Thursday, 13 June 2019 – Rise of the boutique law firm
Doing business with international partners – whether it be an entity operating on Australian soil or a local brand venturing offshore – can be fraught with difficulty.
Between establishing a fresh customer base, navigating new laws, regulations and corporate governance, creating effective relationships and becoming nuanced with cultural mores (perhaps the trickiest of all), the business of doing business has the potential to bring an enterprise undone.
For instance, exchanging a business card using one hand rather than two can be seen as a sign of disrespect in some cultures. Who would necessarily know?
With Australians increasingly undertaking business across the world and with Asian powerhouses such as Japan, Korea and China, navigating the behind-the-scenes landscape, as well as providing direct services and advice, has become all important.
Business owners and operators need to focus on what they do best, so employing people who specialise in troubleshooting make-or-break sensitive legal, technical and cultural matters is a vital and strategic move.
Sydney’s H & H Lawyers offers this official and unofficial role in its capacity as a firm on the path to being Australia’s biggest ‘‘Asian’’ law firm.
H & H Lawyers’ services include commercial and corporate advisory, acquisitions, dispute resolution, employment law, corporate migration and intellectual property.
“Our bilingual lawyers have been inundated with work representing multinational corporations and government agencies from Japan, Korea and China that want to expand their businesses into Australia,” says Principal Ken Hong.
“We have also been very busy acting for local clients with Japanese, Korean or Chinese backgrounds, or that have transactions with their counterparts in those three countries.
“Demand for our services has escalated, so we are rapidly expanding to meet the demand.’’
Fellow Principal Yukio Hayashi says a vital aspect of the firm’s work includes “bridging fundamental cultural differences”.
“This cross-cultural dexterity is not necessarily part of our brief, but it’s what we offer as well, as it is so essential,’’ he says.
“Our team not only speaks the languages, but also intimately understands the cultural nuances of Asia. This saves our clients so much time in getting straight to the actual issues and resolutions. Without the right knowledge of culture, a lot of key messages can be lost in translation, particularly legal concepts, leading to a frustrating experience for all.
“We had one situation recently in which there was an investment in an Australian business by a Japanese company. There were excellent managers and staff in situ, but the incoming management from Japan had their way of doing things that did not rest well with the Australian team, and vice versa.”
“This friction was no one’s fault, but we made it our job to navigate the cultural minefield. We were able to get each side to see things from the other’s perspective and that made all the difference.”
Hong and Hayashi say that by going this extra mile, the law firm can resolve difficulties and help international-facing businesses to thrive.
“The importance of Australia’s trade relationships with Korea, China and Japan need no further explanation,’’ says Hong.
“They are our top three trading partners. We look forward to continuing with our work and contributing to Australia’s successful trade relationships with those three countries.”
Says Hayashi: “Our firm is well placed and equipped to help clients have a more fruitful, efficient and enjoyable experience in doing business.’’