In 2013, Lisbon-based Vieira de Almeida (VdA) was named most innovative law firm in continental Europe by the Financial Times. It was a stunning achievement, doubly so for a Portuguese firm. In 2009 a global financial crisis metastasized across Europe, devastating Portugal’s economy. The subsequent prolonged recession hit VdA’s biggest clients hardest, but unlike many of its competitors, VdA chose to not cut fees or staff. Instead, the firm used the crisis as an opportunity for reinvention. The firm’s strategic response, dubbed the Lighthouse Project, debuted in 2010. It plotted a four-year course out of troubled waters through big investments in innovation, business development and firm management. VdA’s bet paid off. In 2011 its new initiatives began to attract international innovation accolades. By 2013, VdA hit record revenue, despite Portugal’s continuing economic troubles.
The case study examines VdA’s approach to firm management, both before and during the financial crisis. It also examines the Lighthouse Project and how innovation moved to the center of firm identity. Finally, the case study considers the role of firm culture and leadership during periods of transformation.
The case allows participants to explore ways that law firms respond to economic crisis and develop strategic plans. It also examines the mechanisms of innovation and prompts readers to consider how law firms can become more innovative.
strategic planning, innovation, talent management
Geographic: Lisbon, Portugal
Industry: Law Firm
Event Year Begin: 2000s
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