5 key business development strategies for international law firm networks

Sydney-based legal business development professional Richard Smith (RWS_01) shared an article on Twitter recently entitled: Special Report: Law firm networks — Catching the white whales by Natasha Bernal (@TheLawyerTasha) of The Lawyer.

The article highlights the efforts by international law firm networks, many of whom have member firms that are boutiques, to attract general counsels of major corporations doing business internationally.  International law firm networks can and should be a means by which to attract more business for firms of any size.  And those networks may wish to consider a series of 5 key strategies which I’ll outline below — to maximize their abilities to generate this work.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The essence of these strategies is well-designed, pro-active business development initiatives staffed internally by highly capable international legal business development professionals – or spearheaded by practicing lawyers prepared to devote considerable time to the generation of new business versus the practice of law.

Track global macroeconomic trends – Global trade is increasing year-on-year.  Indeed, global foreign direct investment (FDI) increased 11% in 2013.  It is this trade in goods and services which provides law firm networks with a unique and growing opportunity to be a on-stop-shop for clients seeking legal representation in one or numerous international markets.  The very foundation of the effort involves ensuring your global network’s business development initiatives places the needs and commercial objectives of clients at the forefront of any effort.  Clients expect lawyers to be both capable practitioners and efficient in the delivery of services.  However lawyers can also uniquely distinguish themselves by being a proactive and informed commercial advisor to clients beyond the strict practice of law.  The most important element in this effort is identifying commercial trends and opportunities in the myriad of jurisdictions your law firm network member firms are operating in – so as to seek to serve a client in legal needs associated with achieving commercial objectives in those jurisdictions.  This on-the-ground and network-wide, active intelligence work by a law firm network business development operation will first seek to identify cross-border trade and investment trends so as to plan for more well-informed, detailed research to follow.

Track sector and market-specific economic trends – After identifying macro-economic trend-lines in international markets – international law networks can then dig-deeper by identifying sector and market-specific trends within this activity.  By identifying sector and market-specific trends, the shape of business development activity ahead begins to take shape into more manageable and actionable commercial intelligence.

Match trends as against ideal potential corporate clients – This lays the road-map down for specific client or prospective client focused action.  Once trends are broken down by markets and sectors – law firm networks can then take from this data actionable commercial opportunities (or dangers) uniquely relevant to highly specific potential clients and applicable to individual or numerous law firm network firms and practice groups within those firms.  Importantly, this effort requires an understanding of which trends to look for and why, which practitioners or practice group leaders within the network are relevant to the trends — and which potential clients and existing clients might be identified as uniquely benefiting from these opportunities.  This practice can and should also be inverted.  In other words – take a specific client or ideal potential client and research specific commercial opportunities or dangers which might be of interest to them in specific or numerous jurisdictions – with an aim to presenting these opportunities to the client or prospective client.  Again, this effort requires an informed understanding of the intersection of macro and micro-economic trends, industry sector economic triggers of opportunity and danger – and how each of these intersects with the practice of law among practitioners within the network.

Produce unique, company-specific actionable commercial opportunity/danger reports for the GC and commercial staff of companies – As I mentioned above – tracking economic and other data ought then to be transformed into reports and utilized to secure discussions with existing and potential clients as a means to discuss how the law firm network or member firms within the network might act for the client or prospective client in relation to the opportunities or dangers identified.  This is an active, ongoing initiative that can and should always be improved upon and made as client-centric as possible.  Seek always to be an indispensable commercial asset to your client or prospective clients.

Establish an internal, global business development initiative to include all network firms – Tying all of the above together requires firms to establish practitioner-specific, practice group-specific, firm-specific and network-wide business development initiatives.  The aim of these initiatives is to ensure the network has a global, regional and local, well-informed and proactive business development effort (coordinated within  the entire network) in place to effectively and efficiently achieve the consummation of numerous new client relationships.

Importantly, much more than I have outlined above can and should be done.  But the guidance I’ve provided herein will permit an international law firm network the ability to attract and retain new business on an ongoing basis – far beyond that which it would have achieved without the adoption of this effort.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley assists legal, financial services and public affairs professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

Why it’s important to articulate the EU’s public procurement opportunity online

As the European Commission has outlined: “Public procurement affects a substantial share of world trade flows, amounting to € 1000 billion per year. It also makes up a significant part of national economies: 10-25% of gross domestic product (GDP). In the EU, the public purchase of goods and services has been estimated to account for 16% of GDP.”  Hence, EU public procurement represents a substantial opportunity for many business, both European those overseas.  

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Indeed, as the EUObserver reported recently, EU-focused lobbying groups are catering to an increasingly diversified group of clients from not only traditional sources of trade like North America, but also, according to Eurostat, newly emerging markets in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere.

