We have always maintained that "partnering" is a two way street. Both the law firm and the corporate client gain from the relationship.Over time companies tend to develop true partnering relationships with one or more firms that they tend to view as their "regular counsel" to which they look for advice on most important matters.
If a matter comes up occasionally that your "regular counsel" doesn't feel that it can handle because it lacks an office in the locality where the matter must be addressed, it will seek out the best possible local firm to undertake the task. This is a true test of the partnering relationship.The test is met if the firm to which you have been referred is so good and performs so well that it might be a potential competitor for the referring firm. But, to retain your business over time, your regular firms will either expand into the new geographic areas where you have a need for ongoing representation or form alliances with superior local firms to which they will refer your business on a regular basis.
The process that we described within the U.S. is now taking place on a global level as your companies find their businesses leaping national boundaries. This is clearly seen in this month's Special Section on the UK. In fact, there are a growing number of U.S. lawyers located in the UK who are qualified to practice in both countries.
For the many reasons outlined in our articles and interviews, the UK may be an ideal venue for an American company to take the first step into the global marketplace.Certainly, a very important consideration is that one of your regular law firms or its alliance partner may have an office there - or that a UK firm may have lawyers on its staff who are sufficiently conversant with U.S. law to help you understand the differences between U.S. and UK law.Although the UK is among the least foreign of all countries, it is important, as you are warned on the London Underground, to "mind the gap."
Al Driver Editor
Published January 1, 2006.