As lead of Foley & Lardner’s Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations International Practice group, David Simon can’t think of the law as something that stops at the U.S. border.
The partner at Foley & Lardner’s Milwaukee office’s duties regularly have him conducting domestic and international internal investigations, defending companies and senior executives in enforcement actions and litigation with the government, and giving regulatory advice.
“Our clients really need expertise and experience in different countries to solve the kinds of problems we’re faced with in our practice,” Simon said.
To secure that experience for Foley’s clients, Simon helped start the Concilium Global Compliance, Investigations & Defense Network in December. The network connects 15 international law firms who work in corporate compliance, internal investigations and government-enforcement defense.
“We can seamlessly work together to solve our clients’ problems,” Simon said.
Foley is the only U.S. law firm in the network. Simon is part of the founding board, which is making decisions about membership and client relationships. He said board members are determined to find quality firms to join rather than choose attorneys simply according to their locations.
The Wisconsin Law Journal talked with Simon about the Concilium’s standards for quality and its beginnings.
Wisconsin Law Journal: How did you start building this network?
David Simon: The core group of us who started this — there’s a lawyer from India, myself and a lawyer from Germany — we had worked together on a variety of cases and had relationships predating this. We all have very global practices and have worked with different lawyers over time. We were able to combine our initial networks to identify the core group, and then we’ve been building from there.
WLJ: Why is it necessary for your practice?
Simon: We identified a real need to have a group of lawyers who have expertise in this area who do quality work, who understand our clients, who understand how U.S. businesses work and what they’re expecting, who speak English, who are available and who can solve these problems. This expertise is not that easy to find. It requires more than just a referral network.
WLJ: With this type of expertise being hard to find, how are you finding new members?
Simon: We’re building slowly because quality is our absolute number-one criteria. We’re not just looking to fill in people because they happen to be in a particular jurisdiction. We want to always find the right lawyer and the right law firm. A big part of our task right now is recruiting — identifying the right firms, vetting them, doing the appropriate due diligence, making sure they can provide the goods.
WLJ: What are you doing to ensure the integrity of the group?
Simon: We’re focusing a lot of energy on that. We’re doing things like developing best practices for conducting internal investigations to ensure a level of quality control in the work. Obviously, the most important part is selecting the right lawyers and law firms who get it, are good at it and understand what we’re doing, but we’re supplementing that with best practices and training. We meet at least annually and are connecting by phone more frequently.
(What’s) most important about this is we actually know each other and have worked with each other. Some global networks are basically directories. It’s fine to have someone who has a reputation of quality. It’s a different thing altogether if you’ve worked on a case together, handled an investigation together, presented on some other topic together. We think that level of personal connection is really important as a quality-control function as well.
Concilium Global Compliance, Investigations & Defense Network Membership