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Merit Lind, Managing Partner

Merit Lind, Managing Partner at Law Firm Deloitte Legal, discusses how the firm is adapting to clients' changing needs.

1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate Deloitte Legal from your competitors?

What differentiates us from our competitors is the ability to deliver value to our clients through: being a member of the Deloitte Legal global network with over 1,600 legal professionals in more than 70 countries; multidisciplinary advice incorporating Deloitte’s tax, assurance, consulting and corporate finance knowledge; and in-depth professional specialisation by practice area and industry.

As a full-service law firm offering legal advice in all fields of national and international business law, we often cooperate with other Deloitte Legal network firms, especially when helping either local or international clients address complex, cross-border issues.

In Deloitte Legal we consider legal matters not as isolated issues, but rather as components of a wider, comprehensive business strategy. Therefore, we strongly believe that besides highly competent legal advice, a much broader business-perspective is the key to ensuring our clients’ success.

Our clients strongly benefit from involving other Deloitte professionals - tax specialists, financial consultants, accountants - in their projects. By leveraging Deloitte specialists’ thorough understanding of business sectors, industries and markets, we help clients make smart, sharp and well-informed decisions that take into account the interplay between legal and business issues. Such involvement is crucial in complex transactions, but also useful in everyday business counselling. The interdisciplinary cooperation we provide is a unique competitive advantage that traditional regional law firms cannot duplicate.

In order to provide top-tier legal advice, our lawyers work in a matrix structure of specialization by practice area (corporate and M&A, banking and finance, IT and IP, employment, tax) as well as by industry (banking and securities, energy and resources, consumer business, technology/media/telecommunications and real estate). Such an approach enables us to give multidisciplinary advice designed to anticipate industry or sector-specific trends and developments, preparing our clients for the challenges that an ever-changing regulatory and economic environment can present.

2) Which practices in your member firm do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

In the next 12 months we expect to have the largest growth in Corporate and M&A, which is one of our main practice areas. This is based on general macroeconomic indicators, the local economic situation in Estonia, as well as the number of pre-purchase analyses that are being worked on at the moment.

We also anticipate stable growth in general commercial and tax practices, as the number of international and local clients who buy every-day consulting services from Deloitte Legal is growing steadily.

In addition to the above, the start-up sector is currently developing very fast in Estonia, and our clients include more and more representatives of the so-called 'new businesses' – we advise new FinTech businesses, including companies providing crowdfunding platforms. In fact, I am also the head of the Finance Estonia’s crowdfunding group preparing the Best Practice for the crowdfunding industry to foster market growth in the field of alternative finance.

3) What is the main change you have made in your firm that will benefit clients?

In order to provide top-quality pan-Baltic legal services to our clients, we have recently developed cooperation between the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian law firms of Deloitte.

A significant number of our clients have business in all three Baltic states and the investors often view them as a single region, which in turn means that their transactions involve several of these states.

We have created pan-Baltic working groups that enable more efficient cooperation, project management and exchange of information, which results in effective execution of common projects. This provides clients high-quality legal, and if necessary, interdisciplinary service in their pan-Baltic projects.

4) How is technology changing the way you interact with your clients and the services you can provide them?

Digital natives are used to obtaining information online – increasingly in our field of business. Apart from the substantial amount of information already presented on our website, we are now moving towards an interactive presentation of information on legal topics to our client and followers.

In addition, we keep our clients posted about significant subjects and law amendments via social media (which is the fastest means of communication today) and Dbriefs (live webcasts that give our clients valuable insights on important developments affecting their business and which our clients can follow using their preferred means of digital access).

Innovative technology is also used in our office for providing legal services on a daily basis. The databases for document and knowledge management that we have introduced enable us to provide services to our clients in a faster and more efficient manner, which also cuts down on the costs to the client.

5) Can you give us a practical example of how you helped a client add value to their business?

On the basis of feedback that we have received from our clients, what they value most is the opportunity to receive both legal and business consultancy services from one provider.

We have often observed that the more complicated transactions or business disputes as well as everyday consulting invariably involve both legal as well as financial issues. In these situations our specialists have been able to either offer tailored solutions for demanding projects or reduce the cost of some routine legal activities due to achieved synergies.

For example, we worked with one of the leading global transport sector operators to enter into the Estonian public transport market, which has always been regarded as a non-liberalized, closed market with state-protected national incumbent operators. Working as a close-knit team of legal, tax and financial specialists we managed to disrupt the market in a positive way.

6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three year's time?

Clients are looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms and as part of the Deloitte Legal network we can work with our clients to advise them on their complex legal needs.

Deloitte Legal is already widely recognized by local as well as international clients as a progressive new generation law office providing top-notch professional legal and, if necessary, financial guidance around strategic business decisions. We are particularly passionate about disrupting the markets by assisting new market entrants with novel business models. In the next three years, by increasing our headcount and developing our practice areas, we hope to strengthen this position further.

We surely expect to make an impact that matters in the Estonian and the Baltic legal market.

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