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An article posted today on Ecns.cn points out why it is imperative that law firms in Latin America become aware of, understand, and respond to the growing role of China in Latin American business.

The same arguments are equally important for Chinese law firms.

Law firms in both regions are failing to respond to trends that could be profoundly important for their futures.

All law firms talk about "quality," but few can actually demonstrate it consistently. To ensure a significant return on investment, quality assurance must be planned and managed using supervision and documentation methods specific to each practice area. It must also incorporate the special needs and characteristics of risk management in legal practice.

With all the possible areas for improvement, even in well-managed firms, where should a law firm start to build a systematic, sustainable quality assurance system? We recommend that you begin with a quality assurance demonstration project.

As international law firms from outside the region become more deeply embedded in the legal markets of Asia, the leading local and national law firms, which previously may have held relatively secure market positions, must respond quickly and accurately to these new competitors, or face relegation to the lower, less-profitable levels of the market.

By Dennis Garcia - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2951354

For at least the last two decades, conventional wisdom has held that Central America is not an attractive market for setting up local operations of global firms, because of three key factors:

a money tree

Freshfields has announced a significant decline in profits, even as fee revenues increased slightly. Moreover, members of the firm's management team are taking an increase in their compensation.

Is it time to panic? Has the firm management gone mad?

We don't think so.

An article in The Lawyer suggests a more reasonable approach, which any law firm should be able to replicate.

forest in the fog

The Wharton School of Business, of the University of Pennsylvania, has published a very interesting podcast today at http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-biggest-risks-facing-the-world-in-2017/?utm_source=kw_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2017-01-19.

This podcast, along with the recently published Global Risks Report 2017 are "required reading" for every lawyer who is serious about sustaining the financial viability of his or her firm and practice.

leaf under a microscope

As the new year begins, many law firms are looking at their performance evaluation standards and procedures for associates. This is more than just another "HR exercise."

Our firm has identified a clear, direct, and positive correlation between the quality of performance standards for associates and the overall financial performance of a law firm. As profitability and competition become more challenging for most law firms, many are concluding that it is time to get serious about associate performance.

In our experience, most law firm partnerships have never really discussed this question in depth. They also haven't considered how their assumptions about what makes an "the ideal partner" can be very firm-specific and can change over time. As a result, they spend far too much time making decisions that often are unreliable.

Click here to download the results of "Who is the ideal partner in a modern law firm?"

Vladivostok

Following the Eastern Economic Forum, sponsored by the Russian government on 2-3 September 2016 in Vladivostok, investment interest in the Russian Far East has remained high, especially among Korean investors and businesses. This will produce significant opportunities for a limited number of Russian and Asia-Pacific law firms that can develop and execute well-informed strategies for this new legal market and implement them efficiently.

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This is the second of our series of briefings on high-potential legal markets in Asia for the next five years.

Vietnam will experience substantial growth in its economy and legal market in the next five years. In our view, it already is a "must be there" location for any international firm that is seriously interested in developing a Southeast Asian practice, especially law firms based in other parts of the Asia-Pacific region. We also expect that a group of well-regarded independent Vietnamese law firms can continue to compete effectively against the local offices of foreign law firms, provided that they can clearly communicate and demonstrate competitive levels of expertise and advantages for sophisticated international clients.