Though ABBC hasn't gone as far as merging with DLA Piper, the Lisbon firm has a very strong relationship with the international player and it's reaping dividends
The fortunes of Portuguese law firm ABBC are closely intertwined with that of international firm DLA Piper. As partner Nuno Azevedo Neves acknowledges, "we're the exclusive relationship firm of DLA Piper in Portugal and we have a very strong and deep relationship - we work together as one team". ABBC is officially described as DLA Piper's 'focus firm' in Portugal, but what does this mean in practice? The firm has teams that work closely together - it is understood that ABBC has a particularly well developed relationship with DLA Piper's Madrid office - and the firms have shared knowledge management systems as well as closely aligned strategies for the African market. Though international clients that work with DLA Piper may have their own preferred firms in Portugal, the theory is that all DLA Piper work in Portugal is referred to ABBC. "We [ABBC and DLA Piper] share the same values and vision and the same ambition", says Azevedo Neves.
What is the history behind this close affiliation between the two firms? ABBC has been DLA Piper's focus firm since 2011. The relationship began after DLA Piper had decided it wanted to end the tie-up it had with Miranda. Azevedo Neves says: "DLA Piper was looking for a relationship firm in Portugal, with a strong market position and capability that would share the same values, vision and ambition, while ABBC was considering a stronger relationship with one global firm, as part of our long term international strategy." He adds: "We understood the acknowledged value of DLA Piper and DLA Piper's brand." It is understood that ABBC has a particularly close relationship with DLA Piper's Madrid office - DLA Piper's global co-chairman is Madrid-based partner Juan Picón.
Azevedo Neves says the relationship with DLA Piper has strengthened over time and describes the feedback from clients as "excellent". He adds: "Relationships work when the values, vision, ambition and capability are shared, and if you are able to work together in creating mutual opportunities and adding value to clients." Azevedo Neves says there are many opportunities in the Iberian market, but also in Portuguese-speaking countries and regions across the world. "Our global capability in offering legal services does make a difference and allows us to generate additional value to clients,"...