Diego D’Odorico is a senior associate at Salaberren y López Sansón, or SyLS, the ILN’s member firm for Argentina. In this episode, he and Lindsay discuss the regionalization happening with Argentine businesses that led the firm to open a new office in Uruguay in order to better serve their clients, the unique moment that Argentina is in, and what Diego has learned from his clients and mentors.
You can listen to the podcast here, or we’ve provided a transcript of the highlights below.
Lindsay: Hello, and welcome to the Law Firm Intelligence Podcast. I’m your host, Lindsay Griffiths, Executive Director of the International Lawyers Network. Our guest this week is Diego D’Odorico from Salaberren y López Sansón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Diego, welcome. We’re so happy to have you on the podcast this week. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and the firm and your practice?
Diego: Hi Lindsay, and thanks very much for having me. Well, I’m a senior associate at Salaberren y López Sansón, or SyLS, as we like to call it. And I’m basically involved in all aspects of the firm’s general corporate practice, M&A, and also wealth planning out, with main focus on commercial contracts, mergers and acquisitions. And also, my practice involves legal counseling to very and ultra-high net worth individuals, both domestic and foreign, and business planning in Argentina and the Latin America region.
Lindsay: Great, that’s great. So, what would you say is your biggest challenge at the moment, and how are you working to overcome that?
Diego: Well, several challenges come to my mind at the moment, but if I had to choose one, I would say facing the challenges working in Argentina and the region represent, it is something that keep you creative as to find the best ways to provide intelligent solutions to the day-to-day issues that our clients bring to us. And for instance, now Argentina is facing a complex moment both politically and socially, but that always brings interesting opportunities for developing businesses and recalculating our own strategies in order to give a good service for our clients. Most of our local business is now becoming regionalized and following this challenging path.
We have just opened a new office in Uruguay, which is SyLS Ferrari, which will be the first binational firm to provide legal, tax accounting and notary service to clients conducting their business in Uruguay. So, this is a major milestone for us since we founded the original SyLS in Argentina almost 15 years ago. And for this new venture, we have joined our good friend, Eduardo Ferrari, who is one of the most prestigious professionals in Uruguay. He’s a lawyer and also a notary public, with whom we have worked as a team for many years, assisting several of our clients. And this is a very, very challenging project that combines sales international experience, work processes, service quality and responsiveness, with Eduardo’s extensive knowledge, experience, trust, and his direct and personal approach. And he will lead a team of excellent professionals in various areas.
Lindsay: That’s great. And it sounds like a really exciting moment for the firm, and a great time to be a lawyer too, because anytime there is obviously expansion into a new market, but also challenges within a region, there’s obviously a lot of legal work to be done.
Diego: That’s right. Complex matters both locally and regionally and globally arise every day. And well, we noticed that our clients need to feel that they can rely in either legal counsels, both in terms of responsiveness and the quality of the responses. And that brings us to strengthen our capacity to be creative and to develop new strategies for getting our work done.
Lindsay: Absolutely. So, speaking of your clients, what would you say is the current state of the market and what does that mean for your clients? You’ve spoken a little bit about that already from a regional perspective, but what would you say more broadly as the state of the market?
Diego: Well, from a local perspective, we’re facing several issues regarding Argentina’s current situation, so lots of situations that require advice from a normative perspective, and changes that are happening from both the normative and the political area. That’s quite a day-to-day situation. And also, that situation leads to many Argentine residents and companies start to regionalize their businesses.
This has been a milestone since the last years, and that’s why most of Argentine entrepreneurs and also companies start to think out of the Argentine box and start to have base in Uruguay, our next neighbor, and regionalize their activities. That’s what I would say is the most trending situation regarding our market. And our clients’ expectations is to have certainty regarding how regulations will impact their business and how to find creative solutions to this wide, wide scenario of legislation, and also day-to-day situations regarding politics and the way of how bureaucracies work in our countries.
