Geographies of globalization: United States law firms in world cities

JV Beaverstock*, RG Smith, PJ Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The empirical core of this paper is a geographical analysis of U.S, law firms' foreign offices in 1997. This "geography of globalization" is introduced through a theoretical discussion of "geography in globalization" where Storper's "economic reflexivity" is related to Sassen's "geographical centrality," to provide a conceptual framework combining territorialism with network. Three "globalization arenas" are identified (Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Pacific Asia), wherein eight cities house the majority of the foreign offices of U.S. law firms. This uneven globalization is explored through a classification of U.S. firm's geographical schemes, and a potential category of global law firms is identified. Three of the latter are examined in detail and their claims to be global firms assessed. Here, the concept of the homeless firm seems to be particularly relevant. We conclude, by re-evaluating our basic concepts to consider how our empirical findings inform some current debates on the nature of globalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-120
Number of pages26
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • globalization
  • world cities
  • law
  • producer services
  • CITY


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