Articulating the EU opportunity to foreign markets

As Interest in the EU among foreign companies continues to diversify geographically, the opportunity for Brussels law firms and public affairs firms with a specialism in public procurement advisory services is clear.  You have a clear opportunity to communicate key information about one of the world’s most lucrative public procurement regimes to a growing, global audience around the world – via refined content distributed across digital platforms and accessible via the internet.

Many foreign companies will simply be unaware of opportunities the EU public procurement regime offers them – without hearing from groups like yours with a unique position at the heart of European decision-making in Brussels.  Too, with the numbers of groups in Brussels with lobbying capabilities growing, it’s in your interest to undertake sophisticated methods aimed at communicating those message to key audiences – so as to effectively differentiate your firm and your service offer.

The opportunity cost of not engaging

As studies have shown, sophisticated professional services firms face a mounting opportunity cost if they don’t choose to engage effectively on digital platforms like blogs.

For example: “”Social Media Influence (SMI) [has] underscored the rapid acceleration of new business generated by engagement on social media, citing a “study conducted by Austin-based PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit, which indicates companies that fully embrace social media are seeing ‘four times greater business impact’ than their less socially engaged peers.'”

Looking forward

Considering the sizable opportunity the EU public procurement regime represents to foreign companies, Brussels public affairs firms would be wise to consider the possibility of articulating messages about this opportunity to potential foreign clients – via sophisticated online engagement.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley assists legal, financial services and public affairs professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

Public Affairs in Europe is increasingly moving online

According to a recent article in EurActiv: “Public affairs in Europe is increasingly moving online to reach EU policy makers, linking their campaigns to what [one] high-level official of the EU Commission, Robert Madelin, called the ‘creation of a digital public service’ on Thursday (19 June).  Madelin, as Euractive reported, “was speaking at a conference on digital advocacy, organised by the Public Affairs Council in Brussels. “Commissioners are increasingly mobile,” he argued, “and there is a social media reflex gaining ground.'”

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????“In three years”,  the story continued: “the number of MEPs on Twitter has soared. In 2011, only 34% of them were on the ‘micro-blogging’ platform. By March 2014, the number rose to 68%, possibly thanks to the campaigns for the 2014 EU elections. The Parliament itself is working on social media strategies since 2008. The Commission, too, has also expanded its online activities in the past years.”

EU public procurement not well known outside Europe

Many foreign companies will simply be unaware of opportunities the EU public procurement regime offers them – without hearing from groups like yours with a unique position at the heart of European decision-making in Brussels.  Too, with the numbers of groups in Brussels with lobbying capabilities growing, it’s in your interest to undertake sophisticated methods aimed at communicating those message to key audiences – so as to effectively differentiate your firm and your service offer.

Implications for EU public affairs advisors

As the policymaking process goes online, the implications for public affairs advocates are at least twofold.  In the practice of public affairs advocacy, establishing a sophisticated digital presences is almost certainly now a necessity.   Perhaps equally important is the requirement to be online to attract and retain new clients.

As I wrote recently in a blogpost entitled Articulating the EU’s public procurement opportunity – the client-base of EU public affairs advocates is becoming increasingly diversified geographically – while at the same time more Brussels public affairs advisors are competing for this business.  Too, “Many foreign companies will simply be unaware of [how the EU is impacting their business] – without hearing it from groups like yours with a unique position at the heart of European decision-making in Brussels.  And important to note: As studies have shown, sophisticated professional services firms face a mounting opportunity cost if they don’t choose to engage effectively on digital platforms like blogs.

What Brussels public affairs advisors can do

Public affairs advisors can and should see the developments I’ve outlined above as an opportunity to increase their sophistication both in client service, but also in client attraction and retention.   In order to do this, it’s advisable to develop a sophisticated, informed online presence.   As I’ve written before, blogging is among the efforts Brussels public affairs advisors should seriously consider.  But any effort must be tailored specifically to meet the unique needs of each public affairs advisory firm — and the clients he or she is seeking to serve.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley assists legal, financial services and public affairs professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

How one of Washington’s elite lobbying firms is marketing with content

Washington, DC is a vital center of political decision-making for citizens and stakeholders around the United States and indeed the world.  Importantly, it’s also a required locale for advocacy for domestic and foreign companies and foreign governments seeking attention from America’s regulatory and political decision-makers.  Hence, the business of lobbying is a crucial means by which those not intimately familiar with the system can seek assistance in navigating the complex bureaucratic maze that is Washington.

????????????????????????????????????????The rise of the internet economy in the 1990’s has fundamentally transformed the means by which consumers of services find information about what they might be seeking to achieve their goals.  This is no different in the world of legislative, regulatory and political advocacy.  Buyers of sophisticated lobbying services, like buyers of other services, are increasingly turning to the internet to find what they’re looking for.

