Local Matters: Internationalizing Strategies for U.S. Law Firms

29 Pages Posted: 17 May 2018 Last revised: 13 Jun 2018

Date Written: 2007


The local nature of legal systems reduces the harmonizing impact that globalization has generated in other sectors of the economy. Despite the continuing importance of local differences and institutions, the world in which law and lawyers operate is increasingly connected, and national borders are receding as barriers to commerce. Lawyers and their firms must respond to the forces of globalization both as organizations and in connection with the services they provide. This article addresses the ways in which they are doing so by examining what it means for a law firm to be both a global and a U.S. firm. The article begins with a brief historical review and, in Section I, a discussion of the changes made by U.S. firms in their transformations to global competitors. Section II continues this historical review but broadens the focus from firms to include lawyers as well. Finally, Section III considers the credentials of lawyers active in the international legal services market. The analysis is based on two ongoing empirical studies, one of which examines the credentials of lawyers working in the foreign offices of U.S. law firms and the other focusing on foreign law graduates who earn a U.S. law school LL.M degree, the one-year post-J.D. degree aimed at foreign law graduates. The article concludes with some thoughts on the challenges facing U.S.- based firms as they respond to globalization by adding local lawyers to their rosters and local advisory services to their offerings. In becoming more local, the firms must struggle to maintain and redefine their U.S. identities.

Keywords: legal profession, globalization

JEL Classification: K10, L10

Suggested Citation

Silver, Carole, Local Matters: Internationalizing Strategies for U.S. Law Firms (2007). 14 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies (2007); Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 07-01; Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 07-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=925188

Carole Silver (Contact Author)

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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