Global Law Firms: Globalization and Organizational Spaces of Cross-Border Legal Work

Faulconbridge, James R., Beaverstock, Jonathan V., Muzio, Daniel, Taylor, Peter J. | January 1, 2008

The aim of this paper is not, however, to generically chart the rise of the global law firm; others have already done this. Instead, our interest lies in better understanding how existing geographies of globalization of law and lawyers, alongside the new geographies of professional partnership and legal work, have created opportunities and challenges for global law firms. More specifically, we seek to unravel the complexities of: (a) the factors driving the presence and absence of global law firms in different cities; and (b) the way that law firms have been reconfigured to operate as spatially distributed organizations present in cities as far apart as New York and Tokyo and London and Hong Kong. As we show, the decision “to be there” and the intricacies of operating as a global organization are both issues that have unique peculiarities when examined in relation to law and law firms, something that prevents generalization from existing studies of other professional industries. To date, however, limited attention has been paid to these organizational peculiarities. This paper seeks to fill this research void, something that is significant because the peculiarities of how global law firms operate provide the foundations upon which allow the likes of Clifford Chance to become lubricators of global capitalism through transnational lawyering and lawmaking.