Wednesday, 05 February 2020 15:48

Savvy Aproach

Mafalda Marcarenhas Garcia joined IBM Portugal seven years ago, exactly January of 2013. Today, she leads the Legal Department of the Portuguese head office of this NorthAmerican technology multinational

Mafalda works as IBM Lead Counsel - EU Cloud Code of Conduct, Legal Manager of IBM Portugal Legal Department, Lead Counsel for European related Privacy matters at The Weather Company Mafalda Marcarenhas Garcia joined IBM Portugal seven years ago, exactly January of 2013. Today, she leads the Legal Department of the Portuguese head office of this NorthAmerican technology multinational. Mafalda works as IBM Lead Counsel - EU Cloud Code of Conduct, Legal Manager of IBM Portugal Legal Department, Lead Counsel for European related Privacy matters at The Weather Company and she is not going anywhere.

At a time when IBM is going through a significant business transformation, under this age of digital revolution, and is creating new business models and new business opportunities, Mafalda says that “in the company, we are always out of our comfort zone. Everything else is constantly changing. We have been moving from the traditional legal role, of expert technicians, to more strategic advisors. We also have to deliver more value to the business and in less time”. With a changing scenario comes opportunity and for Mafalda this is no different. “The challenge for us, as in-house lawyers, is to keep up with such digital transformation and embrace technology. We have to be constantly educating ourselves and learning while advising businesses”.

Nowadays, Mafalda’s work is being multiplied to comply with the intensifying regulatory environment. “This is increasing pressure on us, as in-house lawyers. Our role is being amplified, as advisers to the business and as gatekeepers, to prevent regulatory, compliance, ethics or integrity breaches from occurring. The massive amount of information proliferating in the world is also having an enormous impact on our day-to-day work. That is why we are equipping ourselves with technology tools that are making us more agile and are increasing the quality and accuracy of our feedback.”

TEAM LEADER

What does that mean? Mafalda has no doubt. “I work closely with internal clients and with the business lines. That requires being savvy with IBM business, with IBM culture and internal processes, while providing accurate and sharp legal advice in all legal areas, including corporate, data privacy, finance, intellectual property, litigation or procurements. I often negotiate contracts with IBM’s clients. As a Legal member of The Weather Company, I support all European Data Privacy issues”.

So, being savvy, which is saying, thinking outside the standards, is something that she is now used to. But always with a team she can count on and with that same approach.

“In IBM Portugal, the Legal team is expected to be courageous in IT matters, stay up to date with the progresss of our industry, and be familiar with IBM culture and processes. At the same time, we are expected to be capable of answering questions in legal areas as diverse as corporate, data privacy, labor, finance, insurance, litigation, public procurement or real estate. The members of the Legal team are organized mainly by the client. By deeply understanding IBM clients’ businesses, we are more dedicated to IBM’s clients, as well as IBM’s success”.

As an in-house lawyer, Mafalda works with different legal teams. “In my role supporting IBM Portugal, I work with a mixture of experienced and junior qualified lawyers, as well as a non-qualified paralegal. IBM Portugal Legal team is part of a bigger legal team in the SPGI (Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Israel) market”.
As a rule, junior lawyers in Europe start their careers in the Legal Resource Centre in Dublin, Ireland (the Dublin LRC). During the first two years in the Dublin LRC, IBM invests significantly in their training and education as well as in growing their professional experience because they provide legal support to their respective countries. So, in addition to the team located in Portugal, they also have the support of young lawyers from the Dublin LRC.

OUTSOURCING “IS NOT A THING”

When Mafalda’s team outsources external lawyers, something they don’t do often, they expect accuracy and honesty. They mainly do it for some litigation matters and some specific labour law.

But outsourcing is not a frequent practice in IBM and she explains why. “We have a very strong legal team, with experts in almost all legal matters. For instance, we have general legal, data privacy, intellectual property, competition, and M&A teams. Besides, we also have deep knowledge of the IBM business industry and we are close to the decision center. IBM executives demand simple, clear and sharp advice, which usually requires extensive background investigation and analysis from the Legal teams. Ideally, executives require “twitter” size risk assessments, together with the solution or the possible alternatives for the problem”. However, when choosing a firm, they have to take some things into consideration, as “the high level of expertise and experience of the outside counsel in the required subject matter. We also value the reputation, the ethics and the integrity of the Law Firm and the lawyers involved.” That being said, in-house lawyers end up being “more equipped to advise companies in matters related to the development of their activities”.

MAFALDA MARCARENHAS GARCIA CV

Mafalda has more than 20 years of PQE and has been working in IBM for over 7 years. She is a Portuguese qualified lawyer, a Portuguese native speaker and proficient in English and Spanish. Following her master's degree in Corporate and Commercial Law from University College London, UK, she worked in the Banking Department of Linklaters, in London. She participated in debt financing and refinancing transactions. In 2001 joined Cuatrecasas, in Lisbon, Portugal, advising on finance transactions, refinancing and debt issues. In 2004 she joined the law firm’s Corporate Department and became an expert in corporate and commercial law, private equity and M&A. From 2007 onwards, she worked closely with the Mozambique Market and, in 2010, was also invited to serve as a key senior management team member to launch the law firm’s Angolan Desk in Luanda.

As an in-house lawyer, Mafalda works with different legal teams. “In my role supporting IBM Portugal, I work with a mixture of experienced and junior qualified lawyers, as well as a non-qualified paralegal. IBM Portugal Legal team is part of a bigger legal team in the SPGI (Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Israel) market”. As a rule, junior lawyers in Europe start their careers in the Legal Resource Centre in Dublin, Ireland (the Dublin LRC). During the first two years in the Dublin LRC, IBM invests significantly in their training and education as well as in growing their professional experience because they provide legal support to their respective countries. So, in addition to the team located in Portugal, they also have the support of young lawyers from the Dublin LRC.

To read the article in full please download issue N.91 here

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N.93 • April 2020

 
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