After finishing law school, I was a bit bored in Ottawa, I must admit. I wanted to learn another language while doing my articling. Through a friend, I knew of (successful) business lawyer Juan Carlos Grosso from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I called him many, many times, kept sending him my resumé, and finally I got him on the phone.
I said, “I want to develop international skills, I want to learn from working on big transactions. Can I please have an internship with you?” Two weeks later, I jumped on a plane and was in Buenos Aires learning the Spanish language.
(Mr. Grosso) really took me under his wing. I stayed almost a year in Argentina. That’s really where I learned to develop relationships with people.
One of the first deals I did in Argentina was with an Indian public company from Mumbai selling (its) assets. One of the buyers’ bankers was JPMorgan from New York.
We were negotiating for 36 hours in the boardroom. We stopped to take a shower, slept for two hours, came back and signed the documents. In these scenarios, it’s the thrill of getting the deal done (that keeps you going). We’re talking about millions of dollars. I learned a lot in these transactions.
If you go to a meeting in Argentina, in the first 45 minutes you don’t talk about business. You talk about your wife, your kids, personal stuff. You need to develop a rapport. When I came back to Ottawa and started to do that, people thought I was totally crazy.
If you go to a meeting in Argentina, in the first 45 minutes you don’t talk about business. You talk about your wife, your kids, personal stuff. You need to develop a rapport. When I came back to Ottawa and started to do that, people thought I was totally crazy. -
I decided to create my own firm. When a lot of people start a firm, they put their name on the door for ego’s purposes. Being an entrepreneur, it doesn’t really matter to me. I named it HazloLaw. Hazlo means “do it” in Spanish, because entrepreneurs are doers, they take action.
We’re a boutique firm. It’s like the movie Jerry Maguire: fewer clients, more attention. We’re there for the client. We work with private companies from zero to $50 million in revenues. We represent several mining companies, bridging the gap between Ontario firms and the mining companies in Argentina in which they invest.
HazloLaw will celebrate its first anniversary in a month. Now there are seven of us. My mentor (Mr. Grosso) is one of the lawyers. We have a presence in Ottawa, Montreal and Buenos Aires and we’re looking to expand. I’m talking to two lawyers to bring them on board.
We intend to stay small, but maybe open offices across Canada. One thing that’s not going to change is the level of responsiveness. North America is really cold in my mind, from a business perspective. In a world where people always run, run, run, to take the time to sit down and have a true conversation with a business owner, I think that’s what people appreciate from us. It’s all about the relationship. It’s a totally different approach to life and business.