In the last decade, many US and UK law firms have adopted an “operate globally” strategy, buying or building practices around the world. The rationale is to be where their global clients are. I think that in the future, successful global firms will need to do more than merely be where their clients are. 

They will also have to operate and manage more like their clients do. Law firm management has improved but still lags corporate management and operations significantly. Take for example how big companies work. How Teams Can Work Well Together From Far Apart (Wall Street Journal, 9/17/07, $) explains how “IBM uses high-tech tools to grapple with an increasingly common problem: making far-flung teams work well together.” I’ve read many similar articles recently about global teams and working virtually.

In the long term, successful global law firms will emulate not just the locations of their multinational clients, but also how they manage and operate.