Dealing with international law does not always lead to smooth sailing. Cultural barriers can only make things even more sticky. But, the opportunities for an enterprising young lawyer in this field are many.
As a senior associate at global law firm Mayer Brown, Georgina Fabian understood this quite well. She saw a continuous growth in requests from Latin American parties that needed representation in the United States. She felt that a law firm that could meet these needs at affordable prices and that could also lend a personal face to these legal issues was needed.
Georgina left Mayer Brown in 2008 to found the International Business Law Group (INTBLG), a law firm dedicated to ease any communication barriers and promote cultural understanding between United States and Latin American companies and government entities. “We make sure our clients feel we are part of their team and of their company; we aren’t just their legal counsel,” says Georgina.
Georgina Fabian will be one of the guest presenters at this year’s Hispanic Business Expo & HACE Career Conference organized by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement and which will take place August 6 at Navy Pier.
With nine attorneys in Mexico and six in the United States, INTBLG serves as a bridge among different business cultures. They use multi-jurisdictional and cross-cultural skills to overcome what Georgina says is their greatest challenge – to make sure clients understand how business will be conducted differently on a foreign country on a practical and legal level. While United States jurisprudence is based on the common law system (where the law is developed by judges based on prior decisions), Mexico’s is based on civil law (a system where citizens are provided with an accessible and written collection of laws that the judges must follow).
“One of our advantages is that we are able to provide Spanish services to Hispanic-owned businesses or an American business,” says Georgina. “We are able to bridge that gap between the multicultural approach because we have experience dealing with both cultures.”
Born and raised in Mexico, with degrees from the New York University School of Law and the Escuela LIbre de Derecho, among other institutions, Georgina uses her knowledge of diverging and contrasting cultures in dealing with her clients. “Americans are very direct,” says Georgina. “They go to meetings and ask for what they want and say what they are going to comply with. They schedule a specific goal whether it be short or long term…Latin Americans like to get to know one another more and set goals instead of setting direct targets from the beginning.”
She adds that, “I really believe that one of the benefits of the firm is that we understand what their personal and business situation is so we can place ourselves in [their place] and come up with the best solution, not only from a legal but also from a business and financial perspective.” INTBLG gets involved as part of their client’s team so they are able to provide them with preventative solutions.
As someone who facilitates cultural understanding in the business world, Georgina has not always leapt over cultural hurdles the way one would expect. “People in the United Sates conduct a lot [of business] through email,” she laughs. “It was very hard for me to understand that a person sitting in a room next door expected an email from me rather than a knock at their door.” It seems some behavior and habits do translate well across all cultures.