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The difference that makes a difference

After a highly successful inaugural roundtable back in November, all parties (co-hosts The Legal 500 and Pellerano & Herrera, as well as the attendant GCs and legal officers), were keen to build on the momentum of that first event. And so in late March we found ourselves sat around the table once more, this time at the recently opened Hotel Real Intercontinental – this time with the novelty of beginning to feel like old friends. The experience of the assembled GC’s in-house ranged from 4-or-5 to 30-odd years, guaranteeing a breadth of perspective and vision. Once again we were favoured by a particularly strong turnout from the financial sector (Banco BHD-León, Citibank and Banco Dominicana del Progreso to name just three), as well as from an array of other sectors including the steel industry (Gerdau/Metaldom), up- and down-stream energy (AES Dominicana/Tropigas), mining (Corporación Minera), hospitality, (Hoteles Barceló), health and insurance (ARS Humano), the automotive sector (Magna Motors), telecoms (Viva Trilogy) and retail (Grupo Ramos/Plaza Lama), among others.

Discussion centred on the idea of the difference that makes a difference: ie, how, the in-house function, which is always time- and resource-poor, can best ensure its own effectiveness and efficiency. We sought to examine the key habits of effective corporate counsel and measures by which to increase legal department productivity. One subject that elicited strong opinion concerned the willingness to take risks, where –while most present considered themselves highly risk-averse– a certain consensus emerged regarding the necessity to do so on occasion, particularly when seeking to gain market share and/or maintain ones position in a highly competitive market. Another was what could be termed targeted productivity – that is, ensuring that one is doing the right things (above and beyond doing things well). As the CEB once defined it: increase throughput not output; or in laymen’s terms: focus on those processes and activities that will have a direct and immediate effect on productivity.

Discussion was such that the last of our intended topics – the management of relations with external counsel – was timed-out; we will have to return to it later in the year. Nevertheless, what was notable, once again, was the interest in developing a cross-industry GC community where problems can be raised and responses and strategies shared. Moreover, the clear desire to further develop best practice, not just for the good of individual businesses but as part of a broader commitment to social responsibility and the promotion of legal norms and values in the Dominican Republic was palpable.

In addition to thanking all those who participated, The Legal 500 would also like to note our gratitude to sponsors Pellerano & Herrera for all their efforts to ensure the event was a resounding success.