US law firms not seeking foreign clients are leaving 16% of potential firm revenue on the table

by @JohnGrimley

A recent article by Tom Stringer, Global Site Selection and Business Incentives Consultant at US Tax advisory services provider Ryan – provides superb insight for US lawyers seeking to identify and secure specific foreign companies as clients amid profound growth in foreign investment into the US.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Specifically, Stringer cites statistics published by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, which outline that “In 2013 alone, international firms invested $236 billion in the U.S. economy, a 35 percent increase from 2012.”  And as the report details: “The United States is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world.”

A veritable roadmap for any US lawyer seeking to build a client base from foreign investment

What’s interesting about Stringer’s article is that combining his expertise with statistics from the US Government – he outlines the prime foreign country sources of this investment, which sectors account for most of this investment, and key state recipients of this investment.  It’s a veritable roadmap for any US lawyer seeking to build a client base from foreign investment.

Notably, Stringer also outlines what specific states are doing to create incentives to attract more foreign investment.  Any lawyer, anywhere in America – can seek to generate a client base from the investors these statistics are based on.  And a final statistic worth pondering is this:  “Foreign direct investment (FDI) in U.S. businesses, measured on a cumulative stock basis, reached $2.7 trillion at the end of 2012, which is equivalent to about 16 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.”  What that means generally is:  If your US law firm is not seeking to generate new business from foreign investment, you are leaving 16% of potential firm revenue on the table.

Going forward

Most US law practices will have not just one but many specialisms of significant value to foreign investors new to doing business in the United States.  Just as much as your US clients need your services, foreign investors may need them more.  A variety of strategies can and should be employed to identify, pursue and capture business from this foreign investment into the US.  But as 16% of the US economy is comprised from foreign investment sources – law firms not focused with a high degree of precision on this already — should now immediately re-orient their focus and strategy to remain competitive in a future that will no doubt see more US GDP coming from foreign investment, not less.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400Based on more than 13 years experience with hundreds of lawyer clients from throughout the world, John Grimley counsels law firms, law firm practice groups and individual lawyers on best practices in generating new business in international markets.  You can reach him at: jg@jgrimley.com or on: +1 (213) 814-2855 or on +852 8170 3909 or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

Lawyers: 5 blogging topics that will attract foreign clients

by @JohnGrimley

As recent reports reflect, the demand for legal services is continuing to globalize.  Within this development lies opportunity for lawyers to expand their foreign clients base.  One excellent method to help lawyers gain the attention of foreign clients is a law blog.  Any law firm in any jurisdiction in the world can seek to attract and retain foreign clients.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????But what to blog about?  In a nutshell, foreign clients are most apt to seek the services of lawyers with a demonstrated expertise in the legal specialisms they might need in their effort to enter or expand into a particular jurisdiction.

These services can encompass many specialisms.  But more often than not – the specialisms that will be the first a foreign client will use will often revolve around any legal work associated with commercial business activity, assuming your client is a business.  And business owners more often than not seek lawyers who are strategic business advisors to their clients.  Therefore, lawyers seeking to attract the attention of foreign clients would be wise to first seeking to be a conduit to commercial opportunities for clients in your home jurisdiction.

  1. Local government contracting opportunities – In many jurisdictions around the world, government contracting represents a significant percentage of GDP.  Government contracts often represent a very lucrative opportunity for foreign companies.  And whether your law firm maintains a government contracts practice or not, blogging about it will attract foreign clients as it’s information about opportunity in your market.
  2. Trends in local mergers and acquisitions – Many foreign corporations interested in entering or expanding in a foreign jurisdiction are very interested in local mergers, acquisitions or joint-venture partnerships as a means by which to enter a new market.  Seek to be a regular conduit to this information.
  3. Trends in local corporate litigation — One of the most significant concerns any foreign corporate executives have in considering whether to enter a foreign market – is risk.  And in many markets – that risk comes in the form of tort or other litigation risk exposure.  Firms who blog about means by which to ameliorate litigation risk for foreign clients would certainly gain the attention of foreign corporate clients.
  4. News about local trade shows & trade associations – Commercial opportunities showcased by local trade associations and in trade shows and events are an excellent topic to blog about.  This demonstrates to foreign clients via your blog that your law firm maintains up-to-date knowledge of key commercial topics, trade and industry sector leaders and the comprehensive issues surrounding foreign corporate access to your market.
  5. Local legislative or regulatory trends —  Local legislative and regulatory changes, trends and updates are all very valuable information for foreign companies interested in doing business in any jurisdiction.  A law firm demonstrating a knowledge of this sometimes fast-changing dynamic will without question be a law firm foreign companies will seek to know and engage in your jurisdiction.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley advises law firms, lawyers and law firm practice groups on best practices in international legal business development.  He’s help law firms adopt and publish law blogs in the United States, the European Union, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.  If you’d like to adopt or improve a law blog, you can reach him on:  Tel: US +1.213.814.2855, +852 8170 3909 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