An elite K Street lobbying firm embraces digital media

Tess VandenDolder (@TessVanden) outlined in an article last year how content and other digital marketing efforts were being utilized by one of Washington, DC’s most elite lobbying firms, Cassidy & Associates.

As VandenDolder explained, “Companies in every industry looking to make an impression with consumers know that digital marketing is the new face of advertising.  [And] “K Street is catching up to speed on these new advertising trends.”

VandDenDolder reported the details of Cassidy & Associates digital marketing plans:

  • “We’ve focused on taking four core platforms from placeholder status to fully interactive venues on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter and having them all point to Cassidy.com as a clearinghouse for everything Cassidy,”  spokesman Tom Alexander told POLITICO.”
  • “This past summer the firm announced the launch on their own online magazineThe Insiders,” focusing on K Street news and legislative movement, all with, of course, a branded twist. Cassidy & Associates also runs a YouTube channel with some great content explaining the political implications of policy battles.” [emphasis added]

The future is here

The intersection of the internet economy and elite public affairs advocacy is here, as has been clearly demonstrated by what is already being done by some in America’s capital city.  Given the importance to companies and governments of seeking assistance in navigating Washington’s bureaucratic mazes, the stakes could not be higher for elite public affairs advocacy firms in terms of what they do in digital marketing.

A comprehensive digital strategy is necessary to attract and retain clients increasingly migrating to digital sources of news and information. Importantly, too, the increasing sophistication of digital campaigns is, I believe, what is likely to characterize the future.  Hence, the simple adoption of basic digital marketing isn’t close to enough to what firms will be required to do to stand out. Rather, the adoption and constant re-engineering of the most sophisticated digital marketing efforts will be what will truly distinguish the public affairs advocacy firms of the future.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley assists legal, financial services and public affairs professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

Lawyers: Study proposed EU-US trade treaty now to win new clients later

Nicholas G. Karambelas, a founding partner of Sfikas & Karambelas LLP in Washington, DC, has written a superb article outlining the key provisions of the pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty between the United States and the European Union.  Karambelas article appeared in the July/August 2014 edition of the Washington Lawyer, the magazine of the District of Columbia Bar.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????As the European Commission team (@EU_TTIP_team) negotiating the treaty has outlined: The TTIP…”aims at removing trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US.  On top of cutting tariffs across all sectors, the EU and the US want to tackle barriers behind the customs border – such as differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures.

The TTIP negotiations will also look at opening both markets for services, investment, and public procurement.”  Importantly, as the Commission also outlines:  “Independent research shows that TTIP could boost the EU’s economy by €120 billion; the US economy by €90 billion; [and] the rest of the world by €100 billion.”  And this adds to the enormous bilateral trade relationship the European Union and the United States already enjoy together.  As the US Congressional Research Services has outlined:  “The United States and the European Union (EU) economic relationship is the largest in the world—and it is growing.  In 2012 (latest data available), $1,500.5 billion flowed between the United States and the EU on the current account, the most comprehensive measure of U.S. trade flows.”

Specific areas of focus for transatlantic lawyers

What Karambelas outlines should be paid particular attention to by lawyers acting for clients engaged or seeking to engage in transatlantic business.  As he reports: “The TTIP differs from other FTAs because the TTIP is intended to be comprehensive [emphasis added].  It would encompass all issues that arise from or are incident to virtually every aspect of free trade. The negotiating issues consist of six categories:

  • Quantitative trade restrictions on the movement of items of trade,
  • Regulatory regimes for industrial products,
  • Regulatory regimes for agricultural products,
  • Regulatory regimes for services,
  • Regulatory regimes for intellectual property, and
  • Rules for the conduct of business and commercial activities.”

What can lawyers do now?

What Karambelas’ outline reflects is that this trade agreement, if ratified – will bring much change to the world’s largest trading relationship.  And there will be much new legal work created as a result of these changes.  Importantly, Karambelas and others have already outlined the key sectors to be impacted.  These sectors represent substantial chunks of the EU and US economies.  The core, big-picture focus of your effort, therefore, is already available.

Lawyers can now closely track developments as the treaty continues to wind it’s way through the bureaucratic and political processes on either side of the Atlantic. I would suggest law firms ought to be updating clients and potential clients now, not later, on how they may be impacted by the treaty.  Also, lawyers can seek to anticipate via  economic, political and legal research – how specific ideal potential client companies and existing clients — might specifically be impacted by the treaty.

