30 Jan 2014

Law Firms Eye International Expansion in 2014

As more and more law firms, buoyed with new year confidence, look to expand their global footprints in 2014, translation and multilingual support is becoming an increasingly important part of firms’ strategies.

Indeed, 2012 research from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that law firms view international expansion as a ‘strategic priority’, with many leading companies sourcing more than 40% of their fee income from their international operations and some firms planning to merge with or acquire an international firm by 2015.

But challenges remain. What’s the best way to set up shop in a completely new market, or to cement a growing position in one? Should it be through simply opening a new office in a new country, setting up alliances or trying to do it from the domestic office?

And what’s the best way to ensure you offer clients a professional service? With global commerce on the rise and an increasingly diverse global population, it is crucial that law firms operating in new countries ensure that multilingual contracts, legal documents, forms and tenders are part of their everyday workflow.

Growing through integration

The latest law firm to grow its presence overseas is law firm Clifford Chance, which has struck a deal with Indonesian firm Linda Widyati & Partners as it sets its sights on growing its presence in Asia Pacific.

The association will allow the two firms to work together to provide clients with ‘integrated advice’ on Indonesian and international law.

Peter Charlton, Clifford Chance’s managing partner for Asia Pacific, said: “The establishment of this association signals our commitment to provide our clients with world-class legal advice to meet their evolving needs in this dynamic market.”

This is a good example of growth through integration and alliance. Instead of launching headlong – and alone – into a brand-new market, harness the insight and expertise of a domestic company in a collaborative alliance that is beneficial to both parties.

The launch of Clifford’s association with LWP follows several other initiatives across Asia Pacific to help grow its operations in the region.

These moves include the firm’s Formal Law Alliance with boutique litigation practice Cavenagh Law in Singapore; the opening of the firm’s Seoul office; and the launch of an Australian practice in Sydney and Perth in 2011.

Translation – things to think about

Growth in overseas business means a rise in demand for legal translators and accurately translated legal documents. In the field of law, clarity and communication are key.

Focus points:

If you have high volumes of work, do you opt for machine or human translation? Remember that while machine translation might be cheap, it can be fraught with errors. Working with a professional translation firm is the best way to ensure your legal documents are properly translated.

Some cases are complex and global. Have you thought about how interpreters and translation services could help you manage such multi-layered projects?

Remember that global businesses must often meet regulatory compliance requirements. This might require you to translate documents into another language.


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