Good external lawyers are aware that their added value will be the practical insight they can offer into enforcement and court practice, says Samsung's Carla de Abreu Lopes
The advantage larger law firms have when competing with rivals to win instructions from clients is that they are able to offer a wider range of knowledge, says Carla de Abreu Lopes, legal counsel at Samsung Electrónica Portuguesa. That said, when choosing external lawyers, Samsung takes into account a firm's "prestige" as well as the track record of the individual lawyer who will be assigned to a case, Abreu Lopes adds. Meanwhile her approach also involves seeking references for the preferred firm, she explains.
"I work with several external law firms," she says. "Considering the scope of the outsourced work, which is very specialised and requires knowledge of the client's business, I tend to choose larger firms." Samsung sold 700,000 devices in the Portuguese market in 2017, according to consultancy IDC. In February this year, Samsung - which originated in South Korea - struck a deal with Vodafone for the Spanish launch in of Vodafone's V-Home platform of 'Smarthome' services for the Internet of Things (IoT).
The type of work that Samsung usually passes to outside counsel includes matters related to privacy and IT, as well as competition, environmental laws and tax issues. Abreu Lopes says it is important that external law firms work closely with Samsung in order to fully appreciate what the company requires from a legal perspective. "External lawyers must identify with their client's project, so that they will understand the client's needs," she explains.
Keeping it simple
The qualities Abreu Lopes looks for in lawyers include a high level of expertise in the relevant area, in addition to a practical approach and awareness of previous court decisions if relevant. "Choosing a specific firm matters when it is necessary to have a team that specialises in different fields of law," she explains. "In my view, the good external lawyer is knowledgeable in his or her field of law, but is also aware that their added value will be the practical insight into enforcement and court practice," Abreu Lopes says. Such knowledge and expertise will help in-house lawyers to better assess the risks involved and enable them to better explain the matter in simple, easily understandable terms to non-lawyers.
Abreu Lopes believes that another extra benefit of using an external firm - in...