“The pandemic has been good for outside law firms because they have had to become more flexible”
Leaders League: What were the main challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic?
Jacobo Cohen Imach: Our industry is growing at the speed of light and we lawyers cannot waste a second. There are 150 of us in the legal and government affairs team and the main challenge has been to ensure that the team remains focused and motivated to deal with uncertainty and not lose sight of the pace of the business.
After turning the page, last year was the best year for the team. Consumption and sales habits have changed, now everything is focused on e-commerce and the world of fintech. Our business has grown exponentially, as has our work. It was a difficult month, with a lot of pressure and stress, but the team became more independent and rose to the challenge.
Another challenge was also getting governments to give e-commerce a chance to keep working amid the pandemic. Governments quickly understood that e-commerce was a way for businesses to keep working and this helped the country in general a lot as SMEs could continue to operate using our platform and others.
What do you think of Argentina’s e-commerce regulations?
I don’t see it as much different from other regulations in Latin America. There is nothing that makes ours different in any particular way.
In Argentina as in other countries, regulators sometimes set rules with what they think is best for the company, but without involving the relevant stakeholders, which ends up affecting new investments. I think that’s the problem with a lot of regulations because this industry grows very quickly and you end up missing out on opportunities if you don’t regulate flexibly, comprehensively and conveniently.
Another mistake that regulators often make is to impose more onerous burdens on e-commerce than on traditional commerce, when the same should be true, especially with the change in consumption habits in the wake of the pandemic. I think it is important to have a balance and not to act in favor of only one of the parties.
Have you noticed more flexibility since the pandemic?
Not at all. On the contrary, many regulators, realizing that more and more people are buying online, have issued new regulations, often haphazardly and with a partial view of reality.
In light of the pandemic, has your work with external legal counsel changed?
We have a very large legal team which has grown by 50% this year and whose work has become very sophisticated. We tend to turn to law firms when we need specific, in-depth expertise or on very merchantable issues.
I think the pandemic has been good for outside law firms as they have had to become more flexible and integrate aspects of our world by force. This has helped to loosen up the law firms a bit.
In our case, companies had to learn to work at a different speed, we forced them to get out of their comfort zone, to react much faster, to have more people available. They had to integrate the technology.
The pandemic has also helped shatter traditional practices such as permanent office use. The lawyers had to be much more efficient in catching up with us and following us. With those who have worked well, the quality of service has improved a lot, but there are others who could not keep up. Not everyone has adapted.
Have you noticed any differences in the delivery of remote services?
It was difficult at first. Small businesses are the ones that adapted faster because they are more flexible, while the bigger ones took a little longer, but I think they got there sooner or later.
Do you use innovation tools for the legal field?
Technology and everything that makes legal management more efficient is in our DNA. We have many tools for managing cases, managing contracts, legal chatbots that help us with queries, artificial intelligence to respond to consumer complaints, tools for managing intellectual property, among others.
We also work on everything related to Legal Expenses, to better manage our expenses and ensure that external firms invoice us according to our needs.
What do you think are the main challenges for business lawyers today?
The main challenge for a lawyer is to be a business facilitator. Each lawyer must understand what are the objectives, goals and needs of the company because otherwise he runs the risk of giving partial solutions. In-house lawyers sometimes just do what they’re asked to do and don’t go beyond it.
Today we lawyers have to adapt at the same speed as the industry and have the business sense to develop everything quickly and according to the needs of the business, obviously ensuring that the advice we give is legally solid.
There is also an important difference between a law firm lawyer and a corporate lawyer, where the former is more “to the letter” while the corporate lawyer is asked how things can be. done. This is a key mindset change that an in-house lawyer must have in order to survive.
How does the company’s data protection system work?
We choose the highest quality legislation and apply it to all countries. Work is interconnected, cybersecurity, IT, the sales team and everyone in general understand that taking care of our users’ data is fundamental. We are very respectful, for us it is something to be taken very seriously.
What are the prospects for e-commerce in Latam? Are you planning to expand?
Electronic commerce has great prospects; today, it is much more accessible to all. We are present in 18 countries across the region but there is still a big task to accomplish and a lot of room to continue to grow in the short term, which motivates us a lot. We will continue to invest heavily in fintech and logistics infrastructure.