Lindsay: And I would imagine that given that it is a fluid situation, it’s difficult to give your clients certainty. But if they can feel that they have a good solid counselor in their law firm that they’re working with, that’s at least the level of certainty that you can give them, if you can’t give them certainty in the situation.
Diego: Well, it is indeed quite tough to give solid advice in such a changing scenario, but as you said, they feel comfortable with having a solid team behind which they can rely on. And that’s great for us, because they reinforce their trust in us on a day-to-day basis. And we have to be up to that by finding the most appropriate solutions and bringing that confidence that the client requires.
Lindsay: That’s great. So, what would you say is the biggest area related to either your practice or the legal industry, that you’re curious about?
Diego: Well, traditionally, I’ve been an all-field player in the corporate and M&A practice. And I have advised and represented a number of major companies and companies’ owners and executives in several industries with regards to their several daily corporate matters. But I would say that now, I’m more focused on everything related to wealth planning, which is … I wouldn’t say a new area in our firm, but definitely an area that has become stronger in the last five years. And we’re working very hard to develop it with some of my colleagues. Definitely, the regional scenario is conducive to developing this kind of area due to our clients’ situations, both personal and professional or business situation. So, there are several interesting things in that area that we’re now exploring and working on along with our clients, such as incorporating trusts, administrating trust funds, designing the better corporate structures for families to protect their wealth. That’s mostly what I’m more focused on nowadays.
Lindsay: That’s great. So changing gears a little bit, can you tell us something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know?
Diego: Sure. Well, I always thought that being a lawyer is kind of an exhausting thing. And you need an escape valve in order to keep your mind sane and aligned. So having other activities to match your personalities is always important. I like to play the guitar and I have played guitar since I was a kid, playing with my friends in a band. Though I must say that in the recent years, due to the complications of life itself, it is becoming tougher to find the right moment to develop that hobby. But it’s a very important thing for me, because it connects me with something very personal and internal, and quite different to the day-to-day work also. As well as practicing some sports such as biking, which I like a lot, and try to keep my weekly 40K mark in order to keep in form.
Lindsay: That’s great. We actually have several ILN members who are musicals, and I always joke that we need to have some sort of ILN band put together at some point and get everybody to play together. I think that would be fun.
Diego: That sounds great. And actually, I was thinking a lot about jumping into the scenario on the last Philly conference, which was great, but I got lost in the bar, so you didn’t have a chance or the privilege to see me in action.
Lindsay: Oh, I missed it. Yes, I’ll have to send out an email and see who we can get together to play together. We actually had a former ILN lawyer, who their law firm used to … they had a battle of the bands as part of their intellectual property practice. And he actually left the practice of law to do music full time.
Diego: That’s great. And again, it is very important to have these complementary activities in order to keep you healthy, both physically and mentally. So, count me in for the ILN band.
Lindsay: Excellent, excellent. Okay, so who has been your biggest mentor over your career?
Diego: Well, lots of persons come to my mind when I think of mentors, but I would say in the first place, my father would be a big mentor for me. Though he’s not a lawyer, he is in the real estate business. But from a very young age, I remember him teaching me things both directly and indirectly regarding how to deal with people, how to understand businesses, how to think of solutions in an always changing and complex scenario. And he did that always with great love. So that would be the number one mentor for me.
And professionally, I cannot forget my colleagues, Rafael Salaberren, Juan Manuel Campos, Sebastian Lopez Sansón. All of them are partners of sales, who from day one, have always been supportive with me and very generously taught me everything they could. So, they’re great mentors and continue to be nowadays. And I would also say that great mentors are the clients, and especially the tough ones, because they also teach you lots of things indirectly. And it’s up to you to get from those experiences and knowledge which you can capitalize positively for the future.
