A SELECTION of independent law firms across the world has found an alternative to full integration and shared names. Instead, they have formed their own association, known as LAWorld.
Comprising 32 member firms in 23 countries, LAWorld (pronounced ‘law world’) has representatives on every continent except Africa, and meets each year in “fascinating” locations to pick each other’s brains.
Including Melbourne firm Best Hooper, Sydney firm Makinson & d’Apice, and Brisbane firm Nicol Robinson Halletts, LAWorld gathered this month in Madrid to discuss trends, exchange business ideas and debate who’s got the latest technology.
LAWorld adds to a growing network of independent law firms that are international in outlook, local in scope. Members are generally commercial, medium-sized firms based in one location. The group includes firms in Argentina, Brazil, the US, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Israel and one from 5th Avenue, New York.
Madrid was cold, according to Nicol Robinson Halletts managing partner Robert Gallagher. Having just returned from a sojourn there with LAWorld for the association’s annual general meeting, Gallagher said the event went well. “Everyone is pretty much old buddies now, so there was probably an excess of eating and drinking,” he said.
But on a more serious level, members in the group trust each other and this event nurtured that relationship, Gallagher said. “You can have a firm with full integration and shared names, but this is a less formal model and it works.”
Hosted by Jose Suarez de la Dehesa & Sainz Dochado Abogados between 5 and 7 May, the conference was preceded by a half-day professional development seminar. Panels discussed emerging markets in China and India, among other topics.
None of the members attended bull fights while in Madrid, although in that city the fights are shown on television like rugby is shown in Australia, Gallagher said. Instead, the group made a trip to the historic city of Toledo.
The network allows quality mid-size law firms to secure legal services for their clients around the world, and helps members stay up to date on international legal developments, said Bill d’Apice of Makinson & d’Apice in Sydney.
Firms within the framework could represent clients across borders, Gallagher said. “We can keep clients in the fold and that works nicely.”
“In this era of globalisation, transactions and disputes often cross borders. LAWorld can help when they [cross borders] by providing clients of member firms with immediate access to legal resources where they are required,” Gallagher said.