Train to gain
Portuguese law firm GPA is growing rapidly with managing partner Sofia Gouveia Pereira attributing its success, in part, to a willingness to invest in training
Lisbon-based law firm Gouveia Pereira, Costa Freitas & Associados (GPA) is in expansion mode. The firm has 15 more lawyers than it did one year ago, and the firm is anticipating that revenue will grow from €5 million to €6 million this year, an increase of 20 per cent. The firm has traditionally focussed on corporate, M&A, banking, employment and compliance work, but now it is branching out into new areas such as public law, litigation and arbitration, real estate and insurance. However, another key factor in the firm’s rapid expansion, according to managing partner Sofia Gouveia Pereira, has been its ability to adapt to the changing dynamics of the economy. “More than 15 per cent of our growth comes from new areas, such as TMT [technology, media and telecommunications], data protection, fintech and compliance,” she says. “We have made a huge investment in training and staff – and will continue to do so – to be able to respond to a changing economy and a changing legal environment.”
More traditional areas of practice at the firm have also been key drivers of growth at the firm in recent years. Banking work has grown substantially, while there has also been an increase in instructions in the areas of insurance and real estate. “In the last few years, our banking practice has seen significant growth, our insurance practice has doubled in terms of size and revenue, while our real estate practice has been greatly enhanced by the creation of our tax practice,” says Gouveia Pereira. In particular, the firm has received a significant amount of instructions as a result of the need of financial and insurance sector clients to adapt to a raft of new regulations. “This includes legal assistance provided to some of the major Portuguese banks concerning due diligence and the drafting of internal policies and procedures, as well as advising on the restructuring of finance and insurance companies, in addition to handling major litigation proceedings,” says Gouveia Pereira.
Following the recruitment drive that took place in the last year, GPA now has 93 lawyers, of which eight are partners. In mid-July, it announced that its revenue for 2018 was €5 million, which means that revenue per partner at the firm stands at €625,000, while revenue per lawyer totals approximately €55,000. While the firm is growing, Gouveia Pereira stresses that any growth has to be sustainable. She says: “Sustainability is embedded in our mission, and that is environmental and human sustainability. We don’t believe in a good client service without motivated professionals who have a good work/life balance – we try to help each other and to be aware about each other, and we don´t believe in growth that is not sustainable.”
GPA as a firm is a strong believer in the importance of providing training to staff even if the rewards are not seen in the short term. Gouveia Pereira highlights increased investment in training as one of the major developments at the firm in the last year. “Sometimes we need to go a step back to go a step further,” she says. “It is difficult to take people ‘off the job’ to invest in training – it does not generate immediate results and everything around us is extremely results-sensitive and results-driven.” Gouveia Pereira continues: “We obviously have no problem with this, but it becomes a problem when we just look at the short term – we believe in sustainable growth, and for that we need to invest and to be patient.”