Washington Lawyer - August 2017 - 36

PARTNERS' PERSPECTIVE

What to Consider When Launching an

INTERNATIONAL OFFICE
By Esther Lim

A

Courtesy of Finnegan

s globalization tugs and
BE INFORMED
Preparation starts well before you set foot in a new
stretches the fabric of legal
country. Reach out to your friends and contacts
and find reliable, local sources of information. Locals
practice beyond national
and American expats in the new country will be
an excellent guide for what to expect and how
borders, firms are expanding their
to prepare, including providing recommendations
presence internationally and opening of local counsel to assist with registering the office
and procuring licenses.
offices abroad.
BE OPEN
Respect local customs, culture, and language.
Nearly a decade ago, I opened
Whether you are negotiating a contract or
exchanging business cards, take off the Western
my firm's China office during the
lens and put on a local one. For instance, local
customs may place greater value on relationship
2008 Beijing Olympics. Navigating
building and protocol rather than on maximizing
an unfamiliar market with vastly
efficiency and speedy resolution. Cultural appreciation and language acquisition can go a long way
different rules, policies, and
toward adapting to a new environment and
achieving professional success.
procedures - both written and
BE FLEXIBLE
unwritten - demanded a great
Expect unexpected challenges and barriers
during the process. There's office selection, leases,
deal of new knowledge, openness,
construction, permits, and licenses, just to name
and flexibility. Based on my experia few of the dealings firms can expect at the outset.
Personnel processes can also pose a challenge, such
ence, I would like to share a few
as recruiting, hiring, training, and retention of local
staff as well as the international relocation and
tips for those considering opening
adjustment of expat lawyers and their families.
Also, expect to find differences in business plans,
international offices.

Esther Lim

marketing, and implementation. Armed with local
knowledge, support, patience, and flexibility,
you can generally find solutions.

"Respect local customs, culture, and
language. Whether you are negotiating
a contract or exchanging business cards,
take off the Western lens and put on
a local one."
36 WASHINGTON LAWYER

* AUGUST 2017 *

Opening an international office and practicing
abroad as a U.S. lawyer opens new opportunities.
It not only broadens your horizons beyond the
comfort zone of a traditional U.S. practice, but also
renews appreciation for the U.S. legal system and
the rule of law. Embrace and enjoy the amazing ride!

Esther Lim, a partner at Finnegan,
Henderson, Farabow, Garrett &
Dunner, LLP, is president-elect of the
D.C. Bar. Read more about her recent
election at dcbar.org/news.


https://www.dcbar.org/about-the-bar/news/2017election-results.cfm http://www.dcbar.org/news http://www.dcbar.org

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