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Thursday, 22 November 2018 10:58

High quality project management can strengthen client relationships and reduce risk in international transactions

Project management can often involve ‘firefighting’ and cost cutting, and this can prevent legal teams from implementing necessary changes during the execution of a project

latamdec18 p11 photo1Effective legal project management can strengthen law firm-client relationships and help mitigate risks, particularly in relation to cross-jurisdictional deals, attendees heard at an event stages in Miami by The Latin American Lawyer.

Such risks can relate to internal issues, such as whether the company being acquired is regulated or not, or they could concern whether or not approval for the transaction will be necessary. In addition, the risks may relate to whether any legal clauses, such as labour laws, will affect the company – evaluation of such risks can avoid the buyer losing key staff, post-transaction, participants were told.

‘Think global, act local’
Attendees at the event – which was organised in collaboration with Eversheds Sutherland Nicea – heard that it is important that general counsel take both a micro and a macro approach to deals in order to evaluate risks both at a local “on-the-ground” level, and at a global level when a transaction is cross-border. One of the event’s key conclusions was that general counsel need to “think global and act local”.
Legal project management involves defining projects, as well as planning, budgeting, executing, and evaluating legal matters – but despite its benefits, it typically involves ‘firefighting’ and cost cutting, and this often prevents legal teams from implementing necessary changes during the execution of a project, panellists heard.

Establishing order
Project management enables general counsel to establish order in what could potentially be chaotic situations, especially when coordinating legal work across multiple jurisdictions. One of the aims of project management is to use all legal management data to make informed decisions.
Data protection and compliance are important issues that need to be taken into account during an M&A transaction. Such issues amount to an latamdec18 p11 photo2“internal risk” as it needs to be established that the company being acquired is sufficiently transparent. However, there are also important external risks that need to be evaluated such as how any potential acquisition could impact on the company’s clients.

Reasons for failure
Another important factor that needs to be taken into account is the timeframe for completion of the transaction – many M&A deals fail because they are not completed within a specific timeframe, attendees heard. Meanwhile, the risks change as a project develops, and such an environment requires a high level of organisation among the external law firms involved as well as the in-house teams.

Understanding the priorities when involved in a deal is crucial to ensure transactions are successful. It is important to be aware of what is important to the company’s shareholders and management, as well as what is important ‘on the ground’ in the different jurisdictions, panellists agreed.

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