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International law firms have evolved not least because global clients need legal advisers who can look after all aspects of multi-billion dollar cross-border deals. They therefore operate in precisely the kind of market where catastrophic claims could easily arise. Many of these firms are structured as a single partnership with branches in a number of financial centres. A mistake in one territory could become a personal catastrophe for every one of the partners. Even partners practising in different continents and time zones, and who have no personal responsibility for the mistake whatsoever, could be bankrupted.

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