Lawyers: 5 ways to prepare for a meeting with a potential client

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????by @JohnGrimley

A recent article by Jennifer Smith (@SmithJenBK) in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog outlines advice for law firms from Gregory B. Jordan,  former global managing partner of Reed Smith LLP and now general counsel of PNC Financial Services Group Inc – on to secure the attention of clients.  Jordan’s advice includes:

  • “Bone up on your client’s industry, and make sure your partners do too, so you can advise them on what hurdles are lurking around the corner…
  • If you can tell a chief executive how spending $500,000 now will save them from making a $2 million mistake later, that’s value…
  • Anticipate needs [clients] may not know they have yet…
  • Quick, timely updates on regulatory shifts…are useful…Reams of glossy marketing material, not so much.”

With Jordan’s advice in mind, it’s important for lawyers to carefully consider what business clients truly want from their lawyers.  They expect superb legal services.  But what they want in addition to superb legal services – is a lawyer that also understands their business and can provide strategic counsel. Lawyers, therefore, should carefully consider how they prepare for meetings with new prospective clients.   Here’s 5 ways to prepare for meetings with prospective clients that will ensure they know you provide the critical value-add they seek:

  1. Study prospective client company – Prepare a comprehensive backgrounder on your client and his or her business.  What industry sector do they operate in?  What trends are impacting that sector in your jurisdiction where you might provide help? What is their corporate financial picture? Healthy company? Heavily regulated industry? etc… Why are these questions important?  They provide you with a road-map of where you can provide value-add strategic counsel.
  2. Identify commercial opportunities in your market — Perhaps the most valuable information your prospective client can receive from you in any meeting is counsel on what opportunities might exist for them in your market.  Are there any unique acquisition opportunities you are aware of?  Are there any tax or regulatory concessions being provided by national or local governments to foreign companies seeking to do business in your jurisdiction?  There are hundreds of potential examples here.
  3. Identify commercial dangers in your market – As much as opportunities are helpful to potential clients – so are a knowledge of dangers.  In fact, clients may even be more appreciative of your outline of dangers than opportunities.  When clients are considering entering or expanding in your market – knowing of litigation risk, HR legal risk, regulatory and political risk – is extraordinarily valuable to them.  Again, the list is endless.
  4. Seek to identify where your practice areas can help client commercial objectives — When meeting with a prospective client – provide an overview of opportunity and risk in your market specific to the client. Explain how your services can help the client ameliorate those risks and capitalize upon those opportunities — with your help.
  5. Prepare a one-pager on you and your firm for the client — Clients will appreciate brevity in this area – as well as a one-pager that is presented in such a fashion as to make it clear your firm is aware of the potential clients commercial posture and possible goals and concerns in your jurisdiction.  A one-pager organized around these themes will uniquely distinguish your firm among competitors in the client’s mind.

DSCF2250 (3)John Grimley counsels lawyers and law firms on best practices in generating new foreign clients.  His experience spans more than 15 years where, while based in Europe, the United States and the Asia-Pacific Region, he’s worked closely with hundreds of lawyers to help build their global client base.  To learn more about how he might help you to build your foreign client base, you may reach him on: Email: jg@jgrimley.com, Skype: JohnGrimley, Tel: +1 (213) 814-2855, +852 8170 3909

Lawyers: 5 things you must do when meeting with prospective clients

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????by @JohnGrimley

For business-focused lawyers, the process of winning new business can be made easier if tried-and-tested best practices are adopted and utilized.  As a follow-up to my last post entitled: Lawyers: 5 places to find new foreign clients, I’ve compiled  below a list of 5 things business-focused lawyers truly must do when meeting with prospective clients:

