Firms need partners to tackle e-commerce

As the pressure in-creases for us to differentiate our firms, we must start to think outside the box and form alliances with other professional services providers.

It is often assumed that lawyers deal with implementing the law and lobbyists deal with the law as it is being developed.

According to Corinne Souza in So you want to be a lobbyist: “Most lawyers know as much about lobbying as John Prescott knows about dieting.”

And the connection between lawyers and public affairs practitioners has not been widely developed.

Public affairs companies are required not only to understand the political audience but also to deal with a range of business sectors and understand their clients’ business interests in all areas.

In this context, the in- depth sectorial expertise provided by a large legal team would be a considerable asset.

Both Brussels and Washington understand the concept of bringing legal expertise together with public affairs advice and have taken a different approach to lobbying.

Throughout the US and among the institutions of the European Union, law firms are the main providers of public affairs and public policy services.

This is vital when lobbying in Brussels, where it is necessary to ensure that a client’s argument has legal basis in EU law before presenting any case to opinion formers.

Clients have access to legal and public affairs advice and the security of operating within a legally regulated environment.

Legislative developments on e-commerce are of growing concern to business audiences, as conflicting proposals threaten to stifle the development of the internal e-commerce market.

If law firms bring legal and lobbying expertise under one roof, it is possible to form policy development and action groups that include people from all sectors of e-commerce, online marketing and retailing.

Such groups could meet the political and legislative information needs of clients involved in e-commerce development, particularly those who are less aware of the accumulation of legislation and policy affecting them.

Law firms could aim to ensure that EU law, and policy on e-commerce, corresponds with the objectives of the EU internal market and with the fast-changing applications of technology.

Such groups could encourage and maintain quality e-commerce consumer protection by promoting cross-border redress systems and other guaranteed protective measures.

Those that do not take account of opportunities and threats created by the expanding marketplace and skills of other professionals will find it difficult to differentiate their offering and, more importantly, add real value to their clients’ businesses.