Abstract

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.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0367
Print ISSN
1080-0727
Pages
pp. 67-93
Launched on MUSE
2007-08-13
Open Access
No
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