The low down

The overheads of a regulation agency workplace are phenomenal. It takes money and time to ascertain a international department – however to win world mandates, elite and aspiring corporations know it’s a must to ‘pay to play’. Or do you? As soon as thought to be the poor relations of world corporations’ worldwide places of work, regulation agency networks now see their star rising. As they share coaching, purchasers and contacts, they achieve this with out the fastened prices of bigger rivals. These produce financial savings they will go on, and within the present setting that may be a message purchasers heat to. However is the entire actually higher than the sum of the elements?

Worldwide regulation networks are within the ascendancy – and Covid-19 is one cause for this. In contrast to world regulation corporations, which depend on their very own places of work in key jurisdictions around the globe, networks are made up of unbiased corporations. Proponents of the mannequin say that the entire is larger than the sum of its elements.

‘Put merely, we obtain extra on a much bigger scale and construct extra sustainable relationships throughout the globe as a member of a community,’ says Michael Pattinson, the Trowers & Hamlins companion who manages the agency’s ‘strategic’ partnership with Interlaw, an ‘elite’ world community of unbiased regulation corporations with 7,500 attorneys primarily based in over 150 cities.

Pattinson, a board director of Interlaw, says: ‘From value saving to enterprise growth alternatives, to peace of thoughts for the consumer in accessing corporations that genuinely perceive the native tradition, the benefits are testomony to the vital function that networks play within the authorized sector proper now.’

Authorized referral networks first emerged within the early 1980s. Many function on the idea of geographic exclusivity (one agency per nation), however others enable member corporations the flexibleness to work with a wide range of counterparts. Networks aren’t simply designed for the smaller outfits with no international outposts and infrequently complement corporations’ personal worldwide choices. Most cost membership charges. 

The agility and adaptability of being a part of a community which works with the “finest at school” in every jurisdiction encourages higher service supply

Michael Pattinson, Trowers & Hamlins

Trowers & Hamlins is the Interlaw member for England and Wales, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE. As Pattinson explains: ‘If a consumer finds that they want our help in a jurisdiction the place we shouldn’t have our personal presence, we’re ready to attract upon our companions within the community.

‘The agility and adaptability of being a part of a community which works with the “finest at school” in every jurisdiction encourages higher service supply.’

Lewis Silkin has been a member of Ius Laboris since 2003. Like Interlaw, the community is a one-member-per-country ‘best-of-breed’ alliance and membership is by invitation, explains Lewis Silkin chair and companion Michael Burd.


The agency was approached about potential membership for the UK in 2003. On the time it was coping with a rising variety of transnational directions by ‘making an attempt to handle, actually, dozens of relationships with single corporations in several international locations’. However that have was ‘at all times dicey’, Burd remembers. ‘We have been contemplating how finest to realize constant high quality of worldwide protection, and to do this with higher ease,’ he says. ‘Opening places of work in a number of international locations is dear, management-intensive and really dangerous. Ius Laboris was the most effective reply for us, and so it has proved to be.   

‘It has made an enormous distinction to us to have an organised and coherent providing globally, and that has proven within the very important progress we’ve skilled in transnational work since changing into a member,’ he provides.

TerraLex describes itself as a ‘voluntary affiliation of unbiased regulation corporations’ and ‘every TerraLex member retains the appropriate to work with any regulation agency or consumer’. For Tim Anderson and Geraldine Elliott, companions at TerraLex member RPC, this flexibility is essential. ‘Typically we’ll discover that if the native member agency doesn’t have the experience to assist on a selected mandate, they’ll know wonderful native attorneys who can,’ says Anderson. ‘This in distinction to “world” corporations, the place there might be stress from HQ to make use of the agency’s native workplace even when which may not at all times provide the most effective resolution for purchasers.’

‘Our view is that networks are more and more coming into their very own and, increasingly more, are being most popular to the standard world or verein mannequin,’ Elliott says. The distinction between a community and a world agency on this measure is the dimensions of jurisdictional attain. TerraLex provides RPC entry to 113 international locations, with round 20,000 attorneys at its disposal.

Charles Brooks is a companion at Pennington Manches and board member of Multilaw, which boasts 90 member corporations throughout greater than 100 jurisdictions, and entry to 10,000 attorneys. ‘Our abroad places of work and membership of Multilaw are a part of our worldwide technique, and can’t be taken in isolation,’ he says. Following the 2019 merger with Thomas Cooper, the agency now has 5 abroad places of work, together with in São Paulo and Madrid, and there has since been ‘a superb cross-fertilisation’ between these places of work and different Multilaw members in South America. ‘I can see that collaboration growing as markets start to open up once more,’ Brooks says.

