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Written by Norman Clark
Published: 28 January 2016
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"Tochal from Modarres Expressway" by Kamyar Adl - flickr.com. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

Some of your best clients are.

The lifting of international sanctions against Iran this month has created significant new opportunities for foreign businesses and investors of all sizes, not just the global giants. Some of these businesses and investors might already be your law firm's clients.

Is your firm ready for the new demands and opportunities that these clients can present to your firm?

The Economist Economic Unit, in their 2016 Global Forecast, anticipates an investment boom in Iran this year. The Iranian GDP is projected reach a annual growth rate of 7%. The Economist expects up to US $100 billion in foreign investment in the energy sector alone by 2021. The main players in the Iranian market are likely to be Russian, Chinese, and European companies, with a particular emphasis in the automotive, energy, and infrastructure sectors. There also will be -- and it appears to be emerging already -- a dramatic increase in the demand for high-end consumer goods.

South Korea also expressed a high level of interest this week in construction projects in Iran. President Park Geun-hye's office confirmed earlier today that she is considering a trade visit in the near future, concerned that South Korea might be falling behind European governments in beginning to explore deals with Iran.

Should your law firm start looking for office space in Tehran?

It's probably too soon to do that, but you should be alert to -- and ready to respond to --  the interests that some of your clients might have in Iranian investment.

U.S. law firms should also consider the need to develop expertise in the U.S. trade sanctions that still remain, and the probability that they might be relaxed for some foreign subsidiaries of U.S. enterprises. 

As with most new opportunities, alertness, clarity of strategic thought, and close relationships with your clients who have international investments and business operations -- especially in the energy and construction sectors -- will be much more important to your success than the size of your law firm.  However, the time to start thinking hard about Iran, and to begin to take purposeful action is now -- in the early months of 2016. Those who wait even until the end of this year could find themselves at a considerable disadvantage. As with so many other new opportunities in international legal practice, the early entrants can establish a substantial, and in some instances insurmountable, advantage over those who prefer the "wait and see" approach.

Should your law firm be considering an "Iran plank" in your marketing and business development plans? Walker Clark LLC can help your firm to make a well-informed decision about whether Iran should be part of your strategic thinking in 2016, with a focused, cost-effective strategic analysis of this potential opportunity, tailored to your firm and your client base. To learn more, please contact me by e-mail.

Norman Clark