It once seemed that the remote Antipodean law firms might
find a new lease of life by expanding into Asia. Today, it
seems more likely that they will become talent pools for the
major global firms with ambitious Asian expansion plans.
Fibre optic cables buried under oceans and satellites
circling the globe have made the world seem smaller, but the
journey from New York to Sydney can still cost you a couple of
days. Local firms, well aware of their isolation, are starting
to accept that they must escape their home markets to survive,
but many are hamstrung by conservatism, preferring instead to
wait for a piper to follow.
In the meantime, the leading US and UK legal franchises are
spinning intricate webs around the world, and their appetite
for staff is voracious. Freshfields added about 1,000 lawyers
in 2000, and became Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in the
process. Baker & McKenzie has 60 offices...