A few months ago, William Cook found himself in India — New Delhi, to be exact — speaking with a manager for his firm’s second-largest client. They were, thankfully, in an air-conditioned conference room, discussing an outsourcing program, and the very earnest manager wanted to know where the firm conducted its Indian business, because foreign lawyers can’t yet set up shop in the country.

Do you have an office in Singapore? the manager asked. No, replied Cook, who at the time worked for Atlanta-based Alston & Bird. Well, then, you must manage it from your Hong Kong office? We don’t have an office in Hong Kong, said Cook. The West Coast? Negative.

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