We constantly hear that change is being forced on law departments because of cost control, technology, and globalization. The third, globalization, looks at the increasing international trade and location of companies and presumes associated complexity or amount of legal services needed.
It turns out, however, that law firms who pursued global expansion most vigorously have lagged their domestic counterparts: “adding more lawyers outside a firm’s home country has generally been associated with modestly slower growth in profits per partner.” That conclusion comes from the Economist, Oct. 15, 2011, at 78, citing The American Lawyer.
It seems plausible to me that if law firms’ didn’t fare so well who they set up camp all over the world, it means law departments – at least in the U.S. and U.K. where the biggest law firms roam – were not demanding cross-border legal services. That might be because the law departments met their needs internally; or it might be because global legal issues represent a much smaller piece of the legal whole than is incessantly asserted.