4 Tips for Navigating the Waters of International Business

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on February 03, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As corporate counsel working in our increasingly border-free business world, you will no doubt at some point in your career have to deal with corporate counsel in other countries. Whether you all work for the same company and are spread across the globe, or you are working with attorneys from other companies, the rules of engagement remain the same.

To properly, and politely, interact with corporate counsel based in other countries, follow these four tips.

1. Cultural Differences

Subtle cultural differences can have huge ramifications. The slightest thing like a hand gesture that is commonplace here can be offensive to someone else. Make sure you do your research about cultural differences so you don't inadvertently offend anyone, and stay within expectations.

2. FCPA Compliance

Compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is tricky to begin with, and gets even trickier when cultural differences come in to play. What may be considered a bribe in the U.S., may be just plain old "doing business" somewhere else. Be sure you understand the difference, and make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to compliance.

3. Attorney-Client Privilege

In its latest issue of "Docket," the Association of Corporate Counsel discuss confidentiality and attorney-client privilege when doing business in other countries. The ACC cautions counsel to not assume that communications have more protections in the U.S.; instead, the U.S. may have more exceptions to confidentiality than other countries. Know the differences, and proceed with caution.

4. The Inevitable Trips

If you're doing business with counsel from other countries, an international business trip will be in the works at some point. Whether it's a global law department meeting, or a trip to close a deal, you can count on international travel. Since business trips have the image of being a lot more glamorous than they actually are, read up on our tips to make the most of your next international business trip.

While the hard and fast lines of borders and time zones diminish in this global economy, it's imperative that as corporate counsel, you become a global citizen. With these tips, you'll be well on your way.

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