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March 27, 2009

"Reinventing" the Latin American Law Firm--Part II of II

By Fernando E. Rivadeneyra, Puebla, Mexico

Editor's Note: This is Part II of an article by our friend and colleague Fernando Rivadeneyra, a partner at Rivadeneyra, Treviño & de Campo, a corporate law firm with a global reach based in Puebla, Mexico, located about 100 kilometers southeast of Mexico City. Part I began on March 23 and details specific changes Rivadeneyra and his partners made to their respected Mexican law firm.

Part II: How Do We Implement These Fundamental Changes in Mexico?

Since 2006, our firm has employed two external consultants. One consultant has been instrumental in giving each lawyer--or group of lawyers--in the firm a large hand to play in the growth of one specific law practice area. Our other consultant has developed a concrete career development program and training program, which sets achievable goals for each lawyer's career progression.

Next, in early 2008, our firm hired an experienced marketer in-house to develop a Client Relations Department within our firm. The goal of the new Department is two-fold:

1. To maintain an excellent working relationship with our existing clients and to encourage their loyalty to our firm, and

2. To promote our firm's expertise to a wide audience of potential clients, both in Mexico and abroad.

In order for other Latin America firms to improve their management systems, they must also invest in outside help, make some internal hires, and make adjustments similar to those made by our firm. In addition, firms must be aware of management trends at other leading firms in the international legal community and, when appropriate, emulate and borrow from them.

Problems inherent in transforming an established work culture

The principal obstacle we have encountered has been the lawyers’ natural resistance to change; at times, they are opposed to new elements being added to their job descriptions. However, if other firms in the region plan to reorganize themselves in a similar way, a heightened level of "buy-in" and support will be needed from everyone: senior partners, department leaders, and all lawyers and staff.

The results of re-organization

Latin American law firms are at the beginning of a long-term project in terms of introducing new modes of management; the results won’t always be easy to measure.

Within Rivadeneyra, Treviño & de Campo, we have already realized notable short-term gains, such as a greater cooperation between lawyers and a more relaxed working environment. We have also achieved a broader presence and name recognition--and a far more extensive (and more international) client list.

We have also learned a great deal from observing how other successful firms are organizing themselves, and are open to discussing any of the issues discussed above in more depth with other firms both in, and outside of, Mexico and Latin America.

About the Author: Fernando Rivadeneyra is a Founding Partner at Rivadeneyra, Treviño & de Campo. He specializes in: Mergers & Acquisitions, Private International Law, Corporate Law and Foreign Investments. He is a member of the International Bar Association, the Mexican-American Law Institute, and Export Support Group, and is Vice-President of the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce – Puebla Chapter.

Rivadeneyra has written articles for several publications, and frequently speaks before legal conferences. This article was written in collaboration with Jodie Paula Cohen, who is in charge of Client Relations at Rivadeneyra, Treviño & de Campo. For further information, please contact: frivadeneyra@rtydc.com or jcohen@rtydc.com or visit: www.rtydc.com.

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Posted by JD Hull at March 27, 2009 10:00 PM

Comments

Fernando:
Very nice and interesting article for all of us.
Un saludo.
António

Posted by: António Borges Pires at March 27, 2009 05:29 AM

I was able to identify the Lebanese and Middle Eastern law firms issues and concerns through the Mexican example depicted in this very interesting and pragmatic article. Congrats Fernando on your impact in modernizing the law practice in Mexico.
Ramy

Posted by: Ramy Torbey at March 30, 2009 04:50 AM

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