When I saw today that the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft had launched a new International Practice mini site, I was hopeful that it would be a truly useful resource and not some mere marketing site. After all, in its own announcement, the firm described itself as “one of the world’s most prominent law firms.” From a firm of such stature, I expect to see a site that is not only useful, but also highly polished and refined.

But when I arrived at the site, the editor in me had trouble seeing the forest for the trees. In this case, the trees obstructing my view were poorly written, grammatically incorrect and run-on sentences that made me ask, “Didn’t anyone proofread this stuff before unveiling it to the world?”

I rarely pick on any site or blog for the quality of its writing. But when a major firm makes a major announcement of a new Web initiative, I expect more.

The very first paragraph on the new site’s main page is a clumsily constructed, run-on sentence that improperly uses the phrase “as well as”:

Litigations, arbitrations, investigations as well as regulatory compliance, and enforcement now routinely involve multiple jurisdictions or affect property, business practices, laws, venues, or procedures of different countries.

The second paragraph on the new site’s front page is no better:

International controversies present participants with unique challenges — and unique opportunities. Participants in international disputes will either benefit from the strategic use of these unique tools and principles when they employ them — or they will suffer from their adversary’s adroit use of them when they do not.

What “unique tools and strategies” is it talking about?

Then there is the introductory paragraph of the new site’s e-book, which reads like a clause in a commercial document written by a committee of lawyers:

We are pleased to share this discussion and analysis of timely topics and trends under the general rubric of international practice – that is, controversies or disputes constituting or arising out of litigations, arbitrations, and regulatory enforcement and investigations of companies, laws, or regulations affecting more than one international sovereign power.

And I have yet to mention the site’s trademarked tagline, “The World’s Gone Global!” Huh? If that’s a tagline, I’m rushing down to the USPTO to grab, “The Sun’s Gone Yellow!”

Now the Good News

OK, got that off my chest. Apart from its need for a good editor, the site shows promise.

The site’s domain name, internationalpractice.org, is intended to suggest its focus. It is not a site about international law, in the classic law school sense. Rather, the site’s focus is on international business disputes and the various ways in which they are resolved — litigation, arbitration and regulatory action.

The site addresses this topic through two main features:

  • An e-book, International Practice: Topics and Trends, an ambitious project that covers topics ranging from choice of law to post-adjudication enforcement.
  • A blog, OneWorld, focused on judicial and regulatory actions and news relating to international litigation and dispute resolution.

Despite my editorial rant at the outset, I suspect this is a site worth checking out. Yes, the world’s gone global, and so has the world of business. Even small businesses these days are routinely involved in cross-border commerce — and where there’s commerce, there will be disputes. And where there are disputes, there are lawyers, as Cadwalader clearly understands.

  • Louis M. Solomon

    Thank you for your reaction to the site. I’m duly chastised! I could quibble with some of your grammatical preferences, but the misplaced word ‘investigations’ right in the first sentence was obviously wrong, and you were right to point it out. I also see that cyberspace didn’t really pick up the placement of my tongue firmly in my cheek with “The World’s Gone Global!”, though I hope, over time, you’ll come to crack a tiny smile at the double entendre.

    We do hope that the content of the ebook and blog will prove helpful to practitioners in the area that you (more succinctly than I did) describe, not as international law in the “classic law school sense” (maybe I would have put a comma after ‘classic’, since you are using it as an adjective to modify ‘sense’ and not ‘law school’ — no matter), but as “international business disputes”. I’ve spent decades litigating such cases, and Cadwalader has a practice group dedicated to litigating them. The challenges and opportunities they present are in often different from those present in other types of litigation. I believe that a separate, focused treatment of them will be valuable to practitioners and clients alike.

    Thanks again.

    • Now I’m the one who’s duly chastised! Those trees I focused on were small ones relative to the forest you’ve created here. And I was blind to your double entendre — not because I didn’t see it, but because I didn’t expect it on a large-firm site, given that most such sites are so deadly serious.

      Even worse, I am guilty of hypocrisy. I have urged large firms that launch blogs and other “new media” initiatives not to let their marketing departments stand between the lawyers and the readers. The lawyers who write the blog should directly engage with the readers and let their personalities show through, I’ve said.

      Here you did exactly that and I jumped on it for all the wrong reasons. This is a commendable effort on your part. I shouldn’t have let my crankiness obscure what you’ve given root to.

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