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Cultural Fluency for Future Law Partners

Seems a no brainer that if you aspire to partnership with a global law firm you will need to develop the knowledge and skills to be able to operate effectively in complex cross-jurisdictional situations.  Law firm partners of the future will need to be able to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues, clients and other stakeholders from a multiplicity of cultural backgrounds – and this will demand high levels of global cultural fluency.

So today I was working with a group of senior associates from Pinsent Masons LLP who are curently going through the Aspire training programme for future leaders and we spent the morning looking at various areas where global cultural differences can impact on the cross-border activities of an international lawyer.  Lots of issues were raised by the delegates – which we drilled into – but one area which was of great interest was around the impact of cultural differences on international mediation scenarios.

This is a topic of particular interest to me .  I was asked to make a presentation on this a few years ago at the Internation Bar Association annual conference in Madrid in which I focused on the cultural fluency needed by international mediators – but which we all agreed is often sadly lacking.  Imagine a situation where a British mediator is mediating between a French party and a Chinese party.  The British mediator listens to what the Chinese say and that then gets contorted through the British cultural lenses of that mediator.  This reinterpreted Chinese message is then relayed to the French who re-interpret that through their own French cultural lenses etc.  The likelihood of misinformation and fake news spreading is enormous.

We all agree that international mediators need lots of cultural training, knowledge and fluency…..