Lexlink is an International Network of Lawyers engaged in general practice. The members of Lexlink are authorised to practice law within their own jurisdiction and can provide services there for clients of other members using at least English as a language to conduct matters of corporate and business law, International transactions, commercial litigation, arbitration and taxation.
The ethos of Lexlink is that the members of the Lexlink Network are united by the same business philosophy, which emphasises the quality of legal services available for clients. Regular contact among the members of Lexlink is intended to create confidence in one another, leading to good cooperation and results.
The legal status of Lexlink is that it is simply an association of firms without being a partnership or any other legal contractual basis. It is governed by a Constitution, which is designed to be as simple as possible, and identifies the main conditions and practices resulting from membership.
These can be identified as speed, accuracy, and cultural difference. Because the membership get to know each other socially, they are better able to understand each other and develop a trust between each other, leading to more speedy delivery of advice. Each member of Lexlink knows that when advice is sought they must deliver accurate and quality service. Where there are national cultural differences Lexlink seeks to establish a level of understanding and similar approach to the client with a view to seeking their best interests in the resolution of their particular problem.
Communication in Lexlink is achieved by establishing that the language of the Network is English and by establishing an e-mail facility throughout the Network. Because members have got to know each other, telephonic communication is regular and has impressed clients with the ability to tackle problems speedily. Members of Lexlink meet at other times informally other than during the Annual Conference.
Cases are handled in Lexlink either directly by the introduced firm dealing with the Client or, alternatively, by the introducing firm seeking the advice from the member of Lexlink passing back that advice to their own client. A protocol has been established in Lexlink so that members are encouraged to establish at the beginning of the client relationship precisely the basis on which the advice is given so that liability issues are clear as between the two firms.
Referral fees are not paid in Lexlink. The experience of members of Lexlink with other legal networks is that this can lead to distortions and imbalance and disputes. Effective rotation of work around the Network should ensure that the members of Lexlink act fully in the best interests of their client and not with a view to seeking referral fees.
Lexlink itself seeks not to be the arbitrator of complaints by clients against individual members of Lexlink. The membership is encouraged to deal with complaints as between the two firms involved in the transaction. If this does not get resolved satisfactorily then reluctantly, the Executive Committee of Lexlink may well suggest how matters might be dealt with in the circumstances.
The Executive of Lexlink is a sub-committee made up of elected lawyers from member firms tasked with the responsibility to manage the Network, including its financial management, new membership issues and other issues, which are progressed during the year. The Executive comprises up to seven people who are elected at each Annual General Meeting, comprising a Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Honorary Treasurer. Each member of the Executive serves in the elected office for two years. This allows for new blood to come into the Executive on a regular basis to ensure that the management of Lexlink is refreshed. The Executive meets twice a year in October and March, usually in London.
Lexlink has a website, www.lexlink.org, which has been developed by the IT Sub-Committee of Lexlink. It is intended it should interact with individual firms' websites, which should allow for direct communication by potential clients so that it will not always be the case that it will be an introducing member of Lexlink to such client relationship. The domain name has been registered and is now managed in the UK.
(1) The currency of Lexlink is Euros. (2) Lexlink maintains a Euro account with HSBC Plc. in London. The Mandate requires two signatures on all cheques and instructions to the Bank. (3) The Lexlink financial year is 1st September to 31st August.
The financial obligations of Lexlink are as follows:- (1) A Joining Fee is paid at the commencement of membership and is currently €1,500, payable in two tranches over the first two years of the new member’s membership of Lexlink. There is also an annual membership fee, presently fixed at €1,000. (2) A website surcharge is levied as and when required by the Executive Committee. (3) The Conference Levy Fee is calculated by the host country holding the Conference for each member representative attending the Conference and is paid to the host country directly. The level of this fee will vary depending on the location of the Annual Conference.
Lexlink is administered from an Administration Centre headed by a Secretary General. It is the Secretary General’s responsibility to take minutes of meetings, communicate with the membership and convene, in conjunction with the Chairman, the Executive Meetings. In addition, any matters relating to the Network are brought to the attention of the members of the Executive by him and they deliberate and give their views as and when required. The cost of the administration is paid for out of the Annual Membership Fee. The Executive has taken a cautious approach to overhead expenditure.
The Annual Conference, usually held in October, is an important element for all members and for the development of Lexlink. It usually takes place over three/four days hosted by a Member Firm in their jurisdiction. It comprises an Annual General Meeting where the Executive presents a report, including a financial report on the previous year’s activities. It has an educative element which varies from one jurisdiction to another, usually seminar based. Finally, there is the social integration element, which involves formal and informal meals as well as sightseeing and other free time in order to socialise. Attendance at the Annual General Meeting is considered to be an important element of Membership. It is acknowledged that it has a cost factor but over the years has proved to be invaluable in developing relationships and really discovering what other members in Lexlink specialise in from a professional point of view and how they tick and the make-up of their practice. In the larger member firms attendees rotate from one year to the next.
The membership of Lexlink is proactive and seeks to grow the Membership with like-minded applicants in as many jurisdictions as possible and by so doing increasing the potential for client relationships. New initiatives are considered from time to time which may involve individual member firms coming together to progress a particular area of the law in which they specialise. New members’ ideas and initiatives are always welcomed. More formal administration has now being established to be able to administer a larger membership.
Lexlink was not developed as a moneymaking operation in itself, which is why the cost of membership is not high. Much more value is placed on individual competence of the firms comprising the membership, their enthusiasm and ensuring client satisfaction. Clear indication has been given that the more enthusiasm a member takes in Lexlink the more their individual firm develops progressively and to the advantage of the individual member. Lexlink was not created for short-term gain but to the medium to long-term benefit of other clients and their lawyers.