This initiative would place any law firm that might seek to undertake it ahead of competitors in actionable market intelligence for clients — as opposed to seeking to generate work in reaction to corporate needs as outlined in competitive tenders.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley assists legal, financial services and public affairs professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

2 ways China’s lawyers can build a foreign client base

China’s lawyers gathered recently in Shanghai to learn about trends and best practices in legal technology and marketing.  The China International Lawyer Marketing & Technology Summit 2013 (CILMTS2013) takes place at a time when China’s economy continues to grow apace while maintaining a pronounced allure to foreign companies and investors.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????China’s law firms constitute Asia’s largest and arguably most competitive for local work – but competition for work from both domestic and foreign clients is becoming more fierce, characterized by intense price competition.

To remain competitive and increase the likelihood of future success, China’s lawyers can emulate some of the world’s best law firm business development initiatives – some focused on China already.  Two core initiatives are worth emulating:

1. Make yourself a gateway to the Chinese market

For Chinese lawyers seeking to represent clients from overseas – one of the most effective ways to attract those potential clients – is to become a primary source of information for companies seeking to enter and thrive in the Chinese market.  China Law Blog, authored by Dan Harris of Harris & Moure pllc, is a superb example of what you can aspire to.

2. Establish and maintain a “sales pipeline” business development initiative

To make the gateway presence I’ve described above fully successful, Chinese law firms should also establish a “sales pipeline”.  The key components of this effort are the identification of new potential clients and the pursuit of those clients until your firm has been retained by them.  This effort requires the adoption of sophisticated market research and sales performed by skilled professionals trained in each discipline I’ve mentioned above.

Looking forward

China’s lawyers can thrive in the increasingly competitive marketplace for legal services in mainland China – if they emulate the sophisticated practices some law firms are already utilizing to great success.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley assists legal, financial services and public affairs professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

2 places where US lawyers can look for foreign clients

While America remains on of the single largest recipients of foreign direct investment in the world, the increasing globalization of world economic activity has created a more complex menu of opportunities for US lawyers seeking new business in 2014.

In 2012 “global corporations invested more in emerging markets than the core economies of U.S., Europe and Japan, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) in their 2013 World Investment Report“, as Forbes Magazine recently reported.

dreamstime_s_31364930-2“Developing economies absorbed more foreign direct investment (FDI) than the developed ones, with four developing economies [China leading] ranked among the five largest recipients in the world.  Developing countries also generated almost one third of global FDI outflows, continuing the trend of cash rich corporations in foreign countries investing in the advanced economies.” the report continued.

Great Britain ranked as the number one recipient of foreign direct investment in the world in 2013, as Reuters reported.  While the US “remains No. 1 for foreign corporate investments.” according to Forbes.

Based on these new trends in global economic flows, below is a list of two core areas where US lawyers can focus in an effort to secure new foreign clients in the year ahead.

Inbound investment into the United States

According to a recent news release from The White House: “Investment flows into the United States come mostly from a small number of industrial countries.  Since 2010, Japan, Canada, Australia, Korea, and seven European countries collectively have accounted for more than 80 percent of new FDI.   Although still small, flows from emerging economies like China and Brazil are growing rapidly.

The U.S. manufacturing sector draws a considerable share of FDI dollars, led by pharmaceuticals and petroleum and coal products.  Outside manufacturing, wholesale trade; mining; non-bank holding companies; finance and insurance; and banking receive the greatest shares of foreign investment.”

US lawyers would be wise to match up their core practice specialties with inbound investment flow sources, identifying sector-specific opportunities for the conduits of those investments and centering a focused yet nimble business development effort around anticipating and helping to facilitate transactions and the follow-on work which results.

Foreign growth markets

Based on the increasing trend of foreign investment flowing from developed to developing economies and vice-versa, US lawyers would be wise to track US corporate investment flows while seeking to identify means by which to facilitate transactions on behalf of domestic investors at each point in the investment chain.  This would of course require ongoing assessments of whether to establish some form of foreign presence(s) or corresponding relationships as integral to the business development planning process.

In Asia, “China and Hong Kong were the second and third largest FDI recipients worldwide, and Singapore, India and Indonesia were also among the top 20.” as the Forbes report outlines.  China.org.cn provides a more in-depth analysis of regional trends in inbound foreign direct investment in a recent article entitled The “Asianization” of global FDI.

Africa had a “5% increase in FDI inflows to $50 billion. This growth was driven partly by FDI in extractive industries, but investment in consumer-oriented manufacturing and service industries is also expanding.”

Foreign FDI into South America increased 12%, “where FDI inflows were a mix of natural-resource-seeking and market-seeking activity, particularly from China.”

Conclusion

Growth opportunities exist for US lawyers seeking new business from cross-border investment flows in 2014.  However in order to capitalize upon these trends, sophisticated market research and business development practices must be adopted by US law firms to fully realize the potential opportunities the new year offers.

46dcc894fe940c873fb966b046eda439_400x400John Grimley assists legal, financial services and public affairs professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley