Archive for October, 2006

CILS Conference on Lawyering in International Market

Friday, October 6th, 2006

International lawyers wanting to give presentations to and network with their peers should look into the Salzburg-based Center for International Legal Studies.  CILS produces seminars throughout the world on a variety of international law topics, including an upcoming seminar in Whistler Canada from March 31-April 6 titled Lawyering in the International Market.

Seminar with FCPA Update

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Do your clients need practical advice on how to avoid FCPA violations?  The ABA’s annual FCPA seminar promises to offer that and more on October 16-17 in Washington, DC.  The opening session will feature remarks by Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Client Gifts and Events with International Themes

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Last night I attended a party at the new Houston offices of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP.  The reception was clearly meant to help brand the firm as a truly global law firm. 

Last night’s reception accomplished this in several ways.  First, the invitations to the event were designed to look like passports, and they also detailed the firm’s many international offices.  At the actual event, various food stations offered cuisine typical of the foreign countries in which MBR&M has offices.  Finally, departing guests received a bag filled with a brochure (again, designed like a passport), and a digital clock; the clock has a world map with buttons indicating where the firm keeps foreign offices; pressing a button on the map changes the displayed time and date to that of the selected foreign location.

The event succeeded in emphasizing the firm’s brand as an international law firm.  By reinforcing this brand through coordinated, multiple avenues (invitations, cuisine, printed materials and party favors) the event had more impact. 

Marketing tip:  emphasize your international brand at every logical opportunity, including through client gifts and events.  Although international lawyers should certainly communicate their “international brand” through their website and standard marketing materials, international attorneys can also promote their brand through other means–gifts and events, included.

Ideas for internationally-themed client gifts: coffee table books featuring international locations in which either your firm has foreign offices, or in which you have handled matters for your client; recordings of music native to those same foreign jurisdictions; foreign foods or wines; foreign magazine subscriptions; exotic plants, with description of their native foreign habitat (and caretaking instructions);  and gift certificates for meals at restaurants with foreign cuisine.


Lessons Learned from Queen Noor

Thursday, October 5th, 2006
Janet Moore meets Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

Janet Moore meeting Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan on October 2, 2006

Last Monday I had the opportunity to meet Queen Noor of Jordan before she gave an hour-long presentation to a group of several hundred Houstonians. During her presentation she shared some of the lessons she had learned during her life as a Princeton-educated Urban Planner Turned Queen.

When discussing the Middle East, its politics and its people, Queen Noor stressed the importance of (1) researching issues thoroughly to get to the truth, and (2) getting to know the region first hand by visiting it. These points seem especially relevant to those of us working in the international arena.

The Queen’s first lesson: getting to the bottom of an international issue requires real digging, especially when cultural perceptions can skew facts. We all approach issues from our unique cultural perspectives, and so it is very hard for our cultural bias not to influence how we both communicate and perceive information. Take away point: to diminish the influence of cultural bias and to get to the truth, research an issue thoroughly from many angles and consult many different information sources.

The Queen’s second lesson: to really understand a foreign culture, nothing beats personal experience with that culture. When speaking about Americans’ conceptions/misconceptions about the Middle East and its inhabitants, Queen Noor exclaimed, “Just come and visit!” Many international lawyers travel to foreign countries, and know how fundamentally preconceptions about a culture can change by doing so. I know that my opportunity to spend time living in six countries outside the United States, and my business and other trips to many more foreign countries, fundamentally changed my understanding of those countries and their cultures.

Take away tip: If you can’t travel to a region, and you have already researched it thoroughly (per the Queen’s first lesson), get to know as many people from that culture as possible; this human contact will give you invaluable insights into the foreign culture, and improve your international lawyering involving that culture.

Trend: International Law Practice Area Predicted to Grow Most Next Year

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

According to Hildebrandt International’s 2006 Law Department Survey of trends, the international practice area is the area most likely to grow in demand in 2007.  Forty percent of the 201 law departments surveyed anticipated more legal work in this area.  The Survey concentrated on large companies’ law departments, with the median surveyed company employing at least 20 in-house lawyers and spending over $20 million annually on legal costs.