105: The Power of Alternative Law Firms

Delivering Solutions to Clients with Javier Fernandez-Samaniego    

The following highlights points from our discussion with Javier Fernandez-Samaniego, the Managing Director of Samaniego Law; an alternative Iberoamerican law firm.

Firms as Aggregators

Alternative firms offer a different structure for the delivery of legal solutions focusing on delivery as an aggregator of solutions.  This includes specialties not typically part of a traditional firm; non-legal services, technology, and outsourced solutions.  Offering overall consultancy and technology solutions within a firm often appeals to the General Counsel who doesn’t trust the disparate pieces but trusts the judgment of the alternative firm to provide a combination of services to assist in the resolution of business problems or facilitating business improvements.

Offering clients the coordination of and collaborative solutions is the way of the future.  Lawyers who think broadly and provide business solutions to clients, build trust and foster long-term client relationships.  It’s about the client and their business need with the use of technology benefiting the way a lawyer practices not as a replacement or a deterrent to practicing.


Firm Business Models and Innovation

While many US business models are innovative, the US legal industry isn’t seen as innovative, it’s seen as reluctant to change.  The legal industry needs to commit to staying current.  An example to replicate is the healthcare industry; an industry that’s saving lives by embraced innovation and continual advancement.  Looking at the medical industry and the need to stay current lawyers and firms may see the value of innovation, technology and embracing change.  Optimism exists with a new generation of lawyers hungry for change and a buyers market of General Counsel demanding it.

In the EU it’s a moment of transformation; lawyers are struggling which is driving innovation.  Referencing a report on the future of the legal industry by the UK law society of England and Wales from 2016.   We connect the change in the UK legal industry to the financial crisis and the liberation of the legal services industry through the law society’s approval of alternative legal business models – paving the way for UK firms as innovation leaders in their jurisdiction.  This change, along with allowing external capital in structuring the ownership of firms has greatly influenced how clients buy legal services in the UK today.   While large corporate organizations include fewer law firms and add several alternative law companies to their panels; organizations trying and having solid experiences with alternative firms we’re seeing change enabled.


Opportunity and Slogans

Today there are more opportunities than ever within the legal industry.  Being a lawyer is an incredible profession as lawyers are drivers of change.  Thinking about the needs of clients shouldn’t be a marketing slogan but a way of doing business.   It’s our obligation to understand the needs of clients and to find the most efficient and appropriate solutions to solve their business problems.

Javier Fernandez-Samaniego is the Managing Director of Samaniego Law; an alternative Iberoamerican law firm specializing in technology law and dispute resolution.    His firm has experience working with EU clients, Latin American Clients – and US clients undergoing EU expansion.   Javier Fernandez Samaniego Bio