To Network-or not to Network? That is the Question

No international firm can have offices in every promising international jurisdiction-unless you’re Baker & McKenzie, of course.

And so, many international law firms join networks like the International Lawyers Network and Lex Mundi to boost their ties abroad.  Each of the nine or so established international lawyer networks vets its members before letting one join.  Each also charges a membership fee.  In return, the law fims build relationships with each other– and hopefully receive lucrative referrals as a result.

Increasingly, networks are offering educational components, like webinars, and even secundment options.A recent article titled A Crowded Marketplace in the ABA International Daily News discusses the advantages of such international lawyer networks.

While in London earlier this month, we discussed the merits of these networks during the panel discussion I led on Cross-Cultural Client Development at the recent ABA Section of International Law conference. Some lawyers-particularly those from regional law firms–felt that international lawyer networks had really benefited them by meaningfully connecting them to firms throughout the world.  However, others (such as some in house international lawyers) expressed concern about relying on such networks; these attorneys preferred to hire the best attorney in each location regardless of the network connection.

The consensus favored (i) joining networks to increase referrals and build relationships but (ii) not to feel obligated to work with a particular network member, and only to work with the ones best suited for the matter at hand.

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