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Attorney Dino Barajas recently worked on a deal to build, develop and finance a hydroelectric power plant in Guatemala that had more than its share of international challenges. The project involved a Honduran developer with Lebanese roots, a bank from Trinidad and Tobago, a Dutch development bank, an Israeli contractor with an office in Guatemala and a German contractor with an office in Brazil. The deal took Barajas, a partner in the San Francisco office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, to Honduras, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, New York and Miami. “A lot of these projects, as the world gets more globalized, are bringing together lots of players from different parts of the world so you’re dealing with different time zones and different languages,” Barajas said. “At the end of the day, it’s a matter of trying to orchestrate everything together.” As they respond to their clients’ global needs, lawyers say coordinating is becoming an increasingly important part of their jobs. And for some companies, hiring law firms with global networks and decreasing the number of outside law firms have become ways to improve coordination of their increasingly global legal needs. Barajas said working on the $227 million project in Guatemala required a lot of organization and communication. “The hardest part is just coordinating everyone � coordinating cultures, coordinating expectations and keeping the deal moving forward because it’s so complex,” said Barajas, whose firm ranks No. 19 in The National Law Journal‘s survey of the country’s 250 biggest law firms. For companies involved in cross-border work, having the ability to communicate with outside counsel is also important, lawyers said. Law firms have responded by getting “relationship managers” to serve as the point people for clients, said Eric Lasry, a partner in the Paris office of Baker & McKenzie, which has more than 3,300 lawyers across the world. Heidi Levine, a New York-based partner in DLA Piper’s global litigation practice, said her job has increasingly become about managing relationships because of her clients’ global needs. “I’m often not the lawyer who’s working on litigation matter, I’m often the point person and the relationship manager,” she said. While law firms have created go-to-people for their clients, many large companies are selecting go-to law firms, thereby dramatically reducing their numbers of outside law firms. Levine said she has noticed that more multinational companies have changed the way they look for outside counsel, as the focus is no longer on the law firm’s location, but on its quality and global reach. As a result, many companies are now selecting a limited number of law firms that can address all of their legal needs, as opposed to looking for firms in all the regions in which they do business, she said. “You would be hard pressed to find a company that would send out a request for a proposal today that doesn’t have a global component,” Levine said. “There is not a lot in the legal world going on today that doesn’t have a global impact.” DLA Piper announced in February that it was selected by The Linde Group, a German-based international gas and engineering company, as one of its five legal providers � a drastic reduction from the previous 150 law firms. Lasry said that when Baker & McKenzie was chosen to represent a leading automaker � he declined to name which one it replaced about 200 law firms that served the company. And when Standard Chartered selected Baker & McKenzie for its outside counsel, it became one of only a handful of law firms representing the London-based global bank, he said. Statistics also point to this trend, as some companies are satisfying their global legal needs by choosing global law firms. In 2006, U.S. law departments used a median of eight law firms, a decline of 33.33% from the previous year’s median of 12 firms, according to a new survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel and Serengeti Law.

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