U.S. Educated Lawyers Abroad

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theartofwar
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Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:26 pm

U.S. Educated Lawyers Abroad

Postby theartofwar » Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:39 pm

As I was browsing the profiles of biglaw associates practicing in foreign markets (i.e. Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, etc.) I noticed that there were quite a few U.S. educated lawyers in the mix. What exactly do these lawyers do? I'm assuming they work on transnational transactions, but how exactly does U.S. law fit in to all of this?

zomginternets
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Re: U.S. Educated Lawyers Abroad

Postby zomginternets » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:23 am

I asked a similar question in a different section of this forum and this was the most useful response I got:

There are two realistic ways to practice internationally. One is to do transactions or (much less realistic) international arbitration at a big, multinational firm.

Another suboption related to this first option is to work as a foreign legal consultant at a Japanese or Korean firm. Japan has a few large homegrown firms, such as Anderson Mori, Nagashima Ohno (both in Tokyo), and Oh-ebashi (Osaka) (there are a couple of others that I just forget at the moment), and Korea has basically one megafirm for corporate work called Kim and Chang. All of these firms employ foreigners to facilitate work that they do in English. At the Japanese firms, though, you will definitely be a second-class citizen with less pay and less substantive work--more like a staff attorney at a US biglaw firm than an associate, although the roles don't quite map exactly onto each other. I suspect this is also the case at Kim and Chang, although it seems like you get more "real" work there as an FLC. (That said, Kim and Chang is notorious for hours that make NYC biglaw seem like the French civil service--it's a set 6-day work week, you'll often work that 7th day, and 12 hours at the office per working day is pretty standard.)



Go onto a US firm's website in Hong Kong (OMM and PH are two that come to mind), and they'll give you a little more info on the types of transactions they are involved in.

theartofwar
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:26 pm

Re: U.S. Educated Lawyers Abroad

Postby theartofwar » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:19 am

Thanks for the recommendations, but the descriptions seem to be very broad. I should note that most specifically, I'm interested in capital markets and M&A. Below is an outline of what I THINK I've figured out, but please correct me where I'm wrong...

If foreign companies are seeking U.S. capital, I guess it makes sense for them to use a lawyer with an American legal training.

However, what about instances in which American companies are seeking foreign capital or are looking to invest in foreign countries? This would have to be done within the legal framework of the foreign country, and there is not much an American lawyer could do if not admitted to practice in the particular country.

What about situations involving a cross border M&A transaction? I'm assuming that it must satisfy the conditions required by both legal systems--and the American lawyer would be responsible for the portion involving compliance with the U.S. legal system.

Can anyone more experienced point me in the right direction? :?:
Last edited by theartofwar on Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

bhan87
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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:08 pm

Re: U.S. Educated Lawyers Abroad

Postby bhan87 » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:27 am

From what I've heard, it's best to first work biglaw stateside before going overseas because otherwise you bring no valuable asset to clients. I suspect you're right that cross-border transactions require compliance in both countries, which means that an American lawyer would provide useful advice in such situations. However, you won't be able to give said advice unless you've dealt with American M&As extensively.

I've heard that there have been cases where lawyers that went overseas directly out of law schools got stranded there because they had no valuable experience to contribute to domestic law offices. And due to their lack of heavy experience, they likely weren't that useful in the overseas office either.

Also note, if you're going to work for a biglaw firm satellite office overseas, you will be the most vulnerable to cuts if the financial situation of the firm goes sour.

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wiseguy33
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Re: U.S. Educated Lawyers Abroad

Postby wiseguy33 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:03 am

bhan87 wrote:I've heard that there have been cases where lawyers that went overseas directly out of law schools got stranded there because they had no valuable experience to contribute to domestic law offices. And due to their lack of heavy experience, they likely weren't that useful in the overseas office either.

Also note, if you're going to work for a biglaw firm satellite office overseas, you will be the most vulnerable to cuts if the financial situation of the firm goes sour.


I'm interested in international law, and this is what I've heard as well. Work abroad only if you want the experience of living abroad. (Though, note that you'll probably still be working BigLaw hours so you won't see much of London/Tokyo/Zaire.) It's hard to transfer back to a U.S. branch of your law firm, and it's hard to find a new job w/a U.S. law firm.

Just what I've heard from some practicing attorneys.




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