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globalmarkets.jpgI’m hitting the ground running this week, with an opening keynote presentation for a global legal firm, who are holding their annual shareholders / partners conference in Las Vegas.

I’ve got about 800 commercial lawyers in the room; many of whom are experts in very specific niches involving real estate, financial deals, intellectual property, commercial legal issues and other areas of commercial law. All of which are segments of the economy that are being impacted by high velocity change.

My talk is focused on one key trend: in order to keep at the edge of the curve, the firm will have to position itself where its clients are going. And increasingly, those clients are getting onto the globalization bandwagon — they’re focusing on the emergence of new markets, new opportunities and new economies.
And it isn’t just BRIC (Brazil, India and China) that they the are looking at, from the key trends within my keynote:

  • Goldman Sachs has identified that the next growth sector will come from the “Next 11” economies — those that are going to see a rapid transition and growth. These are Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey, and Vietnam
  • Almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade …. with an income level that allows spending on discretionary goods – McKinsey
  • By 2013, consumer spending power in emerging economies could match the spending power of Western Europe – McKinsey
  • The ranks of the middle class will swell by 1.8 billion to become 52% of total population, up from 30% today – McKinsey

The law firm, which has a heavy presence in the US and Europe, will increasingly find that their clients are moving into these hot new growth markets. I’ll use as an example Molex, a US manufacturer of “electrical connectors,” who has seen results from their own globalization strategy:

  • 80% of sales are now from abroad
  • they just had record sales of $3.59 billion
  • 6-7% of sales is committed to R&D
  • 30% of current sales comes from new products developed in last 3 years
  • sales are up 8.5% year over year
  • 59% of it sales are in Asia, and 2/3 of its 59 manufacturing facilities are abroad

In other words, if your clients are aggressively globalizing, as a legal firm you need to do so as well — and do it fast.

genconnect-lawyer.jpgSome weeks back, I spent a full day with about 40 senior lawyers with a major government agency, with the main focus both on the rapidity of change of legal skills, as well as rapid change with legal issues.

We took a look at the future of the profession, and had a workshop that examined issues of agility, rapid response and complexity of skills.

I put together a summary, based on a previous post here, that outlines both the challenges and opportunities faced by the profession.

The highlights of the document, available as a PDF, takes a look at such issues as generational warfare, evidentiary challenges, rapid change and specialization, and risk minimization, to name but a few.

Of the latter, I write that “One side impact of generational warfare is that “going underground” will become more acceptable. In the last few years we saw a fascinating battle between music companies and Kazaa, the music sharing organization, which used extra-territorial jurisdictional issues to provide itself some shelter against legal action. That type of activity is going to become the norm, not the exception, in the future. Indeed, going legal-underground is about to go mainstream.”

  • read 10 Big Trends for the Legal Profession: High-Velocity Change Providing Challenges and Opportunities adobe.gif

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