As recent reports indicate, the demand for legal services is continuing to globalize. And while many of these reports tend to focus on work associated with larger law firms – lawyers in firms of all sizes can benefit from the globalization of legal services.  With this in mind, below I’ve listed 5 basic places lawyers can look to find new foreign clients.  Keep in mind that any business development plan a lawyers is seeking to initiate must be carefully tailored to his or her own practice. 

1. Google Them – This may sound simple.  But it requires an understanding of who and what you want to Google.  Essentially, if you’re working in or running a business-focused law firm anywhere in the world – you want to begin seeking to identify which companies are looking to expand in or enter your market.  Google allows you to search not just news stories but also blogposts and websites which provide this information, and save those searches which can be sent directly to your email address at intervals you choose.

2. Trade Associations & Trade Shows – All around the world trade associations, whether private or governmental, actively seek to help member companies, among other things, expand overseas.  Here I’d suggest first determining what countries represent the largest sources of foreign direct investment into your country – and then seek to identify trade associations in those countries.  This search can be expanded later after this initial first-step.  Too, trade shows in your own country and in neighboring countries, present a cost-effective means by which to get in front of not only foreign but also domestic firms seeking new market share.  Attend those most suited to your ideal prospective client base.

3. Other Professional Services Firms — Seek to identify law firms, investment banks, accounting firms and other professional services firms within those foreign economies that are a main source of inbound investment, and where those firms would appear to be ideal referral partners.  Get to know a good representative group and determine their interest in an active, joint business development effort.  Developing an active bilateral business development effort with foreign services firms can and should be an important focus for any lawyer or law firm seeking to generate business from new foreign markets.

4. International Newspapers and Magazines – Via the internet and in print, newspapers and specialist publications related to the sectors your ideal clients are in – are an excellent way to not only identify new potential clients – but also to learn about the overall commercial context these companies are operating in.  These publications will frequently carry stories related to cross-border trade and investment, which helps provide the all-important bigger picture.

5. Foreign Embassies or Consulates — Wherever you are in the world – it’s likely that many foreign countries that are a source of investment into yours – will have an embassy or consulate representing not just the diplomatic, but also the commercial interests of their country.  Get to know the embassy or consulate staff.  Learn of trade missions and opportunities to meet with foreign companies.

Build a basic effort first then expand it later

The above list is a basic starting point for lawyers to find foreign clients.  Importantly, lawyers should also seek to tailor their practices to make them a conduit to opportunity for foreign clients.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. An independent writer & editor, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group 2014).

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