Carl Anduri, the president of the Lex Mundi legal network, talks to Ranajit Dam about how the organisation has evolved in the last decade and a half, how it sets itself apart from the competition, and the benefits that member firms receive
ALB: Can you tell us a bit about your career so far? What brought you to Lex Mundi, and what are your key functions and responsibilities as president?
Anduri: My career history is fairly straightforward. I’ve only been at two organizations, and those organizations are related. I joined Morrison & Foerster right out of law school when the firm had only one office and 50 lawyers in San Francisco. I was the first managing partner of the firm’s Hong Kong office in 1983 and the first managing partner of the firm’s Tokyo office in 1987. Morrison is a truly great law firm, and I was very fortunate to be in on the ground floor of the development of its international capabilities. Morrison is a member of Lex Mundi. What attracted me to the Lex Mundi position was the incredible client-service potential of a global network of top tier law firms. As CEO my main responsibility is to work with our Board of Directors and member firms to develop the strategies that will realize that potential and then carry out those strategies.
ALB: How would you say that Lex Mundi has evolved during your time as president? What would you say have been some of the notable achievements?
Anduri: When I become president in 2000, Lex Mundi was already the world’s leading network of independent law firms. The evolution has been towards becoming a much more proactive client-facing organization that provides three types of resources to clients – professional development programs that include business and management training; insights about global legal and business trends to inform the decisions of senior in-house counsel; and coordinated support for projects involving multiple jurisdictions.
At the same time, we have focused on providing much greater resources to our member firms to help them serve clients better, to help them increase their client base and to help them continuously improve. Lex Mundi has developed a strong central staff to support our member firms. When I began in 2000, there were four of us. We now have 29 staff members for Lex Mundi and the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.
Achievements include the institutionalization of a membership review process to ensure a strong membership. Membership is not permanent. If a firm is not in the top tier in its jurisdiction, if it is not providing high quality services or if it is not active within Lex Mundi, its membership will not be renewed. The Board of Directors takes its responsibility to make these decisions very seriously. The review process is administered by our Vice President, Melinda Eggenberger.
We are the only network with a professional development function. Our Director of Professional Development, Suzanne Fine, came to us from Linklaters, where she was the global head of knowledge and learning. Suzanne and her team support our member firms in their training initiatives. And Lex Mundi has its own training academy, the Lex Mundi Institute, that offers five intensive, week-long programs each year – Cross-Border Transactions; Cross-Border Dispute Resolution; management programs for new partners and for managing partners; and a Business Management Program presented in collaboration with the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. More than 1,000 of our member firm lawyers have completed these week-long programs.
Suzanne and her team also develop a series of Best Practice Guides for use by our member firms. They work with our member firms to help them improve their project management skills and to enhance their knowledge management capabilities. We have also retained a knowledge management consultant to work with our member firms in the Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean regions.
This year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation. The Foundation, led by its Managing Director, Chloe Holderness, matches social entrepreneurs who are in need of pro bono legal assistance with our member firm lawyers. To date 92 of our member firms have provided help to more than 450 social entrepreneurs on more than 1,000 matters in 57 countries around the world.
We established a Client Advisory Council that consists of general counsel of leading multinational companies. They attend regional conferences, provide advice to our Board of Directors and receive access to our resources for corporate legal departments.
We have established a very strong marketing group within Lex Mundi, led by our Director of Marketing and Communications, Kathleen Pope-Sance. Kathleen and her team have formed strong relationships with corporate counsel associations and have significantly raised the profile of Lex Mundi.
More recently we established a business development function within Lex Mundi, led by our Director of Business Development, Eric Staal. His group works with in-house counsel and member firms to develop bespoke services for clients to address complex, cross-border challenges. He also oversees our regional initiatives, most recently bringing on board our Singaporebased Head of Business Development and Strategy, Asia/Pacific, Edwin Seah.
ALB: The legal network space globally has a number of players. How does Lex Mundi set itself apart from the competition?
Anduri: What sets Lex Mundi apart is the quality of our member firms. No other organization comes close.
We combine the advantage of a high quality membership with resources to support those members. This gives our member firms the ability to work together to serve clients at the highest level on their greatest challenges – anywhere in the world.
ALB: What are some of the provisions you have to ensure that only quality law firms are members of Lex Mundi? What are some of the most important benefits these firms receive?
Anduri: We are very careful when we bring in a new member firm. We never invite a firm to become a member unless it is a full-service, top-tier firm in its jurisdiction. And as I explained, membership is not permanent. We systematically and rigorously review our member firms as part of our membership review process. And while a firm is a member, we provide support to help that firm continuously improve.
One of the most important benefits of membership is privileged access to very high quality member firms around the world – which gives each member firm the capability to serve existing clients and to attract new clients. Member firms also have access to many forms of information, best practices, educational programs and materials that help them serve clients and help them improve their client-service capabilities. Member firms receive referrals from other member firms. But it is important to note that there is no requirement that member firms refer work to other member firms; firms are free to do – and are expected to do - whatever is in the best interests of the client.
Member firms benefit from Lex Mundi’s marketing and business development activities.
ALB: According to recent data, Lex Mundi covers the most jurisdictions and boasts among the largest numbers of attorneys. Where do you still see room for growth and improvement?
Anduri: We would like to have member firms in each jurisdiction in which clients of member firms need assistance and in which there are firms that meet the Lex Mundi membership standards. To be frank, in some jurisdictions we can identify the best firm, but that firm might not meet the standards. We continue to observe several jurisdictions.
That being said, our policy for the past fifteen years has been to focus more on improving our services for our existing member firms than on expanding our membership.
ALB: What expansion plans do you have for the Asian region in the near future?
Anduri: We are closely monitoring several jurisdictions in the Asian region, but our main focus is on creating more value for our existing members and for clients doing business in the region. For example, we have retained a consultant to help member firms enhance their knowledge management capabilities, and our Head of Business Development and Strategy, Asia/Pacific, is an important resource to facilitate inbound and outbound client projects in the region.