We’re working in an increasingly global world as technology enables us to deliver our services from any place at any time; something which has been accelerated by the pandemic. Lockdown has forced people to consider their home office set up and learn to use virtual meeting and collaboration tools effectively. It’s never been easier to collaborate internationally and work with clients overseas.
gunnercooke is becoming a truly global firm with offices in Germany and further expansion planned. We have an extremely diverse team at the firm with fluent language speakers and experts in every continent, as well as dedicated desks for Asia, France, Spain, Israel and Italy.
When working on cross-border matters, there can often be cultural and language barriers, therefore it’s important to have an understanding of the client’s culture and the key differences in the business environment, the law and their industry.
So how can lawyers and firms ensure they continue to deliver excellent service to clients from different backgrounds, cultures, and jurisdictions?
- Define your expertise. It’s impossible to have experts to cover every jurisdiction in the world so don’t claim you do. Look internally at your people. What languages are spoken? Where are their clients based? Are they dual qualified? Do they do cross border work? Once you know the answers you can clearly communicate your international expertise and create dedicated desks for your strongest regions.
- When starting a new case, bring in team members with relevant knowledge and speak to colleagues for their insights. It’s important to have diversity in teams in order to service a diverse client base.
- Every jurisdiction has different regulations and processes, but it’s key to also understand the cultural differences in business and personal interactions. Use your team’s experiences and insight to offer a tailored service that fits a client’s needs and expectations. At gunnercooke, we act as trusted advisors to our clients so in addition to legal advice, they are looking for guidance on corporate, commercial and business issues. Therefore it’s essential to have a wider understanding beyond just differences in law.
- Help the client understand your own jurisdiction. Clients may be looking to you as an advisor to bridge the gap between two countries. This may even be their first experience working in this region. They are looking for someone with an understanding of both countries and to clearly communicate any differences they may need to be aware of.
- Overcome time zones. Flexible working has become the norm for many law firms; this makes it easier to adapt your working day to suit your clients. We are not proposing every lawyer needs to pick up the phone at 3am but adjusting your hours during an important international case so that the client can call in the evening will elevate your service.
- Every client is different. The best service is always bespoke, and this is why it’s essential to bring together the right team with the right knowledge and background to offer clients clear, tailored advice.
My team pride ourselves on the advice and service we provide to our clients overseas. Here’s a recent testimonial from one of our Asian clients:
“We have been delighted with the support and advice we have received from Michelle and her team. We have worked with many law firms and often encountered cultural and language barriers, but the difference with Michelle is her deep understanding of our business culture and language. This is invaluable and enables her to bring much more than simply legal advice on a project.
“Both Michelle and all of her team are supportive, practical, and efficient the way that they communicate, and their advice is always tailored completely to our business circumstances. Not only that, the fact that she has stood in my shoes as an in-house lawyer herself brings a very commercial perspective.
“On one particular transaction, we were working to a very tight schedule, over a weekend and across multiple international time differences. Michelle’s team were always available and on hand to guide us. We all pulled together as one team and together we achieved a great result.
“In the last 12 months, all over the world, businesses and teams have been in lockdown and had to find new ways of working. Our company has strived to ensure that we ‘give back’ and support those in our community who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. I know that this is a sentiment which Michelle and gunnercooke share and we have enjoyed exchanging ideas and progress around these initiatives. I am looking forward to continuing to work with Michelle and gunnercooke as they further expand their presence in the Asian market.”
Assistant to Managing Director of AUSTAR GROUP