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The cover story in this issue of IP magazine stemmed from a comment made recently by Kulpreet Rana, the chief intellectual property attorney at Google Inc., which operates one of the world’s most popular Internet search engines. Rana was participating in a roundtable discussion, sponsored by The Recorder (which publishes this magazine), about effective working relationships between in-house legal departments and outside counsel. Rana happened to mention Google’s need to find someone to help the company work through a delicate situation in the fall after the government of China blocked computer users in that country from gaining access to the Google Web site. Although he didn’t go into details, Rana said the company relied on someone who enjoyed “relationships” with Chinese officials to help sort through the thorny problems. In other words, here was a situation where a skilled lawyer was not enough to help the client. As he went about reporting the story ( “Hitting the Wall”), freelance writer Mark Thompson discovered other instances in which traditional lawyering has taken a back seat to more amorphous approaches to business-related problem solving, particularly when dealing with foreign governments or other entities. Not surprisingly, many of those cases have involved disputes surrounding treatment of intellectual property, access to technology and other issues that tend to create political friction in various countries around the world. The focus of his story is China, a country that continues to keep a tight rein on access to the Internet within its borders while only gingerly giving a nod to conventional legal approaches to various intellectual property issues. Thompson’s story serves as a reminder that even though the digital revolution has made the world a much smaller place, there are still large gaps when it comes to exporting our own legalistic ethos around the global village. China and the Internet are also on the agenda in Miriam Sapiro’s commentary ( “Online Order”) on the future of the Internet-governing organization known as ICANN. A former adviser to President Clinton, Sapiro applauds China for hosting a recent ICANN meeting in Shanghai and points to the obstacles as well as the opportunities when it comes to building an effective global group that is charged with ensuring efficient Internet operations around the world. Closer to home, meanwhile, freelance writer Jennifer Thelen examines the demise of Los Angeles’ Lyon & Lyon, a venerable IP boutique that failed to keep up with the business times and closed its doors in the summer. If lawyering has its limits overseas, the business of lawyering continues to face its own challenges right here on American soil.

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