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At White & Case, a software program alerts a lawyer in New York whether the firm’s Beijing-based attorney already drafted a similar document. At Clifford Chance, one can expect to find glass-enclosed conference rooms and dark wood tables in any office around the world. And at Reed Smith, lawyers get a chance to meet their worldwide colleagues during “speed networking sessions,” when associates from all locations unite in one place. As the nation’s largest law firms expand their global reach and open offices in more remote locations, they are working harder to stay integrated and preserve a common goal. Whether it’s new technology, retreats that involve itineraries from several continents or busier travel schedules for the managing partners, the nation’s largest firms have been finding creative ways to meet the challenge of maintaining a unifying vision. At White & Case, which last year ranked sixth in The National Law Journal’s 2006 survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms, knowledge management has played a key role in connecting more than 2,000 lawyers across 23 countries, said Eugene Stein, chief knowledge and technology officer. The firm uses a software program that stores millions of documents lawyers may access to work more efficiently and cut down on duplicate work. For example, an attorney working on a contract may get a message on his screen alerting him that a colleague across the world has already drafted a similar document. A couple of years ago, four securities lawyers in New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong realized they were all starting to focus in the area of private investment funds, thanks to the system, Stein said. “They started finding each other’s documents and started talking and working together,” he said. Holland & Knight lawyers can dial a five-digit extension to reach their colleagues, whether they are in Finland, Japan, Venezuela or New York. Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski’s intellectual property lawyers rely on “radio frequency tags” � magnetic tags attached to files � to keep track of which lawyer has which documents out. The firm operates in 16 worldwide locations, including Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Hong Kong. Voice mail is one of several ways O’Melveny & Myers’ attorneys stay abreast of what’s happening at the firm, where one practice head became famous for his weekly case updates over the telephone. Like many firms, Latham & Watkins, the nation’s fourth-biggest firm, keeps 1,900 lawyers connected by making information such as the firm’s financial statements and managing partners’ video messages available on the firm’s intranet, or private, in-house Internet. The firm’s 24 offices have addresses in cities such as Barcelona, Spain; London; and Tokyo. “It’s a terrific force in helping to maintain a common culture and goals,” said Rick Bress, a litigation partner in the Washington office who is the global chairman of the firm’s associates committee. Bress said offices also do different things to help integrate associates, whether it’s dinner parties, happy hours, or handing out Starbucks cards to encourage new employees to get coffee with older employees. Cookie-cutter offices Clifford Chance, which calls itself “a truly integrated global law firm” on its Web site, ensures its offices look similar, have the same swipe-in system for entering the building and the same method for ordering food from the cafeteria, said Craig Medwick, regional managing partner for the Americas for the firm, which has 28 offices in 20 countries, including Luxembourg, Russia and Singapore. While he jokingly pointed out that the New York office does not have a swimming pool like the one in London, Clifford Chance has ensured that even its letterheads, which used to be different in Paris and New York, are the same. “It’s about uniformity of content,” he said. “There is a Clifford Chance way of doing business.” As firms grow globally, training has also become a key piece of the puzzle, said Andrew Kramer, a partner in the Washington office of Jones Day, the third-largest U.S. firm with more than 2,200 lawyers. The firm has 29 offices, including Milan, Italy; Sydney, Australia; and Taipei, Taiwan. “The challenge is to make sure you provide the quality of service in one office that you would provide in another office,” said Kramer, whose firm’s slogan is “One firm worldwide.” A number of leading firms said associate training academies, practice group conferences, partner retreats and firm-wide meetings are crucial to helping maintain a united purpose. Many such get-togethers at Reed Smith are used to spread the firm’s message, said managing partner Greg Jordan. “They really have a simple mission, which is to remind people who we are, what we have become, who their partners and colleagues are, and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Jordan said. Next year, DLA Piper, the nation’s second-largest law firm, expects it will need 1,400 rooms to accommodate its employees during a firmwide meeting, said Terry O’Malley, co-managing partner for the United States. With 3,200 lawyers scattered in 63 offices across 24 countries, DLA Piper needs to ensure everyone is aware of the firm’s culture, he said. “We believe there is no substitute for working together across geographies,” he said. John Conroy, who chairs the executive committee at Baker & McKenzie, the world’s largest law firm, said that there is no substitute for personal contact when it comes to integration. “You don’t have that friendship and trust unless people get together,” said Conroy, whose firm employs more than 3,500 lawyers in 38 countries. “We spend a lot of money doing that, but we believe it’s one of the most important elements in creating a culture of friendship and trust.” The globetrotters In 2006, the nation’s 250 largest firms had 108,819 U.S. offices, an increase of 13% since 2001, according to NLJ 250 data. During the same period, the number of non-U.S. offices grew by 62%, to 13,724. The globalization of the legal world has turned many managing partners into globetrotters as they hop from continent to continent to spread their firm’s message. “One of the most critical things to do is to project leadership across geography,” said Dave Johnson, a partner in the Century City, Calif., office of O’Melveny & Myers. Johnson, whose firm employs more than 1,000 attorneys in 13 offices, called these visits an example of a “hot medium,” instead of the “cold medium,” which includes e-mails and other indirect communication. Steven Pfeiffer, chairman of the executive committee at Fulbright & Jaworski, which often adds “international law firm” in front of its name, said in-person visits are crucial for a global law firm. “If you want to be one firm and you want to have everybody sharing the same vision about client services and the future of the firm and the strategies for growth of the firm, you’ve got to share information and have your leadership group move around,” he said. But in a world filled with conflicts, even such visits can present challenges for these global players. Holland & Knight’s managing partner, Howell Melton, said his visit to the firm’s Tel Aviv, Israel, office has been delayed for about two years because of security issues. Luckily, he said he can use other ways to communicate across the firm, including the firm’s intranet, which is updated twice daily. Latham’s Bress said that, like most firms, his uses many strategies to grow as one firm. “There isn’t a particular button you can push to make sure everyone appreciates culture,” he said. “We’re constantly trying to think of new ways to improve our communication and integration and make sure we don’t lose sight of what we think makes us special. Because if you lose that, then we really lose our game.”

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