fivehundred magazine > Interview with: Juan Camilo Rodríguez > ‘There is corruption at all levels’

‘There is corruption at all levels’

CMS Rodríguez-Azuero’s managing partner talks about the challenges facing lawyers in Colombia and the positive impact of his firm’s recent integration into the CMS fold.

How would you define your firm’s culture? How important is that culture to you?

Our firm’s culture is based on team work. We work together towards the same goals and objectives. The foundation of our work is based on strong values and principles that guide us to always be client centric and work towards protecting their interests. We honour our word and commitments. The culture we have built over almost 40 years, not only internally with all collaborators, but externally with clients, suppliers, and counsels is fundamental to me.

Since becoming managing partner, what changes have you made that directly benefit clients?

I cannot sum up all the major changes our firm has been through in only one year. Since becoming managing partner, as a team, we have achieved our integration with CMS, one of the top ten international law firms. We have strengthened the different areas of practice which provide a solid service portfolio to clients of all types, thus becoming a ‘one stop’ multinational law firm. We have promoted and hired five new partners. We have also increased and strengthened our access to the state-of-the-art technology.

What are the biggest challenges facing firms in the Colombian market?

The economy has been weak in the last couple of years, the judicial system is unpredictable, and, in general, the environment is stained with very complex cases of corruption at all levels, both public and private. Even though all these challenges affect the Colombian climate, we are positive and do all in our power to provide solutions to our clients’ needs that foresee future and present risks. With regard to our own challenges we are moving to a new office and are continuing with our growth path in terms of partners, lawyers, and clients.

What do you think are the top three things most clients want and why?

Practical and quality legal support, efficiency, and fair costs. The combination of these three elements are what drives clients when deciding which law firm to choose for the management of theirs interests.

Is technology changing how you interact with clients and the services you provide them?

Our integration with CMS, has opened our eyes to a new world of technologies in the legal market. CMS is a pioneer in innovation of new technologies to provide clients with the legal advice they are looking for. We use tools such as e-guides, online publications, Law-Now for online legal updates, the intranet used for international connection and tools, WebEx for conferences, among many more.

What have you found are the best ways to keep your best people, while also attracting new talent?

We have found that our best practices to keep our best people are having a clear career plan where people know what they need to achieve to grow within our firm. Also, we enrich our people’s interests by empowering them in their roles, and by letting them, under our supervision, assume responsibilities to achieve great projects.

Furthermore, we create activities to motivate people and develop their sense of belonging. We also offer them other initiatives such as education, training, and secondments abroad with other CMS jurisdictions. We believe all of this creates a healthy working environment that attracts new talent.

How is the firm promoting greater diversity within the legal profession?

Our firm has never made decisions, regarding people, based on their gender, sex, religion, or political orientations. We not only try to hire the people with the best talent, but also, and most importantly, the best human beings. We have a clear diversity within our firm as of today: we have two female partners and have flexible schedules to help parents take care of their children. We have lawyers from various universities, different cities, and countries, among others. In my opinion, diversity helps the firm increase creativity and innovation.

What has surprised you most about running a firm?

Running a law firm is a very complex business, where you must deal with and align a lot of bright people and their interests to make things work and flow in the optimal direction.

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