Globalisation poses issues
Forming a multi-national partnership in the UK can throw up liability problems, says Clare Murray
Foreign law firms have had offices in London for many years where they practise the law of their home country. The reason for their existence has been to attract work to the head office.Strategies have changed. Increasingly, such offices are developing English law capability and senior solicitors and partners are being recruited.An English solicitor is generally not allowed to share profits with somebody who is not a solicitor. But there is an exception for solicitors in a multi-national partnership (MNP) with registered foreign lawyers (RFLs). Foreign law firms establishing MNPs with solicitors in the UK face a conflict between commercial objectives and regulatory and liability issues. The overwhelming commercial objective of the (usually US) firms is to present the MNP to the outside world as part of a seamless global law firm, without any separate identity. English partnership law and regulatory issues present potential obstacles to that objective.
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