Why German law firms should be focusing on China’s investors

Australian legal business development professional Richard Smith (RWS_01) shared a fascinating article in Asia Law Portal LInkedIn Group this week – highlighting the immediate opportunity German law firms have to develop new business emanating from China. The article, entitled Chinese investing big in Berlin, ran in Asia News Network on July 7th, authored by Yao Jing.

Chinese Embassy, Berlin

Chinese Embassy, Berlin

2,300 Chinese companies are investing in German industries

As the article explained: “Chinese companies are making big investments in Germany, eyeing the country’s advanced technology and management, a senior Chinese commerce official said.

“The value and the amount of Chinese investment in Germany are both rising quickly,” said Meng Fanzhuang, minister counselor for commerce at the Chinese embassy in Germany.

Embassy figures show that about 2,300 Chinese companies are investing in German industries – such as finance, aviation, telecommunication and machinery – with a total investment of more than US$4 billion.” [emphasis added]

Chinese Embassy advises Chines companies to hire local [German] legal advisors

“However, for newcomers to the country,” the article outlines: “Meng cautioned that there are always difficulties. He suggested companies fully assess the risks and integrate the investment operation with the company’s overall overseas strategy.  I also suggest Chinese companies hire local consultants or law firms because German laws and the taxation system are very complicated and can be a major challenge,” Meng said.’”

What German law firms can do now

What is so striking about this article is how explicitly the opportunity has been articulated.  In the world of legal business development, it’s rare to see such an opportunity so clearly spelled out.  Armed with this information, German law firms should be focused on researching each one of the Chinese companies  who are identified as entering or investing in the German market – then endeavoring to prepare specific (albeit not too extensive) briefs composed of tangible opportunities for those companies – and seeking to secure face-to-face meetings with that information.

Beyond that – this story ought also to be a lesson to not only German law firms but law firms worldwide – to be ever-prepared as a gateway to your market – as a means by which to rapidly react to an opportunity this explicit – as well as a means by which to properly package a comprehensive service offer aimed at inbound foreign direct investment wherever it may be emanating from.

John Grimley helps law firms, law firm practice groups, individual lawyers, financial services and governmental relations professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

California now ranked as the world’s eighth-largest economy

“California’s economy has overtaken Russia and Italy, with the state now ranked as the world’s eighth-largest economy.” according to data “calculated by the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto and based on annual statistics from the World Bank.” — as Dale Kasler (@dakasler) reported in the Modesto Bee today.

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“The state’s $2.203 trillion gross domestic product in 2013 put California slightly ahead of Russia and Italy and just behind the No. 7 economy, Brazil.  Because of slow growth in Europe, California could close in on No. 5 France and No. 6 United Kingdom in the 2014 rankings, said economist Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto center.” as Kasler reported. California’s economy has fluctuated in recent years but grew at a rate of 2.0% last year, slightly above the US growth rate of 1.8%.

California: America’s gateway to Asia

Importantly too, California is America’s undisputed gateway to Asia. Investment into Los Angeles County from China has doubled over the past five years” according to two recent reports issued by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (@LAEDC], as Kevin Smith (@SGVNBizreported in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune recently.   Robert Kleinhenz, the LAEDC’s chief economist told Smith in that interview:  “International trade is a significant industry for our local economy because we are [Asia's] gateway to the U.S…always rank[ing] among the top three industries for Southern California from one year to the next, and it competes with entertainment.”

With most economies in the Asia-Pacific region growing at double digit rates while markedly increasing efforts to forge closer trade ties with developed markets in Europe and North America – it appears clear that California’s fortunes will continue to rise as America’s economic engagement with fast-growing Asia expands.

Implications for professional services firms

The implications for professional services firms in California – and from among those nations seeking to expand trade with California – are clear.  California may soon ascend into membership of the world’s top 5 economies, joining China, the United States, Japan and Germany, should it surpass the United Kingdom and France.

Professional services firms in California as well as those within those nations trading or seeking to trade with California would be wise to become very familiar with California’s diverse economy so as to be maximally helpful to clients and potential clients who may seek your assistance in what will undoubtedly be a future of robust cross-border trade between California and the rest of the world.

John Grimley helps law firms, law firm practice groups, individual lawyers, financial services and governmental relations professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

What BigLaw can learn from Apple

Numerous media outlets have reported today that “Apple [has] recruit[ed] one of the watch industry’s most important sales execs”, as described it in Engadget.

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Importantly, as

As many are aware, Apple is among America’s richest and most successful companies.

But what can BigLaw learn from Apple?

Much has been written about the fortunes of America’s largest law firms.  But the themes that are most often heard are that the legal market in America is finite, that BigLaw law firms are fighting over clients in a flat market.  Too, one most often hears of mergers and lateral hires, as well as social media and technology – as the answer to BigLaw’s woes.

