Are Las Vegas Firms
By Sabrina S. Siracusa
The business world has become a global society, where organizations are constantly expanding to foreign markets and making international investments. Globalization is transforming the way law is practiced while creating new global legal institutions and standards.
It’s no surprise that globalization is also changing the direction that many law firms are taking. Business law is globalizing fastest of all as nations agree to standardize regulations, rules and legal practices as part of a global community. The need for global law firms has increased as diplomats have created international rules for many areas of corporate law, including bankruptcy and intellectual property. The trend seems to be the globalization of business law in order to serve giant, transnational organizations. As a result, some of the larger firms are creating mega law firms that reach across the borders with thousands of legal professionals in place.
The Pros and Cons of Law Practice Globalization
Globalization has become a practicable option as law firms continuously search for ways to grow and stabilize themselves as profitable businesses. It is not unusual to expand services to meet the needs of clients. For example, a real estate client may decide to purchase property overseas. If your law firm is not prepared to provide legal representation in the transaction, it may also lose a valuable client and referrals to other clients.
An advantage law firms have over other globally inclined businesses is that legal professionals are providing a service, not a tangible product. Therefore, they don’t have to worry if there’s a strike by employees, delays in shipping or a natural disaster in another part of the world. For the most part, as long as the technology used to communicate and practice law has not been affected, legal professionals can continue to provide services with minimal or no disruption.
When considering global expansion of your firm, it is important to consider the pros and cons of this type of expansion. A benefit of globalization is the ability to meet the global needs of existing clients. Globalizing your law firm will also allow you to provide services for new and existing clients who are interested in global transactions.
Globalization of your firm also provides an edge over firms with no international presence—an obvious plus when clients need legal representation for international matters.
As with any decision, the possible negative effects must also be considered. Due to differences in currency and an ever-changing global economy, currency fluctuations can cause a positive or negative shift of your firm’s revenue.
Another consideration is the investment of time by your firm’s management team to expand into the global market. The task requires designation of global staff, as well as blending national and international offices into one united law firm.
Resources Needed for Law Firm Globalization
No discussion of globalization is complete without the mention of additional legal training and advances in technology…one of the main reasons that globalization has dramatically increased in recent years. Resources helpful or needed to compete in a global environment include:
The LLM Degree: Although not required, a LLM degree has become highly desirable for attorneys looking to expand their services globally as it is an advanced law certification that has global credibility. When a law firm has associates with an LLM degree, it is set apart as a firm that is committed to and knowledgeable of globalization. LLM programs are offered by law schools in the United States and Canada.
Highly Accessible Time Management and Billing Software: It is crucial to the successful globalization of a law firm to have software that will keep track of a large number of legal staff and that will provide accurate billing. Attorneys should be able to access programming online to track their billable time. Most time management software programs also have apps so users can use their cell phones or other mobile devices, while syncing with accounting to produce an accurate invoice for clients. With solid legal billing software in place, law firms can maintain accurate billing practices no matter where their attorneys and staff members are located.
Cloud-Based Software: Merged law firms or firms that set up global offices need to be able to share highly confidential information through a secure platform. Understandably, the idea of sharing case and client information can be unnerving for most legal professionals. Confidentiality should always be a concern; but the opinion is that cloud sharing is an acceptable method for storing and retrieving client and case information. For example, the Arizona State Bar’s Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct, concluded in Opinion 09-04 (Dec. 9, 2009), that a law firm may use an online file storage and retrieval system that enables clients to access their files over the Internet.
A Final Word
Successfully globalizing a law firm relies heavily on a firm’s strategy to expand its own services and establish itself in foreign markets. This means having working knowledge of how law firms are run in foreign markets and solid knowledge about how technology can help a firm expand. If you want successful law firm growth, you need to know what you can offer, as well as know your reasons for expansion and how you intend to succeed with your new offices and fellow associates and partners.
The reality is that even if you don’t become a global law firm, you will have to work with and be affected by firms that have an international presence. As technology continues to expand, and makes global transactions easier to facilitate, clients will gravitate toward firms that can work with them no matter where they are located.
Sabrina Siracusa is Las Vegas-based freelance copywriter. With an undergraduate degree in psychology and an ABA Paralegal Certificate, Siracusa’s specialty is crafting content for legal, medical and career-based websites. Learn more about her work at www.writergirl.biz
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