Law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek increased its turnover by 10 percent in 2012 while the competition continued to shrink. ‘It was a question of both policy and coincidence’, says Martijn Snoep, managing partner of the firm, speaking at his office in impressive Zuidas office complex The Rock.
You joined De Brauw Blackstone
How did you cope with this?
Westbroek in 1992 and you’re still
We have become more open and we are more
there. Isn’t that an exception to the rule?
flexible when it comes to our clients’ wishes.
Yes, although most of our partners started their
The events of 2009 taught us to focus much more
careers here as well. It’s what makes our firm
on the client. But the fact that we are doing better
unique. We have a policy that provides young
now is not just a result of good policy, it is also a
lawyers with an opportunity to become partners
matter of coincidence: in 2012 many of our regular
and this has a direct effect on our work culture.
clients just happened to need our services more
The firm actively encouraged me to develop and
often than usual.
practice my talents. What will De Brauw Blackstone You also signed the ‘Talent to the top’
Westbroek do to ensure the future
charter that encourages women to
aim for the top jobs. Do you practice
We will try to attract and train talented young
what you preach?
people. That is the best guarantee for future
We have employed an equal number of men
success. If you can do that and teach people
and women for years, but the number of female
to be flexible you will be able to adapt to any
partners is relatively small. Ten out sixty partners
are women. For the last three years we have been encouraging women to consider a partnership and trying to convince them that it is fun and compatible with childcare obligations. It worked. The numbers in terms of new partners evened out immediately in those first three years. It was partly coincidental but we do see that the ambition among women to become partners has increased significantly.
Martijn Snoep studied law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and graduated in 1992. He joined De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in the same year. He became a partner in 2000 and was elected managing partner for four years in 2010. Recently his appointment was extended for another two years. He specialises in European and Dutch competition law.
How does the crisis influence law firms? The big firms in particular have definitely noticed they are not immune to the effects of the economic downturn. Clients have become more critical and demanding.
Text: Jori Spitz • Photography: Wouter van Ierssel
Published on Aug 26, 2013