And while many might regard Apple as too different from law to make a comparison – I would argue the contrary.  The comparison is a simple one. And legal services are not uniquely exempt from business realities.  Apple is a very successful business, one of American’s most successful.  But the means by which they are seeking to advance their business objectives – are ones essentially dismissed by the legal services sector.  Sales, research, human intelligence, forging new market share where none appears to exist at present.

BigLaw needs to transcend its information echo-chamber

Sometimes the answers to questions needn’t be too complex.  In the case of BigLaw – there’s much to be learned from Apple.  But before BigLaw leaders can learn, they’ll need to accept that some of the most important answers to the questions they’re seeking to solve – are outside the echo-chamber that surrounds BigLaw.  Discussions of R&D, the failure of lateral hires and mergers, the futility of social media when it’s not tied to tangible, identifiable sales goals, the notion that firms can only gain market share by taking it from other law firms – are all reflective of myths almost universally accepted within the legal services sector.

Emulate Apple to succeed

The best corporations in America, like Apple, are proving every day that hiring highly qualified, subject-matter expert sales executives backed up by superior research is priority number one when seeking to carve out new market share in a highly competitive market.  When BigLaw leaders are willing to eschew industry sacred-cows in favor of business fundamentals utilized by America’s top corporations, then the fortunes of BigLaw will prove very different than the dire (or at best mediocre) prospects assumed as inevitable within the sector itself.

John Grimley helps law firms, law firm practice groups, individual lawyers, financial services and governmental relations professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

Current and emerging trends in cross-border mergers and acquisitions

In April of 2013, global law firm Baker & McKenzie, in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) published a study outlining current trends in the cross-border M&A market.  The results of that study, entitled Opportunities Across High-Growth Markets: Trends in Cross-Border M&A, provide insight into how both the corporate sector as well as their professional advisors might most effectively facilitate these transactions.

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As the study initially outlines, “Shifting patterns in outbound M&A signal a greater proportion of deals involving high-growth markets in the years ahead…What we confirmed through this research” as Baker & McKenzie outlined “is that it is no small feat to turn promising GDP growth in a new market into profitable revenue.”

Some of the studies findings, which can help inform any-cross border corporate or professional services business development strategy, include:

  • “Companies in the emerging and high-growth market countries that were less affected by global economic woes are eager to expand, and one of the quickest routes to do so is via M&A.”
  • “Investment activity is still strong into Brazil, Russia, India, China and also South Africa, which officially joined the BRICS bloc in December 2010, but some buyers are expanding the scope of their targets to include a promising next generation of high-growth markets, including Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam, among others.”
  • “It is not just Western companies on the acquisition side anymore. Companies from across high-growth markets are increasingly turning their attention to targets in both developed and emerging markets. For example, Chinese companies spent more than US $10 billion on 46 inbound deals in the US in 2012.”
  • “As growth strategies become more varied and include a wider range of
    target countries, anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws are being enforce more stringently and with farther reach.”
  • “M&A advisers expect to see cross-border transactions into and from these markets continue to increase over the next few years.,, To succeed, however, company executives will need to develop new strategies to leverage opportunities, mitigate risk and thrive in unfamiliar markets.”

Professional Services: Distinguishing your firm among clients in global M&A

In the increasingly complex and challenging market Baker & McKenzie and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) outline, professional services firms can implement broadly four key strategies to maximize their ability to act on more transactions. They are:

  1. Function as a source of M&A intelligence gathering for purposes of offering newly found transactions to existing or prospective clients.
  2. Offer a suite of custom services to clients to provide them with turn-key M&A solutions to increasingly complex emerging market opportunities.
  3. Establish an internal proactive, not reactive, proprietary pipeline of new M&A deal flow available to clients and potential clients.
  4. Actively work deal life cycle from opportunity identification to consummation.

John Grimley helps law firms, law firm practice groups, individual lawyers, financial services and governmental relations professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

China’s investment into Los Angeles doubles in past 5 years

“Investment into Los Angeles County from China has doubled over the past five years” according to two new reports issued by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (@LAEDC], as Kevin Smith (@SGVNBizreported in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune yesterday.  “’International Trade Outlook for the Southern California Region 2014-2015” examines the Southland’s trade sector from a broad perspective, and “Growing Together: China and Los Angeles County” speaks to the growing trade synergy between Southern California and China.””

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When interviewed for the report, Robert Kleinhenz, the LAEDC’s chief economist told Smith:  “International trade is a significant industry for our local economy because we are the gateway to the U.S…always rank[ing] among the top three industries for Southern California from one year to the next, and it competes with entertainment.”

