The Law Firm Management Committee Business Development Group held a key-note panel at the International Bar Association’s Annual Conference in Vienna on the “Benefits of International Alliances & Networks” . The session was hosted by Paul Marmor of Sherrards Solicitors and co-chair of The Law Firm Management Business Development Working Group. Well over 200 delegates attended with a wide ranging exploration of the benefits of being involved in a legal alliance or network.
Fernando Pelaez senior partner of Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque in Caracas, a former President of the IBA and of the international network Lex Mundi, made it clear that everything turns on “commitment – the more you put in, then the more you will get out”.
Rabindra Jhunjhunwala, a senior partner with leading Indian law firm Khaitan & Co, explained how his firm has grown into a top tier corporate law firm in India, illustrating how international relationships have helped in that process. “Being part of a network, Meritas, has been useful but it is the international relationships with law firms across the globe that have made the real impact. Other factors which have contributed to the development of the firm include profile-building where, for instance, being involved in international legal organisations such as the IBA can be very helpful”.
Arthur Davis, senior partner with Addisons of Sydney, Australia was able to provide a sense of perspective that, when is all said and done, everything comes down to personal relationships and developing trust.
Stephen Kines, a global corporate counsel for a major conglomerate, gave a reality-check to the audience which came down to “don’t over-sell what the network can deliver” and “there is no doubt that if an alliance or a network can offer a niche then so much the better”.
Melissa Davis, MD of MD Communications, an expert in legal marketing and PR who previously ran the English Law Society’s PR department, was able to provide some important messages to law firms on how to communicate effectively to get the most out of being a member of a network. This included promoting the firm as the go-to firm for cross-border work, and communicating effectively with all relevant stakeholders in order to get noticed and taken seriously within the network. An example she used was collaborating with other members in other jurisdictions on topical articles covering cross-border issues.
Insights from the audience also came Nick Eastwell of Kinstellar, who outlined how the former Central and Eastern European members of Linklaters were able to construct one of Europe’s leading law firms in the region. James Hickey, the CEO of Alliott Group, was able to reinforce the message that being part of a network can provide a differentiator and provide a competitive edge over similar firms. Bob Ross of Hahn Loeser & Parks, USA confirmed, having been involved in two alliances (both Lex Mundi for top tier firms and the Alliott Group for firms sitting in the mid-tier/mid-market space) that having firms that you can really rely on and that you know to place work with can protect client relationships.
Panellist Gianmatteo Nunziante, managing partner of Nunziante Magrone, Italy explained that being part of a network can help in the process of recruiting and retaining lawyers with the prospect of international work when competing for staff against the global international firms.
With over 200 attending the session, there is undoubtedly a great deal of interest in this subject.
The benefits summarised:-
- referrals of business
- placing work with piece of mind
- sharing knowledge:
- practice management
- business development
- technical information
- recruitment and retention of legal staff with international work and internship exchanges
- bolstering and creating marketing & PR opportunities
- tendering opportunities