Law firms use international expansion to merge with other firms as the fastest and simplest way to grow their business. With the legal industry recovering from the recession, firms forming alliances with international firms provides access to new markets and clients to build its brand and work with thousands of lawyers. Legal experts expect more international expansions and cross-border mergers from law firms in 2013. Firms that have frequently expanded through international mergers include: Baker & McKenzie LLP, DLA Piper, and a U.K. based firm, Clifford Chance.
International Expansion Destinations
In the past, international expansions have been targeted toward large, financial centers of the world. In the 80s and 90s, the top places to expand were London, Paris, and Germany. Hong Kong became a popular destination in the 2000s, and continues to be even today. The Pacific Rim, which includes countries like Japan, China, Singapore and Australia, has been alluring to law firms in recent times due to their remarkable legal sector. Now, law firms are looking to expand in other eastern countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Mongolia. The goal for many firms is to move away from solely setting up mergers in financial center cities, and placing lawyers on the ground wherever clients are doing business and will need assistance. Businesses are opening locations in Mexico, investing in mines in Australia and Colombia, and hydroelectric projects in Africa.
International Expansion Risks
Despite all the positivity from international expansions, there are risks that may arise from a merger. It may be difficult to integrate attorneys, staff, and technology from all of the firms into one unified system. There is also the risk of power struggles that can erupt between mergers. Finally, there is no guarantee that both sides will perform better by forming the merger. Overall, with the world becoming more connected than ever, international expansions are a great way for law firms to gain access to different legal markets, and grow their businesses in different ways.
To learn more on international expansion, read the 10 key steps for growing an international office from the American Bar Association.