Please describe your current role (eg, responsibilities, size of team, structure)
I lead a group of 23 lawyers, as corporate legal director of the Telefónica Group in Argentina.
What is the greatest achievement of your career thus far?
Having contributed to changing a decade-long, 100%-external model of legal services into an internal/external model, which involved a significant challenge in terms of culture - both for attorneys (who had to start working as attorneys) and for internal clients (who had to understand that they had actual lawyers at home).
What is the most challenging situation that you have faced in your current role?
The integration of two teams from merged companies.
Are there certain kinds of legal issues that you routinely refer to outside counsel? And what kinds of matters do you tend to handle in-house?
We follow a model based on two combined criteria: core v non-core matters, and critical/strategic v non-critical/non-strategic matters. In short, law firms normally help us with large routine matters, litigation and matters that require specialisation in a particular non-core field. In any event, strategy definitions and main decisions should never be outsourced. Law firms perform much better when dealing with a qualified client.
Which two/three law firms that you have recently instructed have made you smile, and why?
As a funny example, I once had to congratulate two senior partners of a firm for an 'original' defensive strategy which they presented as theirs, but was actually based on my previous opinion and contained my own wording. My memo had been forwarded many times and someone in the chain did a 'copy and paste'. The senior partners simply didn't know what their poorly supervised junior attorneys had been doing. Of course, I agreed with the strategy.
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
"Nothing is more dangerous than a 'specialist' without a strong knowledge in general principles of law. Knowing a little bit is much worse than knowing nothing."
What are the most significant challenges that in-house lawyers are likely to face over the next few years?
The frontier between advocacy and compliance duties, which are hardly compatible. Lawyering means defending.
With regards to your industry, are there any recent significant developments worth highlighting?
In the telecommunications world, we face shocking news every week. Perhaps worth highlighting is the tension between network operators and 'the rest' (internet service providers, device manufacturers and search engines). Who pays for the party?
If not a lawyer, what would you be?
A writer. I have not given up yet. In fact, an agreement is a two-character story told in future tense.
Telefónica is one of the world's leading integrated operators in the telecommunications sector, providing communication, information and entertainment solutions, with a presence in Europe, Africa and Latin America. It operates in 25 countries. As of December 2010, Telefónica's total number of customers amounted to 287.6 million.