The international expansion of law firms plays a critical role in understanding the business of law and the nature of globalization. This article responds to the articles by Carole Silver and Len Bierman and Michael Hitt on law firm expansion in this symposium issue on the Globalization of the Legal Profession. The essay utilizes management studies' theoretical work on internationalization and applies it to law firm expansion to explain law firm strategic decision-making. The author creates a six-part taxonomy for types of law firm expansion and provides a snapshot of the increasing U.S./U.K. dominance of capital markets, corporate and mergers & acquisitions legal work around the world. Finally, the article proposes an interdisciplinary research agenda that incorporates law, economics, sociology, economic geography, and management studies to more fully understand law firm expansion.
The Internet's global reach has had a significant impact on the legal profession. This essay explains a few of the key developments in this area, including: competition fueled by outsourcing legal work to lower-wage earning lawyers around the world, "virtual work" changing client interaction and attorney work schedules, law firm reputation as a result of information availability on the Internet, work-product monitoring and the commoditization of legal services, and workforce diversity spurred by the influence of international clients.
Globalization has fundamentally accelerated and altered business transactions. The search for low labor costs and cheap raw materials has led to a proliferation of international transactions, and large, international law firms are called on to participate in complex transactions helping business tap into sources of finance around the world for investment. This article first examines the theoretical underpinnings of international legal practice, taking into account the historiography of U.S. and U.K. law firms. Part II describes the economic and political factors behind law firms' rise. Part III analyzes the success of the common law, as expressed through contract, at the expense of civilian codes. Part IV examines how international law firms have capitalized on their growth and success. Part V draws upon Luhmann's sociology of law to begin to explain how law firms achieve their aims by creating supporting and enabling structures for business. Part VI highlights a case study of the creation of a legal investment device, the U.K. Pfandbriefe. The conclusion suggests some ways of bringing these diverse strands together that explain law firms' roles in international business transactions through the management of uncertainty and stabilization of expectations.
The local nature of legal systems reduces the harmonizing impact that globalization has generated in other sectors of the economy. Despite the continuing importance of local differences and institutions, the world in which law and lawyers operate is increasingly connected, and national borders are receding as barriers to commerce. Lawyers and their firms must respond to the forces of globalization both as organizations and in connection with the services they provide. This article addresses the ways in which they are doing so by examining what it means for a law firm to be both a global and a U.S. firm. The article begins with a brief historical review and, in Section I, a discussion of the changes made by U.S. firms in their transformations to global competitors. Section II continues this historical review but broadens the focus from firms to include lawyers as well. Finally, Section III considers the credentials of lawyers active in the international legal services market. The analysis is based on two ongoing empirical studies, one of which examines the credentials of lawyers working in the foreign offices of U.S. law firms and the other focusing on foreign law graduates who earn a U.S. law school LL.M. degree, the one-year post-J.D. degree aimed at foreign law graduates. The article concludes with some thoughts on the challenges facing U.S.-based firms as they respond to globalization by adding local lawyers to their rosters and local advisory services to their offerings. In becoming more local, the firms must struggle to maintain and redefine their U.S. identities.
There are doubtless many practical and professional problems that arise in the global legal practice, but this paper suggests that not least of these are issues of legal ethics, in part generated by the global context and not easily amenable to resolution by reference to any single code within the "home" or "host" jurisdiction. For example, there may be difficulties in isolating precisely what those ethical obligations might comprise. These obligations might be rooted in the requirements of local law, but they might arise equally from the values and expectations of the client, or from other lawyers whether inside or outside of the firm in question. The common expectation of regulatory control exercised by a professional bar may be replaced by a fluidity in which clearly defined rules and duties are not easily discernible. The questions that this paper seeks to answer are: How might lawyers best be provided with and follow ethical approaches appropriate to the delivery of global legal services, and what is the role that firms might play in achieving this?
This article addresses the following question: Is Global Law merely a trendy theory, or are there concrete and factual elements allowing submission of irrefutable evidence of a movement toward the creation of a stand-alone international legal system? In this piece, Le Goff explores the idea of global law, and whether a harmonized scheme based on converging national laws and practices, international custom and values, among others, is emerging in the global economy. The first part of the article attempts to define the notion of global law, and to distinguish global law from other disciplines claiming a direct link to or regulatory effect over international matters, such as the lex mercatoria. The second part of the article looks at the process of creating global law through an analysis of the role played by international institutions and law practitioners in shaping its contents. Included is discussion concerning whether global law meets the formality criteria required to qualify as a self-standing legal field.
This Note argues that cases like the humanitarian crisis and the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, present an intrastate collective action problem that has not been satisfactorily addressed by a traditional multilateral approach. Instead, the Darfur crisis demonstrates the need for an expanded view of modern international law in the face of intrastate conflict that includes systematic intervention procedures and preventive aid, as well as a multifaceted approach that recognizes and integrates NGOs and NGO alliances. This Note asserts that the Sudan crisis has posed a collective action problem requiring not only multilateral state collective action, but also multifaceted, coordinated action between states and the proliferation of nonstate actors that have emerged from globalization. Part I provides background on the genocide in Sudan and demonstrates that this conflict is one of a number of recent intrastate conflicts. It argues that intrastate conflicts and humanitarian crises are collective action problems. Part II argues that humanitarian crises and internal wars require new international law that encourages collective, preventive aid and systemized preemptive intervention procedures. Part III argues that these newer "collective actions" under international law should involve coordinated action between states and NGOs.