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How in-house counsel can help position their companies for success in the evolving global marketplace was addressed today at a SuperConference panel discussion titled, “The Global Practice of Law.” The panelists offered advice on how to handle a variety of issues from dealing with counterfeit products and theft of technology to helping companies better realize the importance of understanding and respecting cultural differences as well as foreign regulatory requirements.
Jenner & Block Partner Terrence J. Truax introduced the three panelists: Peter Wexler, Associate General Counsel, American Power Conversion Corporation; Roger H. Marks, Former President, International Division, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, H2O Plus Inc.; and Karen Klein, Vice President Legal, Cendant Travel Distribution Services Group, Inc., while Jennifer Mailander of LexisNexis served as moderator.
According to Mr. Wexler, significant global events can have a ripple effect on US-based companies via ripple impact as they spread to companies’ foreign subsidiaries and, eventually, the entire company. If not properly dealt with, issues such as emergence of counterfeit products can erode the market brand and decrease profits. It is up to in-house counsel, he said, to find the best way to manage such problems overseas, often with help of trusted local foreign counsel and authorities.
Drawing on his many years of experience of doing business overseas, Mr. Marks also stressed the key role familiarity with local counsel as well as cultural customs can play in successfully closing a deal. He said that often international business deals fail because of lack of understanding between the parties regarding the cultural differences involved. Through being sensitive to cultural differences and making an effort to make a legal relationship with potential client more personalized, he advised, in-house counsel can help a company better understand the culture and successfully close a deal.
Ms. Klein stressed the importance of spotting problematic issues at as early a date as possible and as companies start acquisition into foreign markets. She advised the use of cross functional teams, including tax experts, to proactively anticipate and address problems that could arise later on.