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From Mumbai to Tokyo to Juarez—Where Local Companies Get Global Counsel

Michael J. Wilson

6/28/13

Williams Parker regularly helps the area’s most innovative companies achieve their global objectives. Whether expanding a back-office support center in Mumbai, establishing a joint venture manufacturing operation in Mexico, or securing a trademark in France, our clients rely on us to help them address their business challenges wherever their business interests take them. As discussed more fully below, we have leveraged technology’s rapidly declining costs and expanded capacity to align with an international network of business-focused law firms to provide global legal capabilities at competitive pricing.

Traditional Model for Global Law Firms
As the world’s large companies became global during the second half of the 20th century, law firms that hoped to continue to serve those companies expanded their operations by establishing and staffing offices around the globe. Today, these “global firms” are comprised of as many as 3,800 lawyers spread across 70 offices. Historically, the primary advantage of a global law firm was to offer global clients a single “shop” from which to purchase legal services wherever the clients’ transaction or projects might arise. Of course, the costs to maintain and staff law offices across the globe are very high. These costs translate into high fees—which can be tolerated by very large companies, but which are nearly always too expensive for smaller companies. Thus, for many years, only the world’s largest companies could afford access to legal counsel for international business. However, over the last few years, an alternative model has emerged which offers many of the advantages of a global firm, but which addresses two key disadvantages.

International Networks—The New Model to Provide Global Legal Service
As the speed and cost of communications have declined, international networks of individual law firms have emerged as the new model to provide global legal services. Several years ago, Williams Parker joined one of the leading international networks of business-focused law firms—the International Alliance of Law Firms (the “Alliance”). The Alliance is comprised of 63 law firms in 40 countries around the world, including member firms in the world’s money centers (i.e., London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York) and important commercial locations (e.g., Tel Aviv, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Shanghai). In addition, members of the Alliance know lawyers and law firms in virtually every location in which our clients have wanted to conduct business. The Alliance’s network of lawyers offers the geographic reach of the largest global law firms but without the administrative costs needed to support a global law firm structure.

Using this global network model, we help clients secure legal advice at fees well below the fees charged by global firms. In addition, when compared to global firms, we have found that Alliance members deliver, on average, more practical advice for clients than global firms provide. Occasionally, you might want someone to provide a preliminary point of view on a legal matter. At other times, you may need extensive research or a more formal legal opinion. In either situation, Alliance members are well suited to provide practical solutions.

Examples of Our Clients’ Global Projects
Case Study #1—Mumbai. One of our clients has two related operations—one based in Sarasota and one in Mumbai, India. As business in Mumbai began to accelerate, our client needed India-specific legal assistance with regulatory, finance, tax, and corporate issues. At the same time, the client needed assistance to structure an investment by a U.S. investor in the Mumbai operations. We helped the client engage an Indian law firm (which is a member of the Alliance) with an office in Mumbai, and we continue to coordinate closely with Indian counsel to navigate the full range of U.S., Indian, and international issues the client faces.

Case Study #2—Mexico.  A Williams Parker client with a local manufacturing operation engaged us to help create a joint venture with a Mexican partner to manufacture goods in Mexico. The purpose of the joint venture is to expand our client’s market to Mexican and other Latin American consumers. To address Mexican corporate and regulatory questions, we connected our client with the Alliance member with an office in Monterrey, Mexico. The client has now completed the joint venture negotiations and is developing its facility with its Mexico-based partner.

The Alliance is our tool to help you flourish in a hot, flat, and crowded world.

For more information regarding the Alliance, please contact Mike Wilson at (941) 536-2043 or mwilson@williamsparker.com.

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