Carmen Bascarán (ONTIER): "Firm with a unique business model and a purely entrepreneurial management"
The Impact Lawyers publishes an interview with Carmen Bascarán, Managing Director at ONTIER. This interview and others can be found in the Survey on the internationalisation of law firms
What is the strategy you have followed when opening offices abroad? Why?
ONTIER is an international and multidisciplinary law firm with a special focus on high value-added transactional advice and highly complex commercial and commercial litigation and arbitration. Our holding company is based in London and has offices in thirteen countries, 9 of them in Latin America, making us the international firm with the largest presence in Latin America and the ideal legal partner for any company with interests in the region.
We are an international firm with a unique business model and a purely entrepreneurial management, based on taking a real stake in the law firms in the different countries. A model that allows the firm to take advantage of the expertise and know-how of local lawyers and to put teams of truly global professionals at the service of our clients.
Our internationalization strategy aims to make us the global firm of reference for companies working in or wishing to enter the Latin American market.
Whichever model you have chosen to establish yourself in a new jurisdiction, what are the biggest challenges you have faced?
First of all, by creating a new internationalization model that had not been tried before in the legal sector, we took the risk that comes with innovation by trying to change the classic ways of growth in a sector as traditional as ours. For us, it was especially important to achieve a single brand, a single corporate image because of what it represented for each prestigious law firm in each jurisdiction where we wanted to operate.
ONTIER meant abandoning personal brands and believing in a project for a global firm organised as a real company, something we had very much in mind from the beginning of this adventure of expansion and growth of the firm. Resistance to change and the necessary period of adaptation so that all the countries could move at the same pace and with the same quality of service has been one of the challenges we have had to face. Something that has always concerned us, especially in transnational operations, is that the client has a single interlocutor and perceives the same style of doing things. To achieve these changes, it is necessary to work intensively with all the legal teams in the different countries, taking into account the different local cultures, languages and even time zones.
Changes that involve profound transformations in business models are the most difficult. Today, we can say that ONTIER is a consolidated brand on the international scene and a firm where the teams are always multi-country.
How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your international growth strategy?
We could say that it has affected the speed and priorities, but the strategy has not changed. ONTIER has a defined international strategy in which all the firm's international partners participate and which we adapt year after year to the increasingly changing, uncertain and ambiguous environment in which we live. COVID-19 has made us relate to each other in a different way; it has limited our travels, which have been replaced by virtual communications. More than ever in these months we have been able to feel the pride of belonging and the need to support each other regardless of nationality. This crisis has demonstrated the resilience of our business model, as in 2020 we have been able to consolidate the firm's trajectory and results.
In any case, and regardless of the pandemic, what is certain is that we have had a few years of intense investment with the incorporation of various countries to the project. We are now in a new stage in which the different offices are already enjoying significant solidity and in which it is time to "grow inwards", consolidate structures, ways of working, multidisciplinary and multicultural teams.
This survey was conducted through Venize Comunicación between December 2020 and January 2021.