One of the biggest challenges facing large non-aligned national law firms is around how they go about building law firm networks which deliver a network of best friends around the world who they can work with to help service their domestic clients’ international needs. Sounds like a no-brainer perhaps – just go out and find a few comparable firms in a few key global markets and form a best friend relationship. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy….
And crucially, ‘how can we ensure effective cross-border working?’ That’s where I come in….
I was in Amsterdam yesterday with the Dutch Law Firm Lexence NV who are working hard to develop good reciprocal working relations with other firms in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. I was asked to run a cultural awareness training programme with a group of senior asociates who will, hopefully, be working together on cross-jurisdictional matters for years to come.
At one point during the day I asked the lawyers to outline client expectations in their own jurisdictions so the other lawyers could gain a better understanding. The output from this exercise was absolutley fascinating (I’ll write a fuller blog on this) because the client expectations as described by the lawyers were so different. (Who said client expectatons were the same all over the world?) The biggest surprise to the delegates was just how different client expectations were in two countries which are so close to each other – the Netherlands and Belgium!
I always learn more on these cultural awareness training sessions than I teach which is why I love the job so much.