An article in today's on-line edition of The Lawyer, describes how Nike has constructed its own "network" of law firms to help manage its legal matters, which touch almost every country on the planet.
Consistent with The Lawyer's frequent use of over-the-top headlines, they describe the Nike Alliance as a "trendsetter." Actually, these "do it yourself" networks -- even large ones -- are nothing new, and the practice dates back at least to the "convergence" initiatives of large corporations in the mid-1990s. Other companies have been doing this or something similar for almost 20 years.
The results have varied widely, and the most significant factor appears to be the time and attention that in-house counsel invest in managing the "network" relationships. They do not function very well on auto-pilot.
This is a good strategic approach to managing a far-flung multinational legal portfolio, but it is hardly "trendsetting." The value of the article in The Lawyer is to remind multinational companies of all sizes of this often overlooked approach to managing their legal portfolios.
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