The need for a singular client approach

The current economic crisis is seeing
much more focus placed by clients on
cost and efficiency issues, with an
evident desire also by many for their law
firm advisers to choose sides, believes
Dulce Franco, partner with AAA
Advogados in Lisbon.

“The challenge for law firms is to
demonstrate their commitment to their
clients as much in the hard times as in
the boom years. Firms have to be as
business-focused and if there is less
business activity they have also to accept
that they will inevitably suffer alongside
them too.”

Companies are clearly feeling the
impact of the recession with many
undergoing restructurings and divesting
themselves of non-core businesses in an
effort to reposition themselves and to
emerge stronger after the crisis. But there
is also an evident greater emphasis on
firms’ ability to offer the most strategic
advice and it being delivered by senior
lawyers, says Dulce Franco.

“There are always fee pressures but
firms can demonstrate their willingness
to reduce their own costs by educating
Dulce Franco
themselves about their clients’ business.

This not only helps reduce the time it
takes to understand issues but also
ensures that the guidance offered is
actually suited to the client’s own

Las empresas en estos
momentos se están
centrando en la efectividad
del servicio jurí­dico, en el
coste y en la confianza
hacia sus abogados. Esto
obliga a los despachos a
ubicarse solo a un lado de
las operaciones, dice
Dulce Franco, de AAA

An ever-present issue for many
companies, and indeed increasingly so, is
conflicts of interest, she believes.

Businesses do not want to see the same
law firm acting for another party in a
transaction, even if indirectly – no matter
how big the firm is or how insistent they
are in the strength of their “Chinese

AAA has a policy of representing on a
regular basis only one major client in
each of the firm’s major business sectors,
Dulce Franco explains.

“Firms have to share core values with
the clients and consider themselves as
working in partnership with the in-house
legal team to offer a common shared
legal platform,” she says. “You have
always to be flexible enough to be able to
adapt the way you work to suit the
client’s specific needs, but equally you
have to be inflexible in your principles.”