Amid news of mega-mergers — like the one between Montreal-based law firm Ogilvy Renault LLP and British legal behemoth Norton Rose Group, announced in 2010 — Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP has found a way of expanding its global reach without being swallowed up.
This fall, the mid-sized, Toronto labour and employment firm joined L&E Global, an organization that describes itself as “a world- wide alliance of premier boutique employment law firms.” Roy Filion, a senior partner at the firm, says the alliance “gives us an opportunity to provide a better level of service to our international clients.”
Many alliances and networks like L&E Global (founded in 2010), have been around since the early 1990s. Mid-sized firms join in the hopes of referring clients to one another when cases require expertise that isn’t available in-house. In theory, this prevents clients with complex needs from decamping to multi-nationals.
But not all networks are equal: each is run by its own staff and board of directors, so quality of service can vary. “Some groups have standards or criteria for admission or retention in the association,” says Jordan Furlong, partner at Edge International, a legal consultancy firm. “If there aren’t these particular standards or admissions, it’s just a club. And if it’s just a club, why should anybody care?” Strict admission criteria allow firms to trust each other with referrals.
Knowledge exchange between member firms is another benefit of a global network. Last spring, Glen Lewis, seventh-year associate at Minden Gross LLP, tapped into his firm’s alliance, Meritas, (made up of 175 firms around the world), and got involved in a fledgling initiative called the Young Lawyer Liaison Program — an international networking group for third- to eighth-years.
“It just makes things seamless in terms of getting support on files,” Lewis says. Recently, he called on a Young Lawyer Liaison Program colleague in Luxembourg for help with an overseas insolvency case. “The next morning they set up a conference that gave the client all the information needed.”
Illustration: © Michael Austin / theispot.com