  1. Listen first, speak second — When business-focused lawyers meet with new prospective clients – the most important thing they should do is listen.  Corporate clients are seeking lawyers who are not just excellent legal practitioners – but perhaps more importantly, strategic business advisors.  When meeting to discuss representation and remuneration, clients will often have more than one issue or goal they may need your assistance with.  It’s important to listen first to help potential clients fully outline their needs and goals before you seek to discuss how you might be in a position to help.  Don’t focus much on your biography but instead more on solutions for your prospective client’s needs.
  2. Take notes for multiple uses later – This may sound like an obvious thing to do, but it’s important to remind lawyers of the multiple uses for these notes after a meeting.  Remembering what happened in the meeting.  That’s a given.  But also:  The notes are imperative also as they will serve as the basis for a custom proposal (thereby making the client acquisition process easier).  Also and importantly, take notes because you want to remember what business objectives the client has – so you can follow-up regularly whether they become your client now or not – where you can help the prospective client achieve those commercial objectives with your services.
  3. Seek first to be a conduit to commercial opportunity – The most important thing lawyers can do when seeking to serve the needs of business clients is to be a conduit to commercial opportunity for those clients.  Clients will expect your legal services to be superb.  What distinguishes lawyers and law firms in the business development process is your comprehension of client commercial objectives and your ability to be the most sophisticated counsel to clients in this area.  For international lawyers, being a comprehensive advisor to foreign clients seeking to expand in or enter your market is the single most important thing I can advise any lawyer to become.
  4. Price your services to the market – You are likely to be familiar with the trend in law toward flat-fee pricing of legal services.  Yes, this is an important trend you should be paying close attention to.  But what business clients are most interested in – is fair and reasonable pricing of services, whether those prices are flat-fee or hourly.  What’s more important is pricing your services to the market.  And in this context it’s vital to understand that clients will pay value-based prices for lawyers who are clearly not just lawyers but comprehensive, trusted business advisors.
  5. Ask for the work – It is vital as a part of the process where you’ve taken the time to identify and meet with a prospective client – to not hesitate to ask to be engaged by that client.  Lawyers can often be reticent to ask to be retained.  However, if they are confident they are providing the client with assistance which will help that client achieve vital commercial objectives, that reticence will recede and confidence about asking for the business will ensue.

10410403_538969076205605_1817142706317518592_nJohn Grimley counsels lawyers and law firms on best practices in generating new foreign clients.  His experience spans more than 15 years where, while based in Europe, the United States and the Asia-Pacific Region, he’s worked closely with hundreds of lawyers to help build their global client base.  To learn more about how he might help you to build your foreign client base, you may reach him on: Email: jg@jgrimley.com, Skype: JohnGrimley, Tel: +1 (213) 814-2855, +852 8170 3909

Lawyers: 5 places to find new foreign clients

by @JohnGrimley

As recent reports indicate, the demand for legal services is continuing to globalize. And while many of these reports tend to focus on work associated with larger law firms – lawyers in firms of all sizes can benefit from the globalization of legal services.  With this in mind, below I’ve listed 5 basic places lawyers can look to find new foreign clients.  Keep in mind that any business development plan a lawyers is seeking to initiate must be carefully tailored to his or her own practice.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????1. Google Them – This may sound simple.  But it requires an understanding of who and what you want to Google.  Essentially, if you’re working in or running a business-focused law firm anywhere in the world – you want to begin seeking to identify which companies are looking to expand in or enter your market.  Google allows you to search not just news stories but also blogposts and websites which provide this information, and save those searches which can be sent directly to your email address at intervals you choose.

2. Trade Associations & Trade Shows – All around the world trade associations, whether private or governmental, actively seek to help member companies, among other things, expand overseas.  Here I’d suggest first determining what countries represent the largest sources of foreign direct investment into your country – and then seek to identify trade associations in those countries.  This search can be expanded later after this initial first-step.  Too, trade shows in your own country and in neighboring countries, present a cost-effective means by which to get in front of not only foreign but also domestic firms seeking new market share.  Attend those most suited to your ideal prospective client base.

3. Other Professional Services Firms — Seek to identify law firms, investment banks, accounting firms and other professional services firms within those foreign economies that are a main source of inbound investment, and where those firms would appear to be ideal referral partners.  Get to know a good representative group and determine their interest in an active, joint business development effort.  Developing an active bilateral business development effort with foreign services firms can and should be an important focus for any lawyer or law firm seeking to generate business from new foreign markets.

4. International Newspapers and Magazines – Via the internet and in print, newspapers and specialist publications related to the sectors your ideal clients are in – are an excellent way to not only identify new potential clients – but also to learn about the overall commercial context these companies are operating in.  These publications will frequently carry stories related to cross-border trade an investment, which helps provide the all-important bigger picture.

5. Foreign Embassies or Consulates — Wherever you are in the world – it’s likely that many foreign countries that are a source of investment into yours – will have an embassy or consulate representing not just the diplomatic, but also the commercial interests of their country.  Get to know the embassy or consulate staff.  Learn of trade missions and opportunities to meet with foreign companies.