Even the world’s largest regulation agency is just not eschewing networks; in truth, it has created one. Regardless of having places of work throughout 189 places in 77 international locations, Dentons didn’t have a presence all over the place its purchasers did enterprise. ‘We based Nextlaw Referral Community to offer us the geographic presence and subject material experience to make it extra seemingly that we might have entry to precisely the identical expertise for our purchasers’ necessities wherever we do enterprise,’ says Nextlaw CEO Paul Hatch. It’s by far the most important regulation community at present, contends Hatch, with corporations in 200 international locations and greater than 35,000 attorneys. It doesn’t cost any charges and accepts ‘any regulation agency, no matter measurement or location’ that gives high quality consumer service. Furthermore, it doesn’t enable anyone member to get pleasure from geographic exclusivity.

So what are the advantages to member corporations? Primary is referrals. Networks feed on ‘longstanding and shut relationships’ between members and the ‘confidence to suggest our companions and purchasers to these contacts [and vice versa]’, says Brooks.  

Benefits additionally derive from ‘a lot higher professionalism’ in how these associations are run. The Multilaw ‘world workplace’, for instance, has grown from one worker to a workers of 5 since Brooks’ agency joined the community in 2000.


Covid-19 attracts corporations into world assist orbit 

Amid the challenges of Covid-19, membership of a community has been useful to many corporations. ‘This setting the place worldwide journey has shuddered to a halt has illustrated the worth, significance and modern-day relevance of having the ability to draw on native authorized experience with out truly having to be there,’ says Geraldine Elliott, companion at TerraLex member RPC. TerraLex held the primary regulation agency community digital convention in June. Greater than 500 folks registered, and it occurred over three days. ‘This stage of curiosity reveals how vital networks have change into, particularly in occasions of restricted journey,’ she says.

‘The pandemic has created many alternatives for our community,’ says Trowers & Hamlins’ Michael Pattinson. ‘Now we aren’t so closely reliant on bodily conferences, we’re interacting by video, by textual content and calls frequently.’ The agency is a member of Interlaw.

Coaching, and enterprise growth conferences are occurring extra often now that members have ‘the flexibleness and [fewer] time constraints related to bodily travelling to totally different places’, in keeping with Pattinson. The disaster had additionally allowed members to get nearer to their world purchasers. ‘With digital communication now the norm, distance is now not a problem,’ he says.

For Jon Heuvel, companion at Multilaw member Shakespeare Martineau, ‘the necessity to depend on video conferencing as a method of communication has enabled us to “meet” extra often than ever with our worldwide colleagues’. Embracing this chance, Multilaw has held a spread of on-line occasions – from casual drinks to panel discussions and visitor audio system. Final month, for instance, the community’s EMEA area ‘met’ to listen to a particular presentation from Professor Caitlin Moon on the Vanderbilt Legislation College on ‘Shopper-Centred Lawyering within the [post] Covid Regular’, with greater than 60 attendees. ‘Even our skill to recruit new members has not been dampened,’ says Heuvel, declaring that Multilaw’s latest member agency was confirmed final month.

‘Our community wouldn’t thrive if we weren’t assiduous about high quality management. All of the corporations within the community are in tier one or two of their jurisdictions and need to undergo a rigorous qualification course of earlier than being welcomed into TerraLex,’ says Anderson. ‘We additionally know the member corporations very nicely by conferences and numerous follow and business teams organized by TerraLex. This private connection is of big significance when entrusting consumer relationships.’

One other main advantage of networks is assist on bidding for work. TerraLex has three enterprise growth administrators.

Multilaw affords member assist on enterprise growth, advertising and marketing and joint pitches. ‘We have now led or been concerned in tenders and joint tasks the place response time in addition to value has been essential,’ says Brooks, claiming that Multilaw has ‘constantly been quicker within the provide of a bid to a young than a few of our bigger multinational rivals’.

Jon Heuvel, an employment companion at Shakespeare Martineau and regional chair for EMEA at Multilaw, says: ‘It’s now typically the case {that a} consumer will choose a community over a world regulation agency, as a result of it typically affords extra engaging hourly charges, extra flexibility and advisers who’re extra embedded within the native jurisdiction than the outpost of a global agency. We… can pull collectively a multi-jurisdictional staff at very quick discover.’ For instance, because of Multilaw, Heuvel’s agency was capable of safe FTSE 250 Video games Workshop as a consumer forward of different multinational regulation corporations. ‘Inside 48 hours of being contacted, we had an entire consumer staff in place throughout each jurisdiction, and an agreed methodology for venture administration,’ says Heuvel.

Networks satisfaction themselves on providing different companies – for instance, TerraLex has ‘platforms’ for members’ managing companions, and enterprise growth, HR and IT professionals to share concepts and developments of their jurisdictions. Multilaw offers succession-planning assist; youthful associates can take part within the annual Multilaw Academy (a week-long sensible coaching course for associates from member corporations) and in its Younger Legal professionals Group.

