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Although law firms today face a seemingly vast array of strategic, operational, and management challenges arising from the globalization of the legal services industry, there are at least five emerging trends that characterize law firms that are successfully building profitable cross-border and multinational practices, even when based in only one office or country. 

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This commentary by international law expert (and former Walker Clark senior consultant) Gerald J. Kirkpatrick shows a way forward for the United Nations, if the United States and other western powers want to lead the way.

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Above all, to be the successful law firms of the future will practice a culture of resilience.

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Successful law firms in the future will not only keep up with trends and developments; they will lead them.

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Quality must be more than a slogan on a law firm's website.

Quality management is perhaps the last great frontier for leaders and managers in traditional law firms.

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One defining characteristic of the successful law firm of the future -- indeed, of any legal service provider -- is already visible in many of the most successful law firms today.

The successful law firm of the future will be able to deliver a high degree of responsiveness and service quality anytime and anywhere the client needs legal services.

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The successful law firm of the future will be almost unrecognizable to most law firm members today.

Unprecedented workflow leverage will create opportunities for exponential increases in productivity and unprecedented challenges to manage it.

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Your law firm is making money today.

But what about next year?

What about ten years from now?

Do you even know how you are profitable today?

Winslow Homer, "An Afterglow"

"My lawyer is my best friend."

How often has a client said that about you?

"Client intimacy," not just good client service, will be an important feature of the successful law firm of the future.

Eduard Krause-Wichmann - Die Stettiner Vulcan-Werft (1905)

The law firm of the future will probably be more like a shipyard than a factory.

The conversion is already underway in many law firms.