Build a basic effort first then expand it later

The above list is a basic starting point for lawyers to find foreign clients.  Importantly, lawyers should also seek to tailor their practices to make them a conduit to opportunity for foreign clients.  In later posts I’ll delve more deeply into each of these themes and how lawyers can utilize each to build or expand upon an already existing foreign client base.

10410403_538969076205605_1817142706317518592_nJohn Grimley counsels lawyers and law firms on best practices in generating new foreign clients.  His experience spans more than 15 years where, while based in Europe, the United States and the Asia-Pacific Region, he’s worked closely with hundreds of lawyers to help build their global client base.  To learn more about how he might help you to build your foreign client base, you may reach him on: Email: jg@jgrimley.com, Skype: JohnGrimley, Tel: US: +1 (213) 814-2855. Tel: Hong Kong: + 852 8170 3909

Thailand Infrastructure: A Case Study in Legal Business Development

from Hong Kong (by @JohnGrimley)

A recent news article shared by Australia-based legal business development professional Richard Smith (@RWS_01) in the LinkedIn Group Asia Law Portal, highlights a not uncommon occurrence in the world of legal business development:  One government lobbying another government for access to lucrative government contracting opportunities.  The relationship to legal business development revolves around what firms might — but more often — don’t do, don’t consider doing, or don’t know how to do – to secure work around a diplomatic initiative aimed at carving out opportunity for one nations private sector within another nations public sector.

A Thailand infrastructure opportunity

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In the case at hand, as the Bangkok Post reported: UK ambassador to Thailand Mark Kent (@KentBKK) met with Thailand, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong last week “to express UK interest in investing in several projects, including track improvement, Suvarnabhumi airport and deep-sea ports.”  Thailand infrastructure needs are part of a wider Southeast Asia infrastructure boom that McKinsey & Company estimated in 2011 to be worth $8 trillion (USD) during the course of this decade “to remedy historical underinvestment and accommodate the explosion in demand.”  A clearly profound opportunity for law firms seeking to serve the legal needs of those companies who might secure the work associated with this infrastructure boom.

Government initiatives require private sector follow-through

Initiatives like the one Ambassador Kent has undertaken on behalf of the UK are frequently within the portfolio of foreign diplomats seeking to secure opportunity for home-nation industry.  But what is also essential in most of these initiatives — is informed and robust follow-up by the private sector to secure these opportunities, law firms included.

The role for law firms

Many if not most within the legal services sector might see this set of circumstances as a place where global law firms with a footprint in Asia, or UK Magic Circle firms, or local Thai boutiques – would be placing this opportunity in a “to-do” list for future action when and if their existing clients or network of relationships within industries likely to bid – have tendered for and secured this work.  Beyond that – firms might monitor these developments and host seminars associated with the opportunity.  Perhaps even writing articles about them for trade publications or a firm blog with an aim of being thought of when and if UK firms secure tenders.  And while this is a good legal business development focus – it only scratches the surface of what law firms might do to secure work around this and other Southeast Asian infrastructure development.

The backdrop: Asia’s competitive legal services market

As has been widely reported – foreign law firms and regional domestic law firms – as well as alternative legal services providers – are all now competing for work in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.  The opportunity which is the subject of this post – will now possibly be on the radar screen of not only the traditional incumbent competitor law firms I’ve enumerated above – but also the Big4 accounting firms, other consulting practices capable of deploying legal talent to serve corporates competing to secure infrastructure work, and other foreign and regional domestic law firms.

What law firms might do differently to win the business

Given the enormity of  Southeast Asia’s infrastructure opportunity and the competitive pressures being brought to bear by all seeking to secure a piece of the proverbial legal services pie in Asia – law firms might consider a far more sophisticated, scientific and systematic business development effort aimed at securing infrastructure work.  This effort would be characterized by seeking to identify infrastructure opportunities and the companies (whether clients or not) who might seek to bid on the work – then proactively seeking to engage these firms around discussions where, armed with tendering opportunities you’ve identified – your firm essentially becomes a conduit to opportunity, catapulting itself over your law firm competitors and becoming perhaps the sole bearer of newly actionable opportunity in Southeast Asia infrastructure opportunity for your clients and ideal prospective clients.

I have written at some length about this type of process – which would include a law firm establishing a specialized on-the-ground Competitive Intelligence (CI) initiative devoted to Asia infrastructure – sitting within your overall business development effort.  I call this effort Demand Creation for law firms, which I have also written about at length previously.

