Building an international footprint: a medium to long term play

If you are planning to attend this year’s edition of the Annual Conference of the International Bar Association (IBA) you are probably in full preparation mode to make the most of your visit to Miami. With around 6,000 international lawyers from more than 2,500 law firms, corporations, and regulators, over 200 working sessions and a social program including more than 100 dinners, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, especially now that the annual conference became one the of biggest networking events for independent law firms from all around the globe.

In fact, translating your international aspirations into an actionable strategy involves a great variety of things that need to be done, but many law firms stall their international ambitions because they lack the time, the resources – or both. Though, being part of an international network that operates smoothly can bring you so many new opportunities that it really adds to your growth. It takes time and focus.

Growth takes time and focus

Building up an international network for your firm involves various actions that need to be done in a specific order. An investment in time and resources is key to reach your aspirations. To make the most of your investment, you also need to focus and have a clear idea on your objectives. The action plan to connect with surrounding jurisdictions if you are a western European law firm, for example, is different from the strategy you should be focusing on when searching for panel positions at the bigger US or UK firms. Having a centralized strategy for the firm’s international network is therefore essential for a smooth planning of the next steps.

That is why we advise firms looking to expand their international footprint to appoint a dedicated team. It is up to an “international committee” to set the goals and turn them into bitesize deliverables while simultaneously ensuring your strategic international efforts are in line with your marketing efforts.

Keeping the rest of the partners informed is another key aspect of the international committee’s responsibilities. Clear communication as well as encouragement to communicate and discuss internally about the strategy are essential for the success of these types of projects that involve the entire firm.

Taking these responsibilities will help your international committee to start having strong roots within the firm, and eventually outside your jurisdiction’s borders.

A clear vision of your international ambition

For those attending this year’s IBA annual conference and who feel that their preparation process could use some direction, make sure you use your time efficiently. First, you need to have an honest and thorough assessment of your firm’s international ambitions. Next, you should have a thorough assessment of your in-bound and out-bound work. What is it you seek and what do you have to offer? Combined, it gives you a clearer image on your targets.

Later steps involve, amongst others, strategic planning of agendas, preparation of the one-on-one meetings (collecting the necessary information, establishing consistent talking points, decision on whether you should involve a moderator or not to certain meetings etc.). Last but not least, an action plan for your follow-up after the conference is key.

If you have ambitions, but you haven’t found the time yet to start working on a strategy for this year’s edition in Miami, you should rather focus on next year’s strategy on the IBA annual conference in Paris or any roadshows to surrounding jurisdictions. Attending the annual meeting or some practice focus meetings without a clear vision and roadmap, would be counter-productive . But if you start now by installing your firm’s international committee who will set the goals, a realistic planning and an executable strategy, the 2023 IBA can be an entire success for your firm.

Does your IBA preparation process need more focus? Or do you need assistance in setting up fruitful business meetings? BlueWall can advise you on every step of the way.


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