Jaime Carey is celebrated for his “notable tax focus”, with sources further applauding his transactional and dispute resolution expertise.
What inspired you to pursue a legal career?
I come from a family with a long tradition in law and it is in my blood. Both my grandfathers and my father were lawyers, as well as my brothers. I have always believed that the legal profession gives one a broad education that is useful in many businesses and enterprises. In this respect, I have focused my practice in the corporate/M&A and tax world, which, from my perspective, have always gone hand-in-hand. I also have a financial background from my original career in ICADE in Madrid, which has given me a business sense in my practice and has obviously been important in my role as managing partner of the firm.
What do you enjoy the most about your role as managing partner of Carey and co-head of the firm's tax group?
As managing partner, my main objective has been to have a firm with a culture of trust amongst the partners and a collaborative atmosphere, where all partners try to make the pie grow for everyone rather than focusing on each getting a larger piece. Our culture has been fundamental for our growth and success. In fact we practically have no lateral partners, and all are grown inside. This is fundamental for the culture to permeate within the firm. I enjoy and devote a large part of my time ensuring the firm is always in the forefront of technology and we have been constantly investing in this area. The tax practice has been always related to numbers, which I have always liked. From corporate taxes, I have experience counselling families and high-net-worth individuals in their businesses and in their local and international structures. One ends up being a mixture of lawyer and a psychologist, with a key component of human interaction, which I enjoy very much.
What do clients look for when selecting a firm?
In my experience, clients look for firms and lawyers who have a commercial vision, can provide value added to their services, who innovate and understand the problems and challenges of their companies, and look out for risks and opportunities in a proactive way.
How would you describe your leadership style? How can practitioners hone their leadership skills most effectively?
My style has always been to focus on people and to try to constantly push for the one firm concept. Our partners at the firm and myself promote a collaborative and team spirit approach with a horizontal relationship. I have always conveyed to our lawyers to have a pro-business approach and commercial vision to solve the client’s problems.
I believe that I am perceived as being human, practical, and creative. Humour is an important trait in my personality, which helps to smooth rough edges in human interaction.
Today, emotional intelligence and communication abilities are key to navigating this diverse and changing world. Developing people skills and human relationship abilities is something that all lawyers should be worried about, especially the younger ones. It doesn’t matter how bright you are if you have a bad relationship with the rest of your team or third parties.
As vice president of the International Bar Association, how do you think firms in Latin America can improve their international presence?
The Latin American market is very big and varied. Not every firm wants to have an international focus. Many focus on more local problems, such as labour, tax, environmental and litigation issues.
The firms with a more international vocation are the corporate ones, which have thrived in the recent past, due to the economic growth in the region. They have become more sophisticated and provide a good level of service to their clients.
Do you think enough is being done to improve diversity in the legal profession? What can firms do to improve?
This is a pending task for all, not just firms and companies around the world. From a work perspective and looking just to high-level positions, there is a growing knowledge that promoting and making available mentoring and flexibility alternatives are key, so that we don’t lose talent. We all know that diversity brings value to a team because it allows you to look at problems from different angles. So, even though it’s a priority, changing cultural patterns is difficult. The pandemic and the millennial generation have ushered in a big push to move in that direction.
What are your aims for the firm over the next few years?
Taking Carey to a cutting-edge point in ESG, technology, cybersecurity, AI and diversity matters are my key goals for the next five years. These topics are on the agenda of every CEO right now and will be the standard with which law firms will be evaluated in 5-10 years’ time. All these issues need a long time to be implemented, so we are already at work in all of this.
What is the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
The best advise that I have received is that one should always understand that clients are people, and we need to help them to solve their problems.