It was pleasing to read "welcome to the two-stop shop" (1 May). It may interest your readers to know the issue of conflict goes further.
It is not just whether a practice may conflict itself out of further work by taking litigation instructions, or whether a partner's appointment as an arbitrator creates more problems, but how firms will manage cross jurisdictional and multidisciplinary issues.
The multidisciplinary partnership already exists (ABA take note). While attention must be given to the sensitivities of national administrative bodies, big-five accountants and US/UK law firms routinely rationalise their global representation by offering what is claimed to be a seamless cross-border service.
Clients in jurisdiction A are referred to as "partners" in jurisdiction B and often more than one discipline is involved in an advisory team. Behind the scenes problems exist. It is not simply having to choose between handling litigation or transactional law. The hidden issues centre on the administration of "shared" profits, different time and cost recording systems, fudged conflict rules, bridging the cultural divides between lawyer and accountant and clashing client engagement protocols. The result is internal friction and gives the lie to the notion of real globalisation and is actively frustrating referrals.
Consider the problems experienced in any amalgamation when only one discipline and jurisdiction is involved, then imagine what happens when other disciplines and cultures are brought together. The client becomes little more than the meat in the sandwich. Like all new ideas there will be teething problems before the benefits become apparent. In the interim the true global professional service firm requires a lot of fine tuning.
Ashley Balls, New Zealand