When clients need legal help in other states or countries, the Legal Netlink Alliance steps in.
Clark Opdahl’s early career was in advertising. With a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota, he spent his early years after graduation working with his dad in an advertising business whose clients included National Car Rental and 3M.
But the lure of law drove Opdahl, 57, to William Mitchell College of Law where he studied at night while working for D.A. Opdahl & Associates during the day.
Today, Opdahl is managing director of the Minneapolis law firm Henson & Efron, where he oversees a law office of 55, including 34 attorneys.
Henson & Efron recently hosted a conference of 60 U.S. and international attorneys representing the Legal Netlink Alliance, an international cooperative of law firms in more than 40 countries that share legal services and clients.
Opdahl sat down last week with the Star Tribune and talked about the work of the organization.
Q: How did Henson & Efron get involved with the Legal Netlink Alliance?
A: In 1995, we were invited to join based upon a recommendation of a client who was a Netherlands-based attorney. We looked the organization over and I went to Chicago for a meeting of the group, and we joined and have been a member ever since. The organization was started by six or seven law firms in the Midwest who found it was a challenge to sometimes find good qualified attorneys in other jurisdictions. It started in the U.S. and a companion group started in Europe and the two merged about 10 years ago.
Q: What is the appeal of such an alliance?
A: The primary appeal is that we can identify firms in other jurisdictions that will take care of matters and treat our clients well. We also get some referral work but the driving force is having good quality firms that can help out clients. Our reputation is judged by the people we bring in to work on matters for our clients.
Q: How often do you refer cases out?
A: Maybe two to five times a year, and we also can call on other firms just for their expertise on a subject. We recently contacted an Iowa firm on a foreclosure issue in that state when we were trying to negotiate a workout procedure.
Q: Can you talk about the kinds of cases you’ve referred to other firms?
A: In the past year we had a client who wanted to hire a sales rep out of the United Kingdom with a contract covered by U.K. law. We reached out to a U.K. firm and got good advice on how to deal with a noncompete clause and other provisions. In another case, we contacted an Australian firm on behalf of a client to understand the cost of setting up an employee in Australia. We also referred a product liability matter to a firm in Montreal for a commercial dispute in Canada on behalf of a client.