Nature of law firms change amid rivalry: Baker & McKenzie chair

Nature of law firms change amid rivalry: Baker & McKenzie chair

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Nature of law firms change amid rivalry: Baker & McKenzie chair

Baker & McKenzie has developed a ‘global director of pricing’ position where experts from other professions ensure clients analyze the cost of their products, says the chairman of the company. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Large law firms across the world are no longer employing only lawyers as high-ranking staff as the growing competition and wider range of client expectations cause customs to diversify, according to Eduardo Leite, the chairman of Baker & McKenzie, the largest law firm in the world in terms of revenues.

“Clients want to pay less,” Leite told the Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of the U.S.-based company’s annual regional meeting in Istanbul last week. “That encourages us to be more creative when it comes to pricing.”

The company has developed a “global director of pricing” position to cope with this demand. “People with expertise from other professions, not lawyers, analyze the cost of our productions and what the reasonable prices are,” Leite said.

A second shift in the sector, which is related to the initial one, is project management. “We, as lawyers, tend to believe that we are hired to defend the client, and we would do whatever it takes to defend the client and give the client a good result,” he said. “But we are not trained like engineers to manage a project.”

Global competitors were also choosing similar stances, but the real motivation to employ various professionals came from the clients, he said.

Baker & McKenzie is among the founders of the World Economic Forum in Davos and Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, is a former chief executive of the company.

The company holds three meetings for its three regions every year and picked Istanbul, where it started operating 18 months ago, for this year’s Europe, Middle East and Africa region meeting. This is where some 40 percent of the revenues of the company come from.

Interest in Turkey

Some 800 people, mostly company executives and partners from the region, gathered during the week-long company meeting in Istanbul. The meetings were also attended by 100 people from 40 clients. “They were from all over the world, because they have plans for expanding in the region,” Leite said. “Turkey has its own attraction even if it does not turn into a financial hub,” Daniel Matthews, managing partner of the Istanbul office, said. “There is so much going on with the economy, the infrastructure, the car plants, the bridges, the airport, all kinds of additional projects in the energy sector, the nuclear plant projects.”

“All these things make Turkey extremely effective, and law firms from across the world see that.”