Legislating, Decision-Making, Practice and Education
Edited by Mary Hiscock and William van Caenegem
Chapter 6: The Export of Professional Legal Services: ILSAC and the Australian Experience
Ian Govey* Internationalisation of trade and commerce is not a new or recent phenomena. However, the speed and depth of that internationalisation over the last 20 years, particularly the internationalisation of trade in services, has been remarkable. The World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) came into force on 1 January 1995 encouraging greater liberalisation and introducing a set of rules for international trade in services. Overall, Australia’s services exports grew by over 80 per cent over the next ten years from 1996. In 1989, when the Law School at Bond opened, Australia’s exports of legal services totalled Aus$67m.1 In 2006–07, a survey commissioned by the International Legal Services Advisory Council (ILSAC) revealed that legal services exports amounted to Aus$675 million.2 Over the last 20 years, with the growth in international trade and investment, law firms have followed their clients to numerous countries to provide legal services sought by clients at a standard and quality known to them. This internationalisation process has, over the last two decades, provided Australian law firms with new opportunities for growth internationally. This potential is welcomed by our law firms, particularly as the highly competitive domestic market appears to provide limited opportunities for further growth for the larger firms. These international legal services are typically provided through establishing a branch office, including joint ventures and formal alliances overseas, or on a temporary fly-in, fly-out basis. Both of these mechanisms encounter difficulties due to the structural and regulatory barriers imposed...
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