Julio Veloso (BROSETA): "Be clear about one's own capacities (and limitations) and the priority objective of the actions"
The Impact Lawyers publishes an interview with Julio Veloso, Partner and Head of Internationalisation of BROSETA. 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?
BROSETA's internationalization strategy is based on two basic premises: (i) efficiency and effectiveness in customer service; and (ii) the size of our organisation at any given time. In other words, we prioritise our objective of providing a truly excellent service based on our knowledge of the jurisdictions we serve, taking into account who we are and the size and resources we have at any given time.
Taking the above into consideration, we have defined and adapted our internationalization model, which currently revolves around three axes: our own offices; alliances; and collaborations. Thus, we have our own offices in Switzerland (Zurich, since 2013) and in Portugal (Lisbon, since 2018); for almost a decade we have formed and led an alliance of Ibero-American firms, the Ibero-American Legal Network (RLI), which makes us one of the few Spanish organisations providing legal services with such a relevant and diversified presence (from the Río Bravo to Cape Horn, as well as in the Caribbean); and, thirdly, we have an intense link, in the form of collaborations and also through our own presence (by virtue of regular travel) in various European locations, mainly London and Paris.
Whichever model you have chosen for setting up in a new jurisdiction, what are the biggest challenges you have faced?
The biggest challenge in any internationalization strategy is to be clear about one's own capacities (and limitations) and the priority objective of the actions. The central axis consists of analysing one's own strengths, in order to focus the available resources, and defining the geographies where we can be most useful for our clients (either because of our own knowledge of the jurisdiction in question, our previous experience and relationships there or our ability to generate valuable relationships and collaborations in the short, medium and long term); if we get the above-mentioned issues right, we will be able to provide value to our clients and make them count on us in relation to the matters they may have in those countries. In our case, Europe (with a special focus on Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and France, and with growing activity in Germany) and Latin America are the pillars on which we currently base our international strategy.
For practical purposes, and once the "disembarkation" has been planned, the most important thing is to face the arrival in a new geography with humility, with an absolute willingness to learn continuously and knowing that we have to go hand in hand with those who truly know the market in its entirety, both in the field of business itself, as well as in personal and institutional relations, which are so important for and complementary to the business and the way of doing business in each country.
How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your international growth strategy?
To tell you the truth, we have not felt a particular impact in this regard, apart from obvious issues such as less travel and less attendance at face-to-face meetings in the various jurisdictions. In fact, 2020 has been one of the most intense years in terms of international business activity for us.
In terms of our own offices, in Portugal, for example, we have almost doubled our business volume and headcount over the past year. Thus, we now have 20 lawyers in Lisbon, four of them local partners, a turnover of more than two million euros and future forecasts that make us very excited about this jurisdiction. Switzerland, on the other hand, is an already well-established geography that also last year continued to be essential in one of the key areas for the Firm, the Private Client practice (Wealth Management).
And, within the scope of the Ibero-American Legal Network, during the past year we have notably boosted cooperation between firms at all levels (business and promotion), giving rise in this context to various relevant collaboration projects in jurisdictions such as Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Recently, for example, we have been pre-selected, in collaboration with our Colombian colleagues from ESGUERRA, and with the invaluable help of the RLI's office in the country (NOBOA PEÑA TORRES), to participate in the project for the development of Line 1 of the Quito Metro, a milestone of extraordinary relevance for the entire RLI and, in particular, for BROSETA.
While it would undoubtedly be a magnificent start to 2021 to be selected as the winning consortium in this competition, the mere fact of having qualified as one of the short-listed consortia is in itself a remarkable success, both in light of the excellent firms that make up the short-list and the high-level candidates that have not made it this far.
This survey was conducted through Venize Comunicación between December 2020 and January 2021.