Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Right-Sizing" Legal Services and Our Approach to Cross-Border Legal Practice

The legal profession in the US continues to struggle to find its way in the face of companies and capable in-house counsel who are taking firmer control of their legal needs and destinies.

The legal press has been abuzz in the last several months over the continued progress in "right-sizing" legal work, recognizing that fixed and alternative fee arrangements (no, not new, but now pursued with new-found urgency), legal process outsourcing form India (Thompson-Reuter's acquisition of Pangea3 is causing many skeptics to finally take serious notice), temporary lawyer services (in some cases delivered with increasing sophistication and marketing polish) and alternative law practices are part of a movement away from the traditional ways of doing legal business.

Welcome to our world, in our case by re-imagining how cross-border legal services can be delivered more effectively and efficiently. Not just since the beginning of this particular recession, but since our founding back in the mid-1990s.

In October, Hildebrandt Baker Robbins released a Law Department Survey of 252 companies in 23 industries that, as a Hildebrandt blogger describes it, "provides strong evidence of the economic drivers for the transformational changes rippling through the legal industry."

For example, favored in-house cost management techniques now include implementing alternative fee arrangements (by 76% of those surveyed), keeping more work in-house (by 69%), and using regional or boutique law firms (by 68% of those surveyed).

We have been strong believers in the need for change in the legal profession, and while our true secret sauce lies in our methodologies for delivering our senior, hands-on, more streamlined approach to solving cross-border legal issues, cost-effectiveness is an important outcome of our services.

And of course we hope to continue to be just that sort of "boutique" practice that is in increasing use by internationalizing companies!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Global Foreign Direct Investment on the Rise

Our November newsletter offered both statistics on the rise of global foreign direct investment from the lows of last year, as well as a link to our article on the use of the Netherlands as a holding company for foreign investors.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mumbai Rises

I just returned from Mumbai (and Singapore), where I was joined by our Netherlands-based colleague for presentations to corporate audiences and individual meetings with clients and contacts.

The mood is optimistic. The Oberoi Hotel just re-opened. Breakfast at the Taj Hotel is a gracious as ever. Private equity is moving ahead with fresh rounds of investment.

My lost iPhone was rescued by a taxi driver and returned to the Four Seasons, where I was able to retrieve it. OK, all is not perfect - I missed my flight out of Mumbai.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Think Again Before Specifying US Courts in a Cross-Border Agreement

As I have written in the past, we seldom recommend that clients specify US courts as the choice for dispute resolution in cross-border agreements that may need to be enforced in another country. Not to single out China, but the China research below confirms an enforcement issue that US parties face in most countries.

Arbitral awards are simply a better enforcement bet among the many signatory countries to the New York Convention – enforcement is required by the Convention in the absence of fraud and other specified instances. By contrast, the enforcement of US court judgments is discretionary and usually based in part on whether the US has enforced judgments from the other country on a reciprocal basis.

Back in June, 2007, I posted a blog entry referring to a search for even a single example of a US court judgment that has been enforced in China. The search was posted by Don Clarke, a George Washington Law School professor who moderates an excellent China law discussion group. As far as I know, nobody in the discussion group was able to produce a single example.

A member of the China discussion group just posted (on March 1) his own preliminary review of the 26 foreign court judgments and 16 arbitral awards that he could locate that requested enforcement in China through Chinese courts. The member is Wei Luo, Director of Technical Services and Lecturer in Law, Washington University School of Law Library.

Mr. Luo found that almost all of the Chinese courts agreed to enforce the foreign court judgments if requested by a Chinese applicant. Yet, he did not find a single instance of enforcement if the applicant was a foreign party and the Chinese party did not agree with the enforcement.

In contrast, Mr. Luo found that most of the Chinese courts granted the applications to enforce a foreign arbitral award.

Many are finding that Chinese courts are improving and are becoming more open to arguments presented by foreign parties, and the uncertainty over the enforcement of foreign court judgments is an issue in most countries, not just China.