Teamwork, integrity and a passion for excellence are just some of the qualities that describe the people at Marval O’Farrell Mairal. On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, we spoke to the firm’s chairman, Santiago Carregal.
By Giselle Estrada Ramírez
In the world of law, firms or offices whose resilience skills are maintained over the years tend to stand out. One example of these, in Argentina, is the long-established law firm Marval O’Farrell Mairal, noted for its quality in Corporate, Banking and Finance, Intellectual Property, Litigation and Arbitration, M&A, among other practices that cover all legal aspects that a firm could cover.
In celebration of their 100th anniversary, we spoke to Santiago Carregal, chairman of the firm, who spoke about the many challenges they have faced, their organisation and future plans, as well as the characteristics that represent them and have allowed them to continue for a century.
Congratulations on celebrating 100 years in the market! Santiago, could you tell us a bit about the history of the company? How did it come about and what was its purpose?
Marval began in 1923, through the impulse of the brothers Juan and Enrique de Marval. The Marval brothers gave shape to what was to be the genesis of the firm: an agency specialising in intellectual property matters. At that time, Argentina was competing for the flow of international investments with countries such as the United States, Australia and Canada; therefore, the incipient agency channelled a large number of matters related to the registration of trademarks and patents, advising and managing them before the corresponding public entities. Companies such as Coca Cola and Colgate were advised by Marval when setting up their businesses in the country.
In 1938, Jorge O’Farrell joined the firm, giving the organisation its legal stamp by creating the legal practice. At first, the focus of Marval as a law firm was in the areas of business law, especially in general commercial law, tax law and industrial property law, which, as mentioned above, was directly linked to the embryonic activity of the former agency. At the end of the 1970s, the firm began a process of gradual expansion of its practice areas, a process that deepened definitively in the 1990s through various mergers/incorporations of lawyers that brought as a corollary the consolidation of Marval as a full-service firm, leader in the Argentinean market.
Not every firm reaches a three-figure anniversary, which implies that the structure of how you manage the teams in the firm is very well grounded. How do you organise the teams and what is the communication between them?
Marval’s strategy has always been and continues to be to provide an excellent legal service to our clients in all areas of law and, to this end, we have focused on all our teams in the different practices working as a team, in coordination, under the “One Firm” model. At Marval, all our teams are ranked by specialized magazines as Band 1 and a few as Band 2, which guarantees our clients homogeneous quality and vast experience in the matters they entrust to us. The teams are led by a head partner of the department. The members of the practice area meet regularly, for technical issues and updates with the whole department, or with the partners for coordination, business development or promotion of associates in the department. We also have meetings between teams to articulate and enhance the approach to legal matters and issues. We insist on permanent professional training and updating of lawyers not only internally, but also externally, participating in events in Argentina and abroad. All our partners have postgraduate studies, either in Argentina or abroad, and many have had experience working as Foreign Associates in leading law firms in the United States, UK or Europe. Then there are many special committees such as Partner Career, New Partners, Technology & Legal Operations, Associate Career, New Business, Marketing & BD, and so on. There is also an Executive Committee which implements the policies and decisions of the firm’s Council. The Board is composed of eight partners, two of whom are the managing partner and the president or chairman of the firm.
After so many years of experience in Argentina, how do you continue to innovate and differentiate yourself from the competition?
There are very good law firms in Argentina, so differentiating ourselves from the competition has never been easy. We have worked hard to make the Marval name and our work stand out in the market, both in Argentina and abroad. This external reputation and internal cohesion that we have built over the years makes our clients trust that the matters they entrust to us will be treated with seriousness and excellence, and that we will always prioritise the client’s interest over the interest of the firm and its partners. Perhaps Marval’s distinguishing feature is its passion for excellence and innovation. We always say that innovation is the best remedy to avoid the complacency that could naturally come from being the market leader. At Marval, the strength of rock and the flexibility of wicker coexist, generating the keys to face the future: innovation, creativity, modernity, adaptability, efficiency, passion and curiosity. That is why we are constantly attentive and willing to adapt to make our service better and more efficient and, above all, attentive to changes in what our clients are looking for from a law firm of this type. To understand their business more and better in order to provide comprehensive solutions and not just legal ones.
In short, our clients choose us taking into account three dimensions: the past, i.e. our reputation, what we have done and what we have achieved; the present, i.e. the quality of our current service; and the future, which is none other than the trust our clients place in us to be able to continue to provide them with a quality service.
Read the full interview in The Latin American Lawyer 31 here. Available in Spanish.