the head of the firm’s India practice, while he was on a short trip to India.

Bar & Bench spoke to Glenn Gerstell, Managing Partner of the Washington DC office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and the head of the firm’s India practice, while he was on a short trip to India.

Glenn has been a partner in Milbank’s office since 1985, and has served in the Milbank’s New York and Washington offices. He was previously the managing partner of the Singapore and Hong Kong offices. Glenn graduated from Columbia University School of Law where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar.

Talk us through your experience in assisting Indian companies?

When liberalization started, I was in Milbank’s Hong Kong office  and the Investment Banks there were excited about the prospects of India opening up, so we were encouraged to come and explore the India market. We were involved in the first wave of GDR’s like the Tata Electric, Ranbaxy and others between 1993-94. This was the first wave of Indian companies raising capital overseas. Since then Milbank has been very active in cross border transactions involving Indian companies, especially outbound M&A and financings for acquisitions or infrastructure projects. Particularly, the last two or three years have been very strong where we have seen sustained momentum in  transaction activity.

Indian legal market – How do you view it? Your views on liberalization and entry of foreign law firms

Milbank has not advised and will not advise on Indian law. There are many excellent Indian law firms, and we aren’t interested in competing with them at all. We work actively with several of them on cross border transaction. I think over time when India eventually changes its rules and allows foreign law firms and lawyers to practice in India, that would be a good thing for not only Indian companies but also for the Indian Bar, which will benefit from it. It would be a win-win situation for everyone. We would consider setting up an office here as and when the rules change to allow foreign law firms.

In the meantime we service Indian clients on their cross border transaction from one of our four offices in Asia (China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan) and through our worldwide offices depending on our clients need.

We certainly believe that liberalization and the entry of foreign law firms would benefit the entire sector. It  will be done when the Indian government and the Indian Bar feels comfortable with the opening up of the sector.

How has your experience been working alongside Indian law firms?

There are easily a group of law firms with offices in Mumbai and Delhi who have world-class offices with Partners who  are internationally sophisticated and experienced. The challenge, as they recognize, is to ensure that level of quality is present at all levels of the law firm considering that the Indian market is growing at exponential levels.  I think it’s a story of continuous evolution.

What is your take on the Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) sector in India, with regard to outsourcing legal services from the US to India?

I think LPO is certainly very efficient for certain kinds of legal practices. For Milbank, we have not engaged in it mostly because the kind of work we do tends to be very customized and specific, which is highly negotiated projects or cross border litigations where there are relatively few opportunities to cut cost efficiencies associated with outsourcing. There are other practices where it makes sense but for Milbank we have not found the opportunity.

What are your American clients views on investing in India?

When President Obama visited India last year, he was accompanied by the largest contingent of business executives to India. There is a positive view about India in the United States and bullishness about investing in India’s growth market.

However, there is no denying that some investors are concerned about perceived levels of corruption. They are concerned about bureaucracy, red tape and restrictions on foreign direct investment, for example, limitations in the retail sector. There are still some barriers and obstacles to be overcome. But the trend is in the right direction and I anticipate more investments towards India.

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