Match profound opportunity with profound effort

At the end of the day – the opportunity for law firms in Asian infrastructure is profound, but the competitive pressures associated with securing legal work around it are already increasing and bound to increase more. Hence, law firms seeking to secure work around this opportunity would be wise to deploy a sophisticated, informed and proactive effort.  For more information on the details of this type of effort, please see:

John Grimley

John Grimley

John Grimley assists lawyers, law firm practice groups and law firms create and implement custom international business development plans.   To enquire about his services, contact him at Tel:  US: +1 (213) 814-2855 Hong Kong: + 852 8170 3909, or Email: jg@jgrimley.com, or by Skype: JohnGrimley

Why sophisticated content wins the attention of the General Counsel

by @JohnGrimley

A recent article by Jennifer Smith (@SmithJenBK) in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog outlines advice for law firms from Gregory B. Jordan,  former global managing partner of Reed Smith LLP and now general counsel of PNC Financial Services Group Inc – on how best to go about attracting the attention of the General Counsel.  Here are some excerpts from Mr Jordan’s advice:

John Grimley at the Office of the General Counsel, The Wold Bank, Bangkok, November, 20, 2014

John Grimley at the Office of the General Counsel, The World Bank, Bangkok, November, 20, 2014

  • “Quick, timely updates on regulatory shifts…are useful…Reams of glossy marketing material, not so much.”
  • “Accounting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers are “eating law firms’ lunch” when it comes to briefing clients on upcoming challenges—including regulatory and legal shifts. “They have armies of brilliant people who are focused on the business in the way that law firms, even the best ones, just aren’t,'”
  • ‘Specific expertise is crucial. Don’t bury clients in a blizzard of press releases about one-off hires in various offices—instead, explain why your lawyers are best-suited to handle a particular matter or issue.”
  • “Bone up on your client’s industry, and make sure your partners do too, so you can advise them on what hurdles are lurking around the corner. If you can tell a chief executive how spending $500,000 now will save them from making a $2 million mistake later, ‘that’s value,'”
  • “Watch out for the Wall Street law firms, which in recent years have ‘really raised their game.’ Instead of just kicking back and counting their millions, elite firms are increasingly offering valuable expert insight—’for no charge’—and also putting in shoe leather work.”
  • “Anticipate needs [clients] may not know they have yet.”

Why sophisticated content will win the attention of the General Counsel

Mr. Jordan’s advice should be read carefully by every lawyer in the world who would seek to serve as outside legal counsel to not only large corporations, but international NGO’s, governmental entities, private equity groups and others.  Based on Mr Jordan’s advice, it’s clear that those law firms who seek to know their potential clients needs and anticipate those needs — then go about creating highly sophisticated, actionable intelligence of high value (eg sophisticated content) to address those needs – will be best placed to win new business from the GC.

A case in point:  The World Bank and the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets

Today I had the opportunity to brief, by invitation, the World Bank Asia-Pacific General Counsel’s office – on the myriad trends shaping the Asia-Pacific legal services market.  Those trends include anything from the changing role of the general counsel in hyper-competitive local legal markets — to patterns in regional foreign direct investment.  These insights are based on  a recent book I authored on the region’s legal markets entitled A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets.  Once invited, I worked closely with the GC’s office to custom-tailor my presentation to their needs – and answered many questions on those topics during that presentation.  My ability to identify what issues may be of importance to the GC then custom-tailor a presentation around those issues was based on my years of experience conducting or participating in these sorts of meetings on behalf of my law firm clients.

While this book required 6 months of work and 90,000 words to complete – it doesn’t require a book of this length, or a book at all – for law firms today to produce sophisticated content the general counsel’s office deems useful enough to warrant an invitation to present the findings.  However, law firms should understand that sophisticated content means well researched to semi-scholarly or scholarly standards, of adequate length and focused on topics of high relevance to their audience.

Can blogposts be sufficient?  Yes in some cases they can be.  However, specialized briefs on narrowly focused topics of exclusive interest to and use by a specific individual or select group of general counsels – may go even further in helping your firm build strong ties with clients.

Use sophisticated content to your advantage in a crowded legal market

In seeking to secure the attention of the general counsel among a sea of competitors – it would be wise to heed the advice of Mr Jordan and develop a strategy of providing industry-leading, well-researched and produced information to clients and prospective clients on a regular basis.  It appears clear that the creation of sophisticated content with high relevance to the general counsel –  may stand not only a good chance of winning their attention, but an invitation to present those findings in person as well.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley helps law firms create sophisticated content strategies focused on meeting the needs of clients and prospective clients. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley