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GLOBAL LAW FIRM NETWORKS: An Introduction to Global Market Leaders

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2022 – “Back to the Future” 

In 2022, many alliances and networks resumed the regular in-person programmes, conferences, and meetings that create strong bonds between their member firms. The timing of this shift could not have been more perfect as “Zoom” and “Teams” fatigue had fully set in, and firms were eager to network in an in-person setting. Additionally, many law firms have allowed their lawyers to maintain flexible or hybrid working arrangements. Still, many lawyers are eager to return to their offices to benefit their younger lawyers who are hungry for mentorship. Virtual programming and meetings will continue to be a part of alliances and networks, as well as law firms. However, it is without dispute that in-person events and meetings are the primary and most effective conduit for building strong relationships and a sense of community and firm culture.

TAGLaw, like many of its peers, has seen an increased level of receptiveness among firms interested in exploring membership. During the pandemic, many firms paused their business development efforts and budgets. Now that international borders are open and clients are demanding more from their professional services firms, law firm leaders fully understand the importance of belonging to a global alliance or network.

The Eyes of the World are on Ukraine 

In February 2022 the world's focus turned to Ukraine as the Vladimir Putin regime unlawfully invaded the borders of a sovereign country. In the months following the implementation of international sanctions, stakeholders with interests in Russia have had to navigate these sanctions to wind up their Russian interests or pivot to other markets. These events have led to a high volume of opportunities for independent law firms that are capable of providing reliable advice to their clients in the realm of sanctions and regulations.

Talent. Talent. Talent. 

Mid to large-size law firms, most of which belong to alliances and networks, have always been a proving ground and reservoir of young, dynamic lawyers. In 2022 there was a dramatic increase in the lateral movement of these younger lawyers to national (US, Canada, and UK) or international firms. Leaders of firms have told us that their firms have acquiesced to the demands of their younger talent by maintaining flexible working arrangements, implementing diversity programmes, and prioritising social and environmental issues. However, at the end of the day the main driver for the recent dramatic exodus of talent is salary packages that are 25% or greater than what mid to large-size firms can reasonably offer. Many firms and experts within the profession argue that this salary disparity cannot continue and that these behemoth firms raiding their downstream peers will inevitably pass on these increased costs to their clients. If law firms continue to respect and take care of their next generation of lawyers and focus on developing a dynamic and diverse culture, they will be well poised to gain clients who are seeking valuable, cost-effective legal services.

Energy, Crypto, and AI Take Centre Stage 

At the close of 2021 many storylines jumped to the forefront of the world and the legal profession. Countries worldwide are dealing with uncertainty and disruption in the energy markets, leading to governments taking drastic measures or prioritising investments in alternative energy sources. The scandal surrounding the crypto exchange FTX, in addition to a decline in the value of other crypto assets and NFTs, has led to tremendous volatility in these types of instruments. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning platforms such as ChatGPT have reopened the conversation about how technology can disrupt various sectors, including the legal profession.

What Lies Ahead for Alliances and Networks 

All of these storylines will continue to develop in 2023 and beyond. Law firms will play a vital role in how clients navigate these issues and the increasingly interconnected global society. We are confident that law firms that align with strong international networks and alliances will have the independence to maintain their unique cultures while gaining critical global connections to serve their clients' complex and cross-border needs.