The 90 years of Palacio & Asociados

Looking forward and remembering the past with pride: Héctor Palacio reviews the history of Palacio & Asociados on its 90th anniversary and shares the vision that allowed four generations of lawyers to turn it into one of the most important Intellectual Property firms in Argentina.
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Like Alejo Carpentier in Journey Back to the Source or Fitzgerald in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Héctor Palacio prefers to go against chronology and focus on the thriving present and promising future of Palacio & Asociados before delving into the past. Amid anecdotes and curiosities, he narrates the profound changes that the firm has undergone in its first ninety years of history, which he joined in 1974. A firm that, thanks to a generation of partners who have consolidated their leadership for over a decade, a multidisciplinary team of specialized lawyers, and a dynamic and qualified team of collaborators, finds itself well prepared for the advent of artificial intelligence and its challenges.

The construction of a loyal and diverse clientele

The famous days of traveling on tight budgets and with uncertain destinations to conquer international clients and turn the firm into an internationally recognized company are long gone. In those years, every trip meant anticipating and scheduling work for the days of absence, causing anxiety and uncertainty due to the disconnection from the daily office routine. However, thanks to new technologies, today meetings with clients can be held while partners are attending international conferences without any inconvenience other than the mere time difference.

But all that effort and forward-looking ambition paid off: today, the firm has achieved a balanced mix of international and national clients, including multinational companies, exporting SMEs, and local-based ventures. All of them receive a customized attention that has distinguished the firm since the beginning. Héctor takes pride in mentioning that he still advises clients with whom his father built a close friendship, and who have grown alongside the firm. At the same time, he lists renowned international firms that they now represent. He is also grateful for having a strong team that enables them to provide quick and effective responses to international clients, who demand speed, high specialization, and adaptation to their management systems.

Stored in his memory are also the times when his father divided his time between client visits and walking around the desks to share experiences with team members, whom he always knew how to listen to and understand. Héctor also recalls when his father opened an envelope containing a German patent application, and the whole team rushed to celebrate the news because decades ago, it was not common to receive such requests from abroad. As he continues to reminisce, he acknowledges that it was his father who laid the foundations and set the tone that would characterize the firm to this day: warmth and familial atmosphere both inside and outside its doors.

Being at the forefront and adapting to change: technology as an ally

Returning to the present, he affirms that everything is achieved with a good distribution of roles within the team and the flexibility to readjust when necessary or when a case requires a multidisciplinary approach. Rethinking the organizationof the whole firm before each change to adapt to new needs and challenges.

Hector remembers how, not so many years ago, the first hours of Mondays were used to photocopy faxes that arrived from Asia over the weekend, or in an even more distant past, the mail clerk would go around all the desks collecting envelopes that had to be dispatched with registration certificates of trademarks or patents. Thankfully, today everything is digital, and the firm has been paperless for over 15 years, which was a significant competitive advantage when they had to face the pandemic, as they had access to the history of all files from their homes and the sudden change in work mode occurred smoothly.

Héctor acknowledges that being technologically advanced to such an extent is somewhat of a professional vice, as the patents and new technologies department is constantly in contact with innovation, and investing in digitalization systems has always been a priority. He is impressed when he remembers when brand custody was done by reviewing book-format bulletins and noting trademark renewals on notebooks. In less than a generation, all of that is history, and screens have banished all traces of yellowed papers and the noisy typing on mismatched typewriters. Another aspect he highlights is that the activity has been growing in importance in recent years, as many leading companies have assets mostly composed of IP. Content production, software development, esports – so many new areas compared to the traditional world of brands and patents. A challenging present, but one in which the values have remained the same for almost a century: understanding the needs of clients, adapting to them, and providing fast and effective solutions.

Finally, Héctor becomes emotional when recognizing that with the fourth generation already settled in leadership positions, everything seems promising: he looks at his team photo and envisions a future with many challenges and achievements in good company.