Foreign clients not ignorant, says partner

UK lawyers working in the international marketplace should not consider clients stupid because they are foreign, warned Warner Cranston partner Ian Fagelson.

Speaking at a joint US/UK forum in Chicago, London-based Fagelson told delegates that if they wanted to be successful on the international legal scene they had to pay attention to basics such as matching their IT to international standards, staffing themselves with lawyers experienced in a variety of jurisdictions and preparing themselves to work variable hours.

He said the work could be done by firms of all sizes, but all UK lawyers would have to develop a more open approach to billing, particularly with US clients, by being flexible on the standard hourly rate.

Fagelson said lawyers should not approach cases on a “cookie cutter basis”, assuming clients had no knowledge of the UK simply because they lived under other jurisdictions.

“Foreign clients shouldn't be treated as ignorant of the business world,” said Fagelson. “Find out how much experience they have in international transactions involving your jurisdiction. Just because they're foreign it doesn't mean to say they know nothing about your country.

“The client has the right, when selecting counsel to work on an international transaction, to have a team which has worked on international transactions in his country before.”