“LACD exports to China have grown by more than 52 percent since 2009, setting records at the Port of Los Angeles in 2010 and 2011 in both value and the number of containers, Smith reported. “Last year the value of [Los Angeles County] exports to China… totaled nearly $22 billion.”

Sectoral higlights

The reported outlined that: “Computers, machinery, appliances and parts topped the LACD’s 2013 export list to China with a value of $4.7 billion. That was followed by electrical equipment, TVs and electronic parts ($3.8 billion), plastics and items made of plastic ($2.8 billion) and motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts ($2.3 billion), among others.

Top imports included computers, machinery, appliances and parts ($41.8 billion), electrical equipment, TVs and electronic parts ($40.6 billion) and furniture, bedding and lamps ($11.1 billion).

China was the LACD’s top trading partner in 2013, followed by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and Vietnam.”

Implications for professional services firms

Chinese and Los Angeles county professional services firms clearly have a tangible, lucrative cross-border opportunity, as the LAEDC studies reflect.  Importantly, those reports not only highlight the rise in trade between Los Angeles and China – but also detail that growth by sector.

Professional services firms on both sides of the Pacific would be wise to closely track this growth by sector, then leverage their capabilities to help major sectoral players in this cross-border trade maximize their new market penetration.  This takes a refined business development effort, however.  For Los Angeles County professional advisors in particular, international trade is now poised to potentially overtake entertainment as the areas prime economic driver.  With that in mind, a special focus on these international opportunities will be vital for firms in the region going forward.

John Grimley helps law firms, law firm practice groups, individual lawyers, financial services and governmental relations professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley

A preview of the 2014 Israel legal marketing conference

The 2014 Israel legal marketing conference will be held on June 12th at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv.  Before last years inaugural event, co-host Zohar Fisher (@ZoharFisher), President of Robus Legal Marketing in Tel Aviv, outlined: “For the first time in Israel, in the world’s densest legal market, an innovative Legal Marketing conference will be held”. Along with the Central District of the Israel Bar Association, Fisher is again helping to host this year’s one-day conference.

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A liberalized, highly competitive legal market

As Fisher outlines: “Israel holds the most competitive legal market in the world – [composed of a] 1:150 lawyer per capita ratio”,

Too, in late 2012, Joshua Freedman reported in The Lawyer: “Linklaters, DLA Piper and US firm Zeichner Ellman & Krause (ZEK) are among a raft of foreign firms setting their sights on Israel in response to the liberalisation of its legal market earlier this year.”

The conference will consist of 5 key components:

1) Business Development Panel – Hosted by Zohar Fisher, the panel will focus on hot topics in Israel’s legal market and will be composed of the managing partners of some of Israel’s leading law firms.  In addition to legal marketing techniques and trends, the panel will discuss the markets’ vast potential.

2) Lecture – By Mr. Alon Gal (@Alon_Gal), a renowned Israeli business and life coach, will address the conference on the topic: Thinking outside the box in a reality of fierce competition.

3) Marketing in Social Media for Lawyers Panel – Hosted by Adv. Saar Siklay (@twitting_lawyer), manager of the social media activities of the Central District of the Israel Bar Association.

4) Lecture – “The hottest trends in online Legal Marketing”.  Zohar provided in a preview via email: “[The] lecture, which will be given by Adv. Eddie Sobari (@Eddie_Su), will include:

  • Trends in marketing attorneys on the Internet
  • [The] growing importance of video [marketing] for attorneys (following an ethics change in Israel [which now permits it]).
  • The use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) [versus] Pay-Per-Click (PPC).
  • The [increasing] publication share of Facebook ([versus] Google ads).
  • Trends in design and outline of law firms’ websites.

5) Public Relations and Conducting a High Profile Trial Panel – The panel will be hosted by Adv. Kinneret Berashi – one of Israel’s leading criminal law attorneys and a TV host of a legal program — and will focus on techniques and trends in addressing a high-profile case attracting vast media coverage.  Panel participants are some of Israel’s most respected legal journalists from the leading Israeli financial magazines, strategic advisors, and criminal advocates highly experienced in conducting high-profile cases.

For more information about the event, please see Zohar Fisher’s blogpost on the event, here.  Or contact the Central District of the Israel Bar Association at: http://www.tabar.org.il/.  Zohar can also be contacted via his LinkedIn profile here or via email at:  zohar@robus.co.il.

John Grimley helps law firms, law firm practice groups, individual lawyers, financial services and governmental relations professionals create and implement custom international business development plans. To enquire about his services, contact him at +1.213.814.2855 or at jg@jgrimley.com or on Skype at: JohnGrimley