The Legal 500 – U.S. Special: Interview with A. Pohlmann
In August 2019 an interview with Dr. Andreas Pohlmann has been published in the print edition of the U.S. special edition of The Legal 500 EMEA. He answers questions about the market position, further development and strategic direction of Pohlmann & Company.
Below you will find the detailed version.
What do you see as the main points that differentiate your firm from your competitors?
Clients value the fact that they receive advice from professionals with multiple years of business and C-Suite experience. We strive to support our clients in solving their problems rather than only provide theoretic advice. The background and experience that our professionals have – the majority of them having worked in-house in senior management functions for many years and with substantial experience in managing crisis situations – enables us to understand what works in practice and what does not and to help clients navigate challenging territories. Because we remain focused on our core expertise, namely compliance, risk- and crisis management, governance and investigations, clients trust us that we are the one-stop-shop in these practice areas.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
Increasing regulatory challenges will be the key drivers of the firms’ practices going forward. Anti-bribery and anti-corruption are going to remain on top of our clients’ agenda. However, we envisage anti-money laundering as well as international economic sanctions and export controls to move into an even closer focus of enforcement agencies and globally operating companies alike. Another growing practice is environmental and technical compliance. Our clients are global players from across all industries. They face in-depth scrutiny, on the one hand by investors, who want to invest into companies that are playing by the rules and on the other hand by enforcement agencies, that continue strengthening their international cooperation. As a result, we will see more complex cross-border investigations and an increase in DPA-style resolutions across the world, including corporate monitorships becoming an increasingly important tool in the arsenal of law enforcement agencies. Last but not least, within such expanding regulatory framework tasks, duties and liability risks for directors and officers are becoming more challenging with our clients’ demand for experienced counsel and support.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
First, we are positioned to provide elite legal and advisory services in international corporate compliance and investigations. Second, while our roots are in Germany, Pohlmann & Company is now an international law and advisory firm with a global perspective. Our clients all over the world benefit from our unique reputation and credibility among (law) enforcement agencies in numerous countries. It is one of our most important assets.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
There is no doubt about this. For example, measuring the effectiveness of compliance systems and processes is largely data and technology driven. We therefore do not only advise our clients in terms of designing and implementing compliance systems but also provide customized solutions and tools to them, for example in the area of business partner due diligence and risk assessments. In fact, we are in the age of “Compliance Tech” and we are one of the key drivers in this area. Having said that, we have developed over the last years a suite of web-based applications helping our clients to manage their compliance system. Amongst other tools, we use our own Compliance Risk Assessment tool to analyze our clients’ exposure to corruption-, antitrust-, fraud-, money-laundering and other risks and to generate real-time and automated reports facilitating a continuous risk mitigation. Our clients can purchase a license for this IT-cloud based solutions to keep up the pace with rapidly changing regulatory compliance requirements and manage and steer their compliance activities globally.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
We have in our firm the unique position to combine the experience of partners that have been CEO, CFO or other key business responsibilities with the in-depth compliance and legal know-how of excellent lawyers and former compliance officers. Therefore, our advice and offerings of a business partner due diligence include more than the review of the third-party’s integrity and ethical behavior. We also support our clients in improving their indirect sales channel by for example defining KPIs measuring the sales partners’ commercial performance and reducing the payments of sales commissions or sales costs. In another example we support the procurement organization in limiting unnecessary single source decisions, which helps to reduce compliance risks on the one hand side and improves the client’s position when negotiating prices and quality requirements on the other hand.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms? Where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
We strongly believe in long term client relationships that enable us to gain a deep and comprehensive insight into the clients’ business, their strategy, key success factors and people. Such insight combined with our business and legal expertise is invaluable as it is our aspiration to serve our clients on an equal footing in their best interest. The deep relationships that results therefrom will continue to form the basis of our DNA as lawyers and advisors in the best sense. In addition, we remain committed to provide the best legal and advisory services in focused areas of our core competencies – as this is where we come from: corporate compliance including authority imposed corporate monitorships, risk- & crisis management, governance and investigations. I expect us to further increase our activities in the area of crisis management as well as further strengthen our involvement in the area of post-merger activities with a particular focus on merger integrations topics. We want to be recognized by clients as the “Go-To-Firm” in those areas.