Global Rankings

International & Cross-Border Capabilities in USA

International & Cross Border Capabilities: USA Overview

What This Section Covers:

In the International & Cross Border Capabilities sections, Chambers and Partners highlights the law firms which are identified by clients as the best and most user-friendly to work with when matters involve international aspects, that require the lawyers to consider, manage and advise on issues which are going on across different countries and jurisdictions.

All the firms listed in this sections offer strong abilities to serve clients who are seeking a legal team with significant resources in the US, but also the ability to excel in international work.

Frequently, the firms specified have been picked out by clients for their strengths in some or all of the below:

  • coordinating advice on connected transactions, court procedures or regulatory issues in different countries as a lead counsel;
  • providing global reach and giving clients access to top quality legal advice in all the markets they need help in;
  • providing seamless and integrated legal services to clients, which create a user-friendly experience across borders; and
  • helping clients in international matters through specific knowledge or experience of sector or industry practices worldwide.

The Different Approaches to International Work:

Across all jurisdictions, the firms highlighted in the International & Cross-Border Capabilities sections are diverse in approach, with many different models of serving clients in international work proving effective.

This includes international firms, which often provide expansive global reach under one roof, with offices around the globe to serve clients across continents. This covers a wide range of firms such as Latham & Watkins, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, as well as broad internationals such as Baker McKenzie and White & Case.

It also includes more independent firms, which often have a limited presence in a few key jurisdictions but are chosen by clients simply for the high quality of the firm’s services in the primary location of the matter, coupled with the firm’s ability to provide an international team through close partnerships with leading firms in jurisdictions where the firm cannot provide direct legal counsel. Cravath, Swaine & Moore or Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz are the most common examples of this model, while firms such as Sullivan & Cromwell and Davis Polk & Wardwell are also viewed strongly centred in the US market.

Given that there is currently no firm that can comprehensively cover every jurisdiction in the world, in most cases, firms adopt a hybrid approach which combines some elements of both the different models above.

Clients have reported that all different approaches can have an advantage depending on preferences and the various demands of the international matter. Where there are intricate and inter-connected issues across a huge range of jurisdictions, or need for quick answers on day-to-day issues across a wide geographic area, clients often see an advantage in using the most expansive international firms. Where the most significant issues in a matter are in the US, or where the deal-making skills and cultural understanding of a client's business is of greater importance, clients can often see an advantage in the independent model.

Global Trends in the US Market:

As with the US economy in general, the impact of US based firms in international matters is enormous, with a large and diverse range of US firms acting for clients in significant global roles. With the level of investment abroad by US companies or foreign, US-listed companies and a regular preference towards US law in global M&A and capital markets work, the high-end US practices are amongst the most experienced in the world in coordinating and leading high-profile work around the world.

The US tends to be a focal point for outbound activity in all directions, but is particularly seen as a hub of expertise for large, high-value matters in Latin America across a wide range of industry sectors and practice areas. California remains a key hub for deals with the Asian markets, while Washington, DC is often the hub for the most significant contentious and regulatory work. New York has an expansive role across international work in the US and is the most prominent location for law firms housing expertise on international capital markets work and M&A, particularly transatlantic matters involving the UK and Europe.

The majority of US firms featured in the chapter structure their global practices in a similar fashion, with the firms often adopting a loose internal structure which divides the practice into global transaction teams and global disputes teams.

Many firms also have a significant regulatory focus in their global work. Firms that perform well in areas such as life sciences, product liability and international trade all rely on significant regulatory expertise, which is often coupled with strong global litigation capabilities.

Market-Leading and High-Performing Firms

The firms listed in these categories all have broad, expansive practices which are able to handle a wide range of matters at the highest level internationally. All display strong tendencies to act as lead counsel from their US base across a wide range of transactional work, international disputes or both. Market leaders in each area are normally reserved by clients for the most critical and high-value work. High-Performing firms are also at the top level in handling international issues of varying type, including several of the specialist areas listed below.

M&A, capital markets, investment funds and energy are all strong drivers of work on the transactional side. Corporate investigations, white-collar crime, international arbitration and corporate litigation are all key drivers on the disputes side.

Specialised firms: Arbitration and International Trade

There are several firms in the US which stand out for their strong international niche advising on international trade and arbitration work. With global arbitration and trade centres often sharing similar locations, many firms have developed strong practices in both areas, such as Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle and Hughes Hubbard & Reed. Crowell & Moring and Steptoe & Johnson specialise heavily in international trade, whereas Foley Hoag are a revered public international law and international arbitration firm.

Specialised firms: Investigations and White Collar Crime

Corporate investigations is a huge driver of work for all the major international players in the US market, with the US Department of Justice and FCPA work having a key involvement in the prosecution of global corporate corruption. Kobre & Kim and Miller & Chevalier are particularly specialised in this area and devote a large portion of the firm’s resources to handling related international matters.

Specialised firms: Capital Markets and Finance

Capital markets is frequently driven by US law and therefore accounts for a large part of the international work done by most US law firms. The firms listed in this section are particularly focused on capital markets in their cross-border activities, with Cahill Gordon & Reindel being the global leader in high yield debt underwriter work and the other firms mentioned being highly respected for their global securitisation and structured finance practices.

Specialised firms: Investment Funds

With a host of global investors and asset managers across hedge funds, private equity and others based in the US, many US firms act for funds in transactional work and fund structuring across the globe. The firms listed in this section are frequently engaged in international work related to the investment sector, backed by strong credentials in general corporate work.

Specialised firms: Projects and Energy Specialists

The US remains a major hub of global energy business, particularly in oil and gas, where major oil companies work with their US advisers on the financing and investment in energy projects worldwide, with a particular focus on Latin America and Africa. Firms such as Baker Botts and Vinson & Elkins are renowned for their international oil and gas expertise, while Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy are especially known for infrastructure work.