Luis Pais Antunes, the newly appointed Managing Partner of PLMJ, one of the leading portuguese law firms shares his views on the protuguese legal market and the law firm's strategy.
Leaders League. You have recently been appointed managing partner of PLMJ. What are your objectives in this new role?
Luis Pais Antunes. Being PLMJ Managing Partner is a great challenge, in particular at a moment where the market for legal services shows a significant upturn and competition as even more dynamic. We need to keep pace with the economic recovery and continue to reinforce an increasingly international team which covers all areas of legal practice. International markets will remain an important strategic focus for PLMJ, without losing our focus on the Portuguese market, where we stay committed to boost our leading position. The new board wants to continue the work carried out in securing PLMJ’s standing as a leader in the Portuguese-speaking legal profession. Our aim is to invest in creating a model of provision of services with greater efficiency and benefits to our Clients, regardless of the markets where they operate. We have room to improve our modus operandi by taking advantage of the increasing synergies between our areas of practice and local offices, thereby improving readiness and quality in the most cost-effective way. We will also remain focused on reinforcing our operations in Africa, in particular in Angola and Mozambique, but will not close the door to other international markets where we will continue to adopt a step-bystep approach.
Leaders League. How would you describe your firm's culture and strategy?
L. P. A. PLMJ has a solid background. Our founding partners were – and are – exceptional lawyers, who also gave us the ambition and the tools to be the best. This is how we have managed to build a strong firm and retained most of our talented lawyers, while taking all the good opportunities to open our doors to successful lateral hiring. This is – and will remain – our DNA.
Our strategy is clear: we want to consolidate PLMJ as a full-service, independent law firm with a strong international presence, in particular in the Portuguese-speaking countries, securing at the same time our leading position in the Portuguese market. We were the first Portuguese law firm with a clear internalization policy, simultaneously present broad and having three offices in Portugal and partnerships with a number of others. We differentiate by offering local advice through local firms with a local approach and deep knowledge of the market, while providing the same level of service in the best economic conditions for the client. This requires a lot of work and commitment. We have always made it our mission to have the best people, the best practices, to invest in the best technologies, to get the best students and to innovate in all fields. Our goal is to be always one step ahead in the Portuguese market.
Leaders League. How is your firm organized to better serve international clients?
L. P. A. PLMJ has focused principally on Portuguese-speaking countries, as well as in countries of significant interest to Portuguese companies, or to the Portuguese market. We approached top-tier independent firms in those countries. Moreover, PLMJ sets itself apart by offering local advice, through local firms, with a local approach and a deeper knowledge of the market. We can offer the same level of service as global firms and we can probably offer it with more advantageous conditions for the client.
Leaders League. What are the key trends of the Portuguese legal market?
L. P. A. PLMJ had a very strong first quarter across all areas of the law. The continuing transition from an economy in crisis to a growth economy, although still awaiting consolidation, was clearly felt. A particular highlight has been the very significant growth in the real estate and public law practices, both of which have handled a number of very significant operations. We have also seen a growth in activity in the north of the country and in the Algarve and this has been reflected by an increase in work at our Oporto and Faro offices. Let’s not forget to highlight other areas such as tax, litigation and criminal – particularly white-collar crime and domestic and international compliance, M&A and private equity, banking and finance, and capital markets, where there are clear signs that growth will continue.