JUNE 2017
Adolfo Suárez Illana: “Chile Was Essential to Us: Here We Seek to Provide Top Quality”
ONTIER International President Adolfo Suárez Illana. Image source: Julio Castro.

Adolfo Suárez Illana: “Chile Was Essential to Us: Here We Seek to Provide Top Quality”

ONTIER International President Adolfo Suárez Illana, interviewed by Paula Vargas for the prestigious Chilean newspaper Diario Financiero.

He is the public face to ONTIER, one of Spain's most important law firms, which dove into the internationalisation journey five years ago, and now operates in 15 countries. We're talking about Adolfo Suárez, whose name already provides him with the best possible cover letter. Son of Spain's former President Adolfo Suárez, he also inherited his father's passion for public matters.

Which are your thoughts on the performance of ONTIER Chile after two years functioning?

I still feel like a little kid about it. Chile is a market that I find especially complex, mature and highly competitive within the legal sector. I've always thought that it's one of the countries gathering the widest range and best quality lawyers within America, which you definitely need to keep in mind when settling in the country, since that's where you're going to become a player. Furthermore, I'd like to add that we're truly happy to be operating here. Chile was essential to us: here we seek to provide top quality at a local level. That's why we came to Chile bringing major clients with us. We want to become a great local player.

Which are the implications of becoming a great local player?

When talking about 'great' I don't mean size, neither in the staff or in the revenue, even though that is usually the consequence of what I truly mean with 'great'. My point therefore is that what we pursue is to be great in providing top quality legal services. We want to become a reference law firm locally, we want to be known by the excellence of our services. And if we are known for providing quality services worldwide, then we need to be even stronger in Chile, given the legal excellence and first level competitiveness here.

Considering that these last few years the growth has decreased in Chile and the area, do you think it was a good time to settle in?

I think it was the perfect time to come. We're much more than a law firm, we are a legal services company. And as a company we have a background, and we know that both crisis and peaks happen. That's not what we're scared about.

Why did it take you so long to settle in Chile?

Chile wasn't the first country we settled in within LatAm because of several reasons, but our clients required our presence in the country, and that's why we're here.

Which is your growth strategy in the country?

I can't say we don't want to keep growing, however our main focus now is developing the Corporate, Disputes, Labour, Tax and Public areas.

Organic growth or a further incorporation?

With all the ONTIER countries we started by incorporating the full law firm to our company, but what we never do is 'stealing' departments: we don't do it as we don't like others doing it to us.

But it has happened to us that a law firm we first associated with, ended up in a full integration process. We're always open to this kind of transactions, but we do like to grow in an organic manner: we like providing a growing perspective for the people joining ONTIER.

Which are ONTIER's next steps at an international level?

Our main goal is reinforcing our presence as the leading law firm in Ibero-America.

After Brexit, are you reevaluating if staying headquartered in London or not?

It's still too early and we don't know what's going to happen. I don't think the UK will stop being a strategic partner within Europe. Of course I can't predict the future, but I truly hope that something will happen, somehow at some point, minimising the huge mistake that I personally believe the UK, a country I truly respect, is making with Brexit.

At a more political level, what do you think of the current situation in Latin America and Chile?

I don't want to talk about internal issues of the country, but I believe that Chile is one of the countries in Ibero-America that kept a better approach, that better managed to keep growing. Therefore any Government coming now, I hope they know how to overcome the challenges ahead.

Is Chile still on the spotlight for foreign investment, even with the reform?

Regardless of how convenient a reform can turn out to be for an investor, let's keep a global scope and think about the environment. What I see is that Chile is doing pretty well overall. My political preference in Spain is Partido Popular, and that being said and respecting other options, what I believe is that liberalising the economy and making it possible for private companies to grow is the best thing to do, as long as boundaries are set, staying cautious and vigilant.