Archive for August, 2007

Incorporating Humor into International Presentations

Monday, August 27th, 2007

I ran across an article by professional speaker Tom Antion with tips for integrating humor into international presentations.   (Ignore the flashing graphics at the top of the page and scroll down for the tips.)  Humor is very culture specific, so do your research!

Reactivating Former Clients Across the Miles: Get on a Plane–FAST

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Lawyers with global practices often lose touch with former clients, especially if there’s geographic distance.  After all, it’s much easier to maintain a personal relationship with a client that you can see regularly over dinner. 

The international lawyers that I coach on client development often describe their former clients wistfully like, “I used to get lots of lucrative work from Mr. X, but he lives in London (or Hong Kong or Buenos Aires) and I live in New York (or Bogota or Sydney).  Mr. X hasn’t called me, and I have not seen him in a long time.” 

My answer?  If the client is important to you, then get on a plane–FAST!  The longer that you wait to rekindle the relationship, the harder it will be to do so.  Fly to see the client (on your own dime) and spend time touring the client’s facilities–for no charge.  Arrive prepared to present something of value, such as copies of a white paper on a relevant topic.  Give free advice while you are there by answering any questions that come up. In other words, remind them of how helpful you are–and remind them how much they miss having you as their lawyer. 

Clients from cultures that highly value personal relationships will particularly appreciate your effort, although it may take more than one visit to nurture your relationship back to health.

Make this gesture even if they are working with a competitor firm; relationships can sour, and the client may begin searching for replacement counsel.  You want to be in the front of that former client’s mind.

If your law firm won’t pay for your trip, do so yourself.  You will benefit in the long run.

Of course, there are less expensive ways of getting back in touch with former clients, like sending handwritten notes and the like. But nothing makes as much impact as an in person visit–especially if the lawyer does so at the lawyer’s cost and initiative.  Although you may not want to fly across the globe for every former client, do it when appropriate as a powerful client development tool.

The Magic of Mentoring for Lawyers with International Practices

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Do you have a mentor?  Are you mentoring a younger lawyer?  Mentoring can be magic–both for the mentor and mentee.

As I discussed in my recent article on Strategies for Staying Successful as a Partner for the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, it is critical to develop a support system within your place of employment.  Whether you work at a large firm or have a solo practice, or whether you are a corporate counsel or a government employee, having a mentor as part of your overall support system can really help your star to rise. 

As my article explains, “…no one can do it all on their own so it is also important to develop a good support system of people ready to help you grow your practice and continually learn more. If you do not have a mentor, seek one out.”

 Ask your mentor for recommendations about:

1. Committees and other leadership opportunities;

2.  Career direction;

3.  Introductions to potential clients or other resources;

4.  Tips for enhancing your work experience and knowledge base;

5. Unbiased, confidential, “tough-love” feedback; and

6. Career insights gained by your mentor as an experienced international practitioner.

 As an international lawyer, it will be invaluable to have input from a more senior attorney about the rules of the road.  The finer points of a successful global law practice–such as the finesse required for global rainmaking–require experience and in sights that a more seasoned international lawyer can provide.  Seasoned practitioners also provide cultural tips, such as Do’s and Dont’s when Doing Business in Dubai or Dakar or Dublin. 

If you can’t find a mentor in your place of employment, look for one through a bar, industry or alumni association. Recently retired international lawyers can also be marvelous resources.

Similarly, you should willingly mentor more junior practitioners as they grow their international practices. Not only will this enhance the pool of more junior lawyers from which you can draw, but it will also create goodwill between you and the junior attorneys. As they progress up the career ladder, they will appreciate your mentoring–long after you have ceased to work together.   

Deepening Client Relationships Promotes Baker & McKenzie’s Success

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

As reported in today’s Lawyer.com, Baker & McKenzie is celebrating record profits–with per equity partner income rising 22% over the last year.  John Conroy, head of the firm’s executive committee, is quoted as crediting five factors for this financial success, including “deepening major client relationships.”

As a truly global firm, Baker & McKenzie noted growth in a variety of markets, primarily those in Europe and the Middle East, followed by those in North America and Latin America, and then by those in the Asia Pacific. And so, deepening existing client relationships at this firm necessarily includes a fair amount of cross selling–enticing clients to use the firm in additional geographic markets and practice areas.

For this kind of cross selling to work well, multiple lawyers (not just the client’s primary contact) need good cross cultural skills.  A rainmaker with a prized client will be willing to cross sell the services of his firm colleagues if the colleagues are talented lawyers AND if they won’t offend or chase away the client. 

So, if you want more internal referrals, cultivate good relations with your colleagues, too.  If you find yourself at a global firm like Baker & McKenzie, you will need to cross cultural acumen not only when dealing with potential and existing clients, but also when developing relationships with your colleagues from around the world.

Ask Janet: US Citizen Attending Argentine Law School

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Janet, I’ve enjoyed your blog. I’m residing in Argentina for the next few years and have an opportunity to study law here. When I return to the US, will I be able to sit for the bar, will there be opportunities for someone like me, will those opportunities be significant, or will they in fact be limited by

virtue of where I got my education? Many thanks.

Tim

Dear Tim I am glad that you have enjoyed reading my blog. In fact, by reading the posts in the “Ask Janet” category, you will see that I’ve addressed inquiries similar to yours.The January 22 post will give you the links to the states that admit foreign trained lawyers to practice in the US and the qualifications for doing so.It also gives the link to the rules on this issue from the NY Bar which, at the moment (and probably for the foreseeable future) will be the state that is most welcoming to foreign trained lawyers. Review the requirements carefully, not only now but also closer to the time that you would seek to become licensed to make sure that you have met the requirements.Your best potential employer would of course be one that would need your Argentine law expertise, like a company that does a lot of US-Argentine business, law firms that service such clients, or a governmental entity dealing on US-Argentine matters. It seems to me that getting some actual legal work experience while in Argentina would improve your resume–experience that you could even get while in school. A lawyer with practical work experience–not just the theoretical knowledge of foreign law–is much more marketable.

You asked whether your job opportunities in the US will be limited by virtue of where you got your education (Argentina rather that the US). Generally speaking, yes. A US trained lawyer with good grades from a good law school will have more job offers. However, if you can play to your strengths by emphasizing your niche (Argentine law knowledge), and find an employer who needs just that, there may be an ideal job for you.

Your ability to find a job in the US really depends on your ability to network effectively. Use your time in Argentina to make as many contacts as you can with Argentines doing business in the US. Even if they are not in a position to hire you, they can make valuable introductions to others in the US for you. Likewise, during trips to the US during the next few years, continue such networking on the US side. In fact, you might go ahead and get involved in the International Law Section of the ABA now and start building contacts. As a student, your membership rate will be lower.

By the way, I just wrote a chapter about moving up the international law career ladder for the upcoming third edition of the Careers in International Law book published by the ABA’s International Law Section. Keep your eyes peeled (or check my blog) down the road to see when the third edition is released. All of the chapters will have info. that may be useful.

All the best,

Janet