I always try to tell my juniors and paralegals that they keep in mind the importance of rescuing the tough things of a deal, or even the daily things of our practice, especially in these first years of their careers in which there is a mixture of both enthusiasm and also frustration and anxieties, and remembering that you can become stronger by acknowledging the tough things from the day-to-day practice. And using them in your favor for future matters is crucial. So I would say that a third big mentor for me are those clients, especially those ones who considered to be tough. But by the end of the day, I’m grateful for having those tough situations.
Lindsay: That’s very true. There’s a lot of truth to that. Has there been a particular client that you feel has changed your practice?
Diego: Yes, a lot. I will not give names, but-
Lindsay: Of course.
Diego: … first one that comes to my mind, it’s a large client related to the pharma industry, which helped me to understand lots of verticals involved in that business and in businesses in general, because that put me in the place of having to draft contracts, deal with their clients, deal with their personnel, facing new situations every day of various natures. And it was and it continues to be very formative for me, because it’s a kind of Pandora’s box. Every day, this client surprises me with something new, something in a good way, some other times in not a good way. But again, even in those times in which the surprises are not that great, there is always something you can get from that situation.
Lindsay: That’s great. So, what do most people misunderstand about your field of work?
Diego: Well, I would say that though we are very grateful with our clients, it is usually misunderstood the amount of time and energy and commitment involved in doing a good job and delivering a good product. This might sound simple, but these are very important factors that has to be not only with the professional skills, but also with the personal skills. And sometimes clients may not notice that. And it’s very important for us to keep committed to this day-to-day situation of bettering ourselves in what we do and also in the products we deliver. So again, we are very grateful with our clients. They do recognize all our efforts, but it is easy in the day-to-day frenzy not to recognize all this time, energy and commitment involved.
Lindsay: Yes, I think that’s absolutely true. And so along the same lines, what would be the most important lesson that you’ve learned over the course of your career so far?
Diego: Well, lots of lessons, but I would say firstly, the importance of relying on a solid team, both professionally and in the human dimension. We must not forget that we share lots of hours in our offices or nowadays via digital platforms with our colleagues, and it’s kind of a second family. So having a great group to work with is crucial to understand each other, to share a similar approach to the professional matters and the personal matters regarding values. This is crucial, and I’m very lucky to say that I’m in a team of such people. It makes things much easier, definitely, because behind every daily situation, both professional and personal, even those minor situations, there is an opportunity to learn something new. And I am grateful for learning everyday new things with these people.
Lindsay: That is a huge lesson, absolutely. And so, what does being part of the ILN mean to you?
Diego: Well, it means having the chance of being part of a group of people that prove to be excellent, both in a professional and in a human sense. It is also a great way to generate business opportunities. That has been proved a long time. And what surprised me the most is that once you get the face-to-face contact with the ILN members, it might sound a bit cliche or naive, but it feels like a family. And as the events [inaudible 00:22:22], it is in those meetings where lawyers become friends, they actually become friends. And it is a pleasure to be part of such a network, to be completely frank. Firstly, we were skeptic about joining a professionals’ network, but it proved to be, and it continues to prove to be great over time.
Lindsay: I’m so glad to hear that. So, wrapping up, I always like to ask this question. What is something that you are enjoying right now that has nothing to do with work?
Diego: Yes, definitely. I am enjoying lying on my couch after facing a very intense move from one apartment to the other. It was a process of, I would say, one or two months. And as we were discussing prior to recording this podcast, it is quite a stressful situation, but in this case, it was for good. And I’m really enjoying now the comfort of being established in my new place and just leaving the simple things such as, again, sitting in my couch, enjoying a good movie, and sleeping a good nap, or inviting friends to have dinner.
Lindsay: That’s wonderful. Yes, the rewards are great. The stress is also great, but once you’re done, it’s a really rewarding experience. Absolutely. I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying your new home.
Diego: Thanks very much, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Well, thank you very much, Diego. I really appreciate you being here this week. And to all of our listeners, we’ll be back next week with our next guest. And in the meantime, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Ratings really do help us establish our podcast. And so, thank you so much, Diego. We’ll be back next week.
Diego: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. It was my pleasure.