Duarte Henriques

Duarte Henriques

Founding Member – Victoria Associates, Portugal

1. How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the way you work as a lawyer? What are the key positives and negatives that have emerged out of lockdown?

It has affected very little. We at Victoria Associates have implemented a business model that is based on remote connections and therefore the lockdown did not have a significant impact in the way we work. However, regarding an important part of our work, which is done in court or arbitration rooms, we had to hold hearings via remote outlets (from Zoom, to Teams, Webex, and others). The positive impact is that clients and opposing parties and decision makers are more amenable to accept the holding of meetings and hearings via remote means. The other very positive impact—I would say the biggest—is the fact that clients have finally realised that they don’t need lofty offices or luxurious spaces to get the best advice and counselling, and therefore are looking under different perspectives to small boutiques such as ours. The negative impact is precisely resulting from the overuse of remote means of communication leaving less time to dedicate to drafting and researching jobs.

2. Will you and your firm/company continue to use flexible and agile working in the future? Will you reduce the size of your physical office space?

We will undoubtedly continue to use tools that make us more flexible and agile than the most part of the competition. This is something that we’ve been doing for some time now and long before the lockdown. Actually, we are planning to expand both in physical space and Human Resources albeit at a secure and sustained pace.

3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis?  What has been successful and what has been lacking?

We have been using tech tools such as Sharepoint and other cloud sharing systems for quite a while. Video conferencing has also been in our list of technological tools for some time. We also use tech tools to work together, to manage document flows, and to keep track of time and expenses. So this is nothing new to us nor did it happen as a result of the lockdown. However, there are areas where things could improve substantially like the contact with administrative authorities, execution of contracts and deeds remotely, and the quality of communications worldwide because it is obvious that the network coverage is not yet as “global” as it should be.

4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?

There are still some sectors of the legal industry that resist to changes and evolution in the use of technology. There are also many players that fear the advance of developed tech tools such as big data and AI. However, I do not see that the new technology platforms and tools will replace the human input in a number of areas such as drafting of complex documents, decision making, negotiation, and the like. I foresee a more extensive and developed use of technology when it comes to establishing connections and working remotely, with more immersive settings that mimic the real environment of the office. 

5. Has your firm/company changed its remuneration structure during the crisis? Will the firm/company consider using a “Keystone” fee-sharing or hybrid remuneration model in future?

We are not considering changing the remuneration structure, and we have already been using flexible and success-share structures. 

6. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years time.

The legal profession is conservative by nature and it is always hard to predict what has changed and or will be a “key feature” in 10 years time. However, I expect that there will be a more profound intertwine between lawyers and professionals coming from other areas (such as accountancy, financial and economic advising) in the same business structure. 

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