Grabbing Pacific Rim business headed to California and Mexico from Asia was the principal reason for Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, a 200-lawyer firm based in Los Angeles, forming a 10-member International Business Development Committee last year. Its members include Vilaplana and Mathew K. Fong, 35, son of California Secretary of State March Fong Eu.
Formed Advisory Council
So far, the panel has made four trips to Asia to drum up business, mainly in talks with banks. "We found a long time ago that (Japanese) manufacturers are closely allied with banking institutions," said Vilaplana, 42. The group's efforts have garnered few major clients thus far, but Vilaplana said he expects the marketing effort to be a "long, slow courting process."
A marketing thrust of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, one of San Diego's oldest and largest firms, was to help form the Pacific Rim Advisory Council in 1987, a network of firms representing 1,850 lawyers in 29 cities around the Pacific, the United States and Canada. Luce Forward's John Brooks is chairman of the council, which is a kind of cross-referral association.
Except for Touche Ross, which owns and operates its Tijuana office, most Big Eight accounting firms in Tijuana have formed affiliations with large Mexican firms.