Why International Locations Work For Law Firms
04 Aug 2022 | Louise Chilcott, Business Development Manager
At first glance, the law sector may seem consistently in demand and resilient to market factors. However in reality law firms are increasingly looking to protect their profitability and meet changing client needs. Overseas location is a popular solution.
In the UK, 80 of the 115 law employers within Chambers Student have at least one overseas office with the top five law firms having an average of 36 overseas locations. Similarly, the UK is proving an attractive market for law firms based abroad. Thomson Reuters Institute research states: “The UK legal market is experiencing its highest level of [client] spend optimism of the last five years.
“Indeed, the percentage of UK legal buyers saying they’re anticipating growth in their overall legal spend in the coming months saw a huge increase, especially in practice areas like regulatory. Legal demand among global law firms with operations in the UK grew 8.7% in 2021 compared with 2020, and was even up 6% compared with 2019 — the last pre-pandemic year.”
5 Reasons for law firms to consider international locations
1. Client retention
International trade is increasing, and clients want to know that their law firm understands the compliance and legal issues around trading with specific countries. Clients may look for a firm that has an office or affiliation in their project location and can navigate local laws. Relevant international presence presents an opportunity to stay involved.
2. Cross-Border mergers
Often, a quicker way for a law firm to establish a presence in a new country is by merging with another practice. Deloitte confirms that distinct benefits can be achieved:
- Quicker time to market and access to new markets
- Ability to scale through acquisition
- Expanding brand recognition in new territories
- Absorbing a competitor
3. Smoothing the economic rollercoaster
In times of economic downturn or financial volatility, some markets perform well whilst others struggle. The more varied a firm’s exposure to different markets, the more likely that one region’s slow growth will be balanced out by another region’s boom.
4. Making the most of technology
The use of technology has never been so great and reduces the cost of setting up an overseas location as the reliance on physical presence is reduced. This is emphasised by clients’ expectations around communication, with Clio research showing that 79% of consumers say working remotely with a lawyer is key factor in hiring a firm. This is further emphasised by the Law Society: “As consumers have adopted more remote forms of communication in response to the pandemic, they’ve grown accustomed to new methods of interaction that have also shifted their expectations when it comes to working with a lawyer.” Successful firms are redirecting spending away from physical office space and towards more client-centred, flexible solutions like practice management software.
5. Retaining talent, reducing costs
Law firms with efficient workforce mobility programmes enjoy a successful relocation programme with increased productivity and reduced costs. Many employees enjoy the opportunity of international assignments plus they make good business sense for the law practice. International assignments work well for career development and help to retain employees, reducing recruitment and training costs.
“In today’s interconnected world, an international strategy is indispensable,” says Warwick Place Legal. “The business of law is no longer local, or even national. Adding an international dimension to your firm’s practice will raise your game and keep you in it for a long time to come.”
Does your law firm have offices overseas?
Do your employees take on international assignments?
Are you a lawyer looking to move abroad?
“Recently, London and Singapore have been popular destinations for relocating lawyers,” says Sarah Huntridge of BTR International. “We have a trusted network of global partners, so you are assured of the same efficiency and care wherever your destination.”
Talk to the friendly experts at BTR International without obligation. We’re here to help.