Arbitrator of the Month

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Betto seraglini is a boutique dispute resolution law firm specialising in international arbitration and commercial litigation. They launched in 2013 with Professor Christophe Seraglini, in order to provide
tailored high-quality legal services to sophisticated clients. They work for high profile clients, mostly in the defence, energy, civil aviation, construction and investment sectors in disputes requiring very particular technical and legal expertise.

“Since the firm was launched in 2013 it has more than doubled in size. When we opened our doors in 2013 we were regarded as an arbitration boutique, today, our clients are asking more and more for us to defend them in commercial litigation, in particular high-profile cases and international disputes” Jean-Georges Betto explains.

Financial performance
“In our first year we doubled our turnover, the second year we were up another 25%” enthuses Betto when asked about the firm’s financial performance this year. He goes on to explain the reasons for their success:

“In the current economic environment we are extremely proud of these results that are more and rarer today. The success of our firm is partially down to the partner’s willingness to take risks, to step out and launch the firm, to dedicate all of their time and energy to this project. We also have a unique approach to invoicing which is much appreciated by our clients, instead of billing by the hour, which can often mean that proceedings costs can skyrocket over time, we sit down with our client at the beginning of the case, evaluate the work required to handle the case and agree on a flat fee for the whole proceeding.

“This means that our clients have a clear view from the get-go, which helps them manage their finances, and our firm shares with them the risks of an unexpected increase in costs, which builds trusting relationships with our clients.”

Recent developments
With an optimistic outlook set for the future, “over this past year we welcomed a new partner, Julien Fouret, a leading specialist in international investment arbitration and public international law, widening our scope of legal expertise and once again offering our clients a more comprehensive service” Betto explains when asked what his company is doing to capitalise on this as well as sustain their success.

“We also welcomed a new Portuguese speaking associate Marie-Claire Da Silva Rosa in order to strengthen our lusophone team and our outreach in the Brazilian Market, in which we are already present as we have the advantage of having one of the rare Parisian practitioners (Thierry Tomasi) who can litigate in the Portuguese language. We have also made our stamp on the French speaking African market, representing French blue chip companies in disputes opposing them with African States which has recently had a lot of media attention, and also the Republic of Gabon in a dispute against the Chinese-owned petrol giant Addax Petroleum (Sinopec Group)” he adds.

Of course, when working in an industry that is constantly evolving measures do need to be taken to ensure that a firm is at the forefront of any emerging developments. Jean-Georges Betto lifts the lid on how this applied to the company betto seraglini, “as a ‘start-up’ firm we knew from the get-go that we were going to have to do everything to implant ourselves in the market as one of the go-to firms in matters of international arbitration and commercial litigation” he explains.

“How were we going to do this? Since the launch of the firm we have always tried to ensure that the firm is always visible, this is to say high presence on social media platforms, a focus on communication and getting information about our firm out there and last but not least with the creation of an association entitled ‘cabinets de croissance’ which roughly means ‘firms on the grow’. This Think-tank aims to bring together several specialised boutique business law firms with the aim of sharing our knowledge and experience, in particular with future entrepreneurs, and lobbying the Paris Bar authorities in order to make sure that the needs and concerns of this new generation of firms is addressed at all levels” he adds.

2016 and beyond
“Law firms today are more than ever, a people industry. This means that we invest heavily in the people we work with” Betto emphaises. Developing this pearl of wisdom, he adds: “We aim to keep our partner/ associate ratio low as we feel this is the best way to teach our associates as well as motivate them, we invest enormously in our associates, who we pay as would any large anglo-saxon firm even though we have a much smaller effective, as well as our support staff and we believe that internal promotion is the best way to construct a solid and dedicated team”.

At the close of 2013, the partners, associates and employees of betto seraglini announced the creation of the betto seraglini for International Justice Fund. “This Fonds de dotation fights to allow access for societies most vulnerable, to international justice and protection of fundamental rights by educating and representing victims” Betto explains. “Thanks to the mobilisation of its team betto seraglini for International Justice develops not only its own projects and also supports existing organisations in order to work hand in hand with human rights NGOs and be part of a more global approach” he concludes.

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