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Igor Gomes da Silva

Actualizado: 9 ago 2023

Legal & Compliance Director, ASSA ABLOY Group

 

Igor, can you tell us briefly about how you ended up as Regional Legal and Compliance Director - LATAM and Caribbean for ASSA ABLOY?

After a career in the M&A practice groups of top tier Brazilian law firms I was presented with an opportunity to get a feel for the inhouse role, assisting in the transition of a recently acquired Brazilian run family company by a multinational corporation and acting as the local focal point for all legal and compliance matters. Following the transition period, I was invited to lead the local company’s legal department.


A few years down the line, I was fortunate to cross paths with the regional leaders of ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions - Americas Division who were looking for someone with experience in M&A, Compliance and restructuring legal departments. The rest is, as they say, history and on June 1, 2023 I will celebrate my 6th anniversary with ASSA ABLOY.


In the past you spent a good portion of your time working in law firms. How those two worlds –inhouse and private practice– complement each other?


Well, it’s a symbiosis! Inhouse counsel needs law firms for both strategic and day-to-day matters to provide sound and trustworthy legal advice and support to its internal stakeholders. It is impossible to be an expert in all areas of the law, so I call on the private practice to assist me in me building an understanding which I then use to make decision or advice top management in making decisions. In turn, I try to help private practice understand the needs of the operation and what is really at stake so that they can focus of “what the client really needs”.


Do you miss something from the “private practice”?


That’s a trick question! I have found myself as inhouse counsel, love what I do, but wouldn’t be where I am today without the experience of working in the private practice. What if I had to elect something that I miss…the comradery of that late night pizza!


It is known that around the world, inhouse legal departments are growing. Is it that the case for you? Why do you think that is happening?


Yes, but in a sustainable way. I think companies are starting to realize the benefits of having inhouse counsel at the table. Inhouse counsel who really understands the business, creates a strong connection with the internal stakeholders, acts as business partners, communicates complex legal issues in a straightforward manner, avoids legal jargon, etc. can help the companies improve their results and drive growth in an ethical and sustainable manner.


How do you organize the legal work between your inhouse department and external counsels? What are the criteria to decide whether a certain task is handled internally or externally?


My idea is that inhouse should be responsible for managing legal issues in general. In an ideal scenario, the legal department to me should handle all matters, except for complex and low volume matters. These should be handled externally with strategic (emphasize “strategic”) partners.


Many corporations have separated their legal and compliance areas. It is not your case since you simultaneously act as head of legal and compliance. Are the two fields so different? How do you do to conciliate them?


They are very different roles with different mindsets, and just because I’m an attorney that doesn’t mean that I’m in a better positioned to assume compliance functions. I think it helps in certain aspects, but Compliance is so much more than understanding what legal or ethical behaviour is. Compliance is about creating and managing a program, getting top management onboard, making people understand what is right/expected of them and making sure they “comply” by implementing controls and procedures. You don’t have to be a lawyer to do this, you need to like “helping” people do what is right!


Finally. It is said that being an inhouse lawyer not only requires to know the law, but also to understand the business. Do you agree with that? Absolutely! What does it mean in practical terms?


It means leaving your mental necktie in the closet (mentality of the group known as Jurídico Sem Gravatas) and learning the language of the business, diving into the operation and understanding what the “product” is and how it’s sold.

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