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Hugo T Berkemeyer, Managing partner of Berkemeyer Attorneys and Counselors

Hugo T Berkemeyer explains the client benefits provided by Berkemeyer Attorneys and Counselors and what its future holds

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Berkemeyer from your competitors?

One of our distinctive features is that we are the largest full-service in Paraguay, with a headcount of over 40 lawyers with wide-ranging and in-depth expertise in a variety practice areas and industries. We have developed the ability to anticipate market needs and invest in our team accordingly. Our leadership brings vision to the firm so we can help our clients make the most of business opportunities in Paraguay. A recent example is our investment in infrastructure and project finance experts.

In an emerging market such as a Paraguay, it is also important to note that we are a fully institutionalised firm that seeks to nurture and advance the career prospects of its lawyers. We prize team work and aim to promote the highest standards in our service. The firm was founded 65 years ago and our goal is to merge the core values of founder Hugo Berkemeyer with ever evolving client-driven solutions and a global vision.

Our competitive edge also comes from the dedication of our lawyers, continued international exposure and strategic lateral growth. These qualities have proved invaluable to clients entering the Paraguayan market or developing projects that need to conform both local and international standards in all aspects of law.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

The main areas we see growing are infrastructure, project finance and antitrust. In infrastructure, there is a pipeline of more than 10 infrastructure projects under new laws. We have been involved in 2 projects without precedent in the country: the modernization of the airport as the first Public Private Partnership and the extension of two highways for a value of USD400 million. All these projects are at their initial stages and will involve project finance and legal structures without precedent in Paraguay.

Regarding antitrust, the recent implementation of a new competition law will promote the development of this key practice since the legislation is completely new to Paraguay.

What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Our priority is the quality of our team as that is where the client will see tangible benefits. In that sense, we have invested and continue to invest in specialisation of our current lawyers and incorporation of highly qualified lawyers in key practice areas. We have even expanded our team to include lawyers with expertise from abroad since some transactions are without precedent in the country.

Another important area that will surely benefit our clients is the institutionalisation process we have undergone, which has created strong, motivated and well-managed teams that can focus on client service. We also seek to ensure we have a diverse team and believe that the multitude of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives benefit clients directly.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes. We try to be on top of it using state-of-the-art software tailored to the legal world. This software includes top of the line billing and time keeping systems, document management systems and client portals.

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

The most important example is the incorporation of professionals and organic growth of talent in tune with business developments have benefitted out clients. We have identified key sectors that would represent business opportunities to clients and hired leading experts in each field or specialized our existing attorneys. The result is highly experienced and trained teams that have been able to secure businesses and projects for our clients.

Over the years we have developed areas in order to provide a one-stop shop service for our clients for legal and other related services. We have provided clients with the key connections in the country or business/economy insight of the country.

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

We believe that clients highly appreciate stability and strategic direction provided by their trusted law firm. It will therefore remain our goal to continuously focus on understanding our clients’ specific context and strategy in order to deliver innovative, practicable solutions and establish trust. Clients look for timely personalized services. This includes speaking the language of the boardroom and business, not just legalese.

Our three year plan therefore involves a steady grow of our firm trying to have the most specialized talent in the legal areas that develop on a national and international level.

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