Interview with: Haraldur I. Birgisson, Managing Partner

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Haraldur I. Birgisson, managing partner at Deloitte Legal in Iceland discusses the firm’s focus and future ambition.

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

There are three factors which differentiate Deloitte Legal in the market. First is the Deloitte Legal global network which extends to over 80 countries and entails over 2.000 lawyers and attorneys, who collaborate across countries in serving our clients. Second is our wide-ranging experience in tax, which is interconnected with all legal aspects of business and investment decisions both locally and globally. Lastly it is our collaboration with other Deloitte businesses, which include financial advisory, consulting, risk advisory and audit. Our local Deloitte Legal capabilities coupled global multidisciplinary service allows us to offer clients of all sizes a single point of contact with wide-ranging and in-depth advisory experience and pragmatic solutions which suits their market and strategy.

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

We will continue to grow in international tax and M&A legal related services. We are also building up new capabilities within EEA, competition and TMT, which suit well given the market dynamics in Iceland and supplement our current offerings within legal M&A. An emphasis on technology law furthermore fits well with increased capabilities within Deloitte’s Consulting tech offerings where subject matter experts are amongst others supporting companies in their digital transformation journey. Those journeys have a wide-range of touch points with various legislative aspects. Another driver behind this approach is the current positive economic outlook which has expedited various investments locally and across borders.

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

Broadening our service offerings into EEA, competition and TMT is a significant change which will benefit our clients, both in stand-alone competition related challenges in a small market such as Iceland and coupled with legal M&A services, whereas competition aspects are always interconnected. The other notable change is our emphasis on technology, which Deloitte Legal Globally has invested substantially in recent years. We are looking into implementing a few of these solutions which we believe will benefit our clients in the long-run.

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

We definitely see an increased focus from clients on LegalTech solutions, where the objective is to optimize processes, mitigate risk factors and increase efficiency. One tech solution which we are looking into implementing is an artificial intelligence tool which aims to change the way lawyers do legal research. That would definitely provide us with value-adding insights to share with clients and leverage in client cases. We have also created a free fully automated tax and legal newsletter where a robot gathers intel from around 40 public pages on proposed bills, committee motions, new law and court rulings and shares with clients and all those who have signed up. In this age of massive information flow, sometimes easy solutions are the best.

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

I want to mention two examples. One being a resent listing of our client at the First North Growth Market here in Iceland where we supported them with a wide range of services leading up to the IPO, being the first gaming company in Iceland to go public with a quadruple oversubscription of shares. Second would be a client of ours in the high-tech manufacturing sector, which for a number of years we have supported with corporate structuring and various other elements in order to align the group up for sale, which recently took place.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Definitely, law firms are expected to bring stability and direction to the table, as well as solutions, where they utilize their expertise and insights on the legislative framework along with their clients’ circumstances and ambitions. Business and law are interconnected as neither essentially thrives without the other. Sound, long-term business decisions are not made in a legal vacuum and lawyers wouldn’t have much to do if there were no entrepreneurs and executives to make those decisions. Deloitte Legal reflects this interplay and we will slowly but steady continue to grow within the fields of corporate law.