‘We’re seeing many extra attendees at on-line conferences than we’ve had previously at precise conferences,’ says Brooks. This has fostered innovation and exercise: however the lockdown, the Multilaw world workplace has been ‘actually busy organising and supporting the follow teams’ and not too long ago added a brand new follow space devoted to ‘style’.

Chris Marston, chief government of LawNet, says take-up of the community’s on-line studying programme, launched quickly after lockdown and working by to July, was ‘excellent’: some 43 programs acquired greater than 1,100 registrations. ‘Our autumn and winter programme of 30 occasions acquired over 1,000 registrations inside a fortnight of launch,’ he provides.

Community members have derived different advantages in the course of the disaster. Burd says: ‘As a result of the consequences of the pandemic have impacted on employment and dealing practices so considerably, the flexibility of Ius Laboris members to share experiences and public info helpful to purchasers who’re battling office challenges throughout dozens of jurisdictions has been actually useful.’

Lockdown has additionally made know-how an much more integral a part of worldwide regulation networks. ‘Data know-how has radically shrunk the world over the past twenty years and continues to take action,’ says Hatch, who argues that networks play an vital function in that course of by permitting a agency wherever on the earth to work with one other agency wherever else.

Additionally, with a referral logging and monitoring system and dashboard, Dentons and different member corporations are ready shortly to see which referrals have been made and acquired to and from which corporations, and determine patterns in workflows. This will help inform enterprise selections on staffing, follow space protection, and future follow and placement growth, in keeping with Hatch.

Nextlaw’s members profit from ‘most popular entry and pricing’ to services and products from Dentons’ Nextlaw Labs, a authorized enterprise accelerator that works with tech startups.

Interlaw’s non-public members’ portal acts as a regulation agency intranet, and likewise incorporates a consumer administration and suggestions system to assist members monitor progress on multi-jurisdictional consumer tasks and issues, explains Brooks. TerraLex, for its half, has an association with HighQ, whereby members are given free entry to the Thomson Reuters cloud-based platform, which units out to facilitate doc and staff collaboration, authorized venture administration and consumer engagement.

So how finest to take advantage of regulation networks? Choose one fastidiously. Worldwide regulation networks fluctuate ‘considerably’, with ‘many simply being glorified referral networks that succeed to a higher or lesser extent’, says Burd. ‘The actual fact Ius Laboris specialises in a single discrete space of regulation [employment] helps us to face out in a world the place in-house counsel authorized departments have gotten ever extra refined in how they select outdoors counsel,’ he says.

Different networks are full-service, providing a wide range of follow and sector teams – from banking and finance, to litigation and mental property.

‘The higher your engagement with the community the extra worth you’ll derive from it,’ Elliott says. Not solely is one among RPC’s companions, Tim Anderson, TerraLex chair, a number of others lead business and follow teams ‘so our presence is robust and visibility excessive’, she says.

It is usually vital to ‘promote’, or promote the community, each internally to as many individuals throughout the agency as potential, and externally. ‘We speak to purchasers about TerraLex and embody reference in our pitch paperwork,’ says Anderson.

Hatch urges attorneys not simply to participate in conferences held by the community, but additionally ‘to achieve out to different members that you’ve met to the touch base. Use your agency’s CRM system, and even only a spreadsheet, to maintain observe of your outreach and what you understand about every particular person. Ask how they’re doing, about any developments or fascinating latest tales in relation to their hobbies or affiliation memberships which you might have chatted about in prior conversations.’

The thought is to ‘cement in different members’ minds the areas of experience which can be your agency’s power’. So one other suggestion is providing to be on a committee on the community or to assist pilot or implement a brand new software or course of to assist elevate your agency’s profile amongst different members, Hatch advises.  

When travelling ‘in a non-pandemic world’ for work or vacation, plan forward and meet up with member corporations for a espresso and chat to get to know one another higher and ‘solidify enterprise relationships’, Hatch additionally recommends.  

Additionally, share finest follow on methods of working, together with advertising and marketing and enterprise growth actions, variety, group initiatives and billing best-practice. ‘Companions wish to be sure that their purchasers’ wants are being met by colleagues they belief, and belief is earned by changing into conversant in one another and constructing key relationships,’ Pattinson says.  

Brooks emphasises the significance of getting ‘an applicable funds’ to make sure common participation in and contribution to the community’s affairs and to regulate your returns. That mentioned, ‘in sure jurisdictions one will at all times be a internet giver of referrals somewhat than a receiver’, he says. He additionally advises members to ‘frequently self-appraise as towards your worldwide methods and make sure the community operates an efficient member appraisal system’.

Lastly, take the chance to be taught that issues are completed very in another way in other places. ‘None of us has all of the solutions or does the whole lot in one of the best ways,’ Burd says. 


Marialuisa Taddia is a contract journalist