Technology leads an engineer to the partner position in the Law business
The path of José Paulo Graciotti began to change from Engineering to Law when the first personal computers appeared and one of the biggest law firms of the country decided to use them.
São Paulo- When the first computers, the PCs, began to appear for domestic use, one of the biggest law offices in Brazil called an engineer to implement the new technology. The engineer was José Paulo Graciotti, “Zé Paulo”.
He had left Gafisa not long ago, after ten years of a career in the civil construction. As he had participated in the implementation of the information technology master plan in the construction company, a personal friend recommended him to work for Demarest, in 1988.
To the standards of that time, the engineer tells us that the office, with 30 to 40 lawyers, was considered a big one and had Pinheiro Neto office as its only rival. “This transition to Law was kind of deviated. It was not something I had planned”, states Zé Paulo.
So far, even the biggest offices were managed by their own attorneys, Zé Paulo explains. The figure of a general director or a chief executive, dedicated only to the management, did not exist. But in the late 90’s, after over a decade in the Law firm, Zé Paulo says he was called to be the firm’s partner.
“Surely I was the first one to take over this position”, he says, currently performing as a management consultant for law firms. As the Brazilian law offices have grown much, the choice of one executive to head the office is much more common. “But, at that time, that was something very new”, he highlights.
While he was at Demarest, the consultant remembers that, with his help, the law firm was the first one to implement a corporate fax system that sent the files directly to the computer, with no need to printing. He also highlights that, under his control, the office was pioneering in the implementation of an invoicing system specific for the legal sector, at that time, a revolutionary management novelty.
However, the affinity with technology and innovation did not stop there. In 2002, when Demarest had already almost 500 professionals, there was a split-up and Zé Paulo became a member of the breakaway group, of about 20 attorneys in order to incorporate the KLA.
In the second office, the consultant implemented a software unit with a strong component of knowledge management. According to the consultant, this technology is an internal search engine for data that enables the attorneys to work in a more efficient way.
Convinced that the concept of knowledge management is one of the law secrets of the future, Zé Paulo says that the problem of a big office is the difficulty to catch-up the technological evolutions. “Technology is growing in an astounding speed. It has been very difficult to catch-up. And several offices are still managed by guys like me, from the generation of babyboomers”, he says, now 61 years old.
If, on one hand, Zé Paulo cultivates a collection of pens which he inherited from his father, who was a physician, on the other hand, he is very much attentive in relation to the digital habits of the law firms. “The offices need to reinvent themselves. Even the marketing segment is outdated. Just observe what is inserted on the LinkedIn. Always the same thing. Everything needs to be changed or they will be hit.”
One of the problems of the offices nowadays, says the specialist, is that they have no control over the main product, that is the knowledge. “I am used to saying that the main equity of the office goes down the elevator every day and goes back home. That is, if the people are not there, in the office, it is worth nothing.
For this reason, Zé Paulo says that it is important for the office to have mechanisms in order to retain the knowledge produced by the professionals. “The one who receives the royalties of a drug is not the scientist, but the pharmaceutical industry”, he adds.
The engineer says that, in addition to dedicating himself to the study of the technological changes, another motivation of his is to dedicate the years of experience in the offices in order to help new entrepreneurs in the field to evolve more rapidly. In the end of last year, he left KLA -which is currently a law office with 180 professionals – to dedicate himself to perform as a consultant.
Consultor em Gestão Empresarial e fundador da GRACIOTTI Assessoria Empresarial Ltda.