Friday, November 21, 2008

Live Blogging the Harvard Conference: Globalization of Law Practice

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

The first panel is an overview of law firm globalization with James Jones of Hildebrandt, Trevor Faure, the European GC for Tyco International, and Peter Kalis, the managing partner of K&L Gates.

Jones starts with an overview of globalization generally, and making the point that it impacts all law firms of any size, even though the program is on large firms that have themselves globalized.

The trend started with outpost "ex-pat" offices in Europe, mainly Brussels, but today US and other firms have become truly global, with the primary form being national offices staffed by nationals, not US ex-pats doing US law.

Pretty stable number of US firms with international offices over the last ten years, but huge increase in the numbers of offices per firm and the number of lawyers.

[UPDATE:  All Jeff's posts on live-blogged sessions are collected and linked at a final post. This first-session post continues after the jump.]

Also, in-migration into the US by UK firms - Freshfields, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance.

There is beginning to be evidence that global law firms (more than 25% of lawyers outside home country) outperforming others in revenues, profits, and this is actually the result of increased demand.

Explanation:  this gives a diversified footprint - counter-cyclicality in different markets.

Challenges in globalization:

- Strategic focus:  is it growth for growth's sake? 

- The problem of driving global practice units.

- Consistent seamless quality of service.

- Articulating global values to guide a large multi-cultural organization

Jones:  the firms that get this right will have a significant and long-lasting advantage.

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