A little while ago I had a Skype consultation with an Italian entrepreneur who had a problem with a German software developer. I asked what the problem had to do with Canada and he said nothing. I asked why he wanted to hire me and he said that he'd done extensive research online and thought that I was the best person for the job.
The potential client had a problem and they wanted someone who knew about contracts, law and software to help them out. They didn't think of their problem as an Italian problem or a Swiss problem.*
I have more bitcoin (a global decentralized currency) than Canadian stocks or foreign currency. I'm writing this blog post from a park (using my phone's Internet) near my office in one of the world's most global cities: Toronto. I have clients who've immigrated to Canada from dozens of countries and they export their software and services to most countries of the world.
My law practice is stored on a laptop with an encrypted hard drive, and my client files are hived off on an AES 256 encrypted disk image that's only open when I'm working. If I lose my computer client files aren't at risk and my online backup (of the encrypted disk image) is always available. There is no room full of filing cabinets. My client's work can safely travel with me (although the majority of my legal work is delivered to clients via the Internet). The clients are sometimes in Toronto, sometimes in Saudi Arabia or China on business.
Two years ago while on my honeymoon in Venice I saw a notification on my phone that a client had paid their bill by sending bitcoin to the appropriate address. I sent them an email from my phone to thank them for the payment.
A few of my clients like to use Google Docs for their contracts. They find that to be the most convenient way for multiple people to review the agreements and provide comments. At the end of that process they can easily copy the agreements, modify them, then download them as PDFs to send to their clients for signing.
The majority of my new clients find me through Google. They read my blog posts or my website, check out the competition, and then get in touch. I have a few lawyer referrals but even more client referrals.
I'm a sole practitioner but I work with many other lawyers and accountants. Some of my clients have several lawyers, who they use for different tasks, as appropriate. Some of those lawyers are in other countries.
One of my clients, Anthony Di Iorio, is a global businessperson who (among many other things) co-founded Ethereum, a distributed decentralized software system used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He's based in Toronto but thinks internationally and knows that the world is a much larger market than Canada.
Most of my software clients think of the United States and the rest of the world as their target market. Ontario is just a good place to base their global business.
I don't go golfing with clients or take them to hockey games. I prefer to spend my time working for them to help build their business.
The Italian entrepreneur I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post probably consulted with a few lawyers from a few countries. There are other people out there like that. I'm sure there are many people in Canada who wouldn't think twice about hiring a skilled lawyer in Italy to help them with their Ontario law problem.
How will Ontario lawyers react when an Indian law firm turns their attention to the Canadian market and starts selling wills for $10? Or contract drafting for $25 per hour? This is already technically possible and one day it will happen.
* Unfortunately for the potential Italian client (and Ontario's GDP), the lawyer regulator in Ontario discourages lawyers from targetting the international market. Lawyers are required to strictly follow their rules and I declined the opportunity.
Note: I've changed the location of the software developer that the Italian entrepreneur was dealing with in order to ensure their anonymity. The countries involved don't affect the point of the anecdote. It could be anywhere.