Six key reasons to hire your own lawyer for an overseas office, plus two more

A sidebar for an article on overseas legal teams, published in the ACC Docket, Vol. 26, Nov. 2008 at 51, pulls together several arguments in favor of adding a lawyer to your staff in a foreign country.

  1. “Language” – an obvious reason why your law department might want a local lawyer fluent in a language
  2. “Labor laws” – maybe this has to do with limitations on temporary lawyers
  3. “Regulatory compliance” – this reason may boil down to a need to know the laws of a country where you do a substantial amount of business
  4. “Unique country requirements” – I think this has to do with knowledge of some particularly influential area of substantive law, like the strict data protection laws of Germany
  5. “Unique industry needs” – for example, knowledge of the laws and regulations in India regarding BOT enterprises (build, operate, and transfer)
  6. “Local politics” – the value of this reason depends on the role of in-house lawyers, such as in the arena of government affairs and lobbying (See my post of Aug. 21, 2008: government relations and legislation influencing with 6 references.).

As I read the list, reasons 3-5 reduce to: a foreign lawyer knows the law better. Missing from this list of reasons to staff overseas, but which also matter, are client insistence and time zones. If the President of EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) demands a lawyer in Brussels, that is a good reason to favor adding one. If you are tired of calls at 11 PM with Singapore, that is a reason to consider an APAC (Asia Pacific) lawyer.

A second sidebar mentions other factors that prompt companies to hire their own counsel overseas. Those include large bills from law firms, excessive travel costs and time for your home-country lawyers, and lower salaries overseas (See my post of Aug. 21, 2005: lower cost lawyers overseas.).

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