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CMS – A Truly International Law Firm

Annual Review 2017-2018

June 2018

An interview with Duncan Weston,
Executive Partner at CMS

What does your role as Executive Partner entail?

I am part of the CMS Legal Services management team in Frankfurt, with responsibility for global development. I spend almost every week of my life on a plane, spearheading our growth into new markets and ensuring the consolidation of our presence in existing jurisdictions.

What are CMS’s expansion plans for the next 1 – 3 years?

The US is a key priority as it is a mature legal market where we are not currently present. Finding the right firm here will be a transformational move for CMS. In developing markets, we are particularly focused on increasing our presence
in Africa and India. At the same time, we are keeping up the pace of integration of our existing member firms and joint venture offices. We are very protective of our brand and ensuring the highest levels of quality control throughout the organisation is paramount. It’s not just about footprint and numbers.

What are the most important cultural factors that you look for when talking to law firms?

Culture is the most important factor in deciding which local firms we would like to join CMS. Our culture is built on values and behaviours that include mutual respect, client-centricity and an appetite to innovate, as well as a passion for diversity and inclusion. CMS is built on autonomy at the local level combined with a platform whereby like-minded firms become part of a major global organisation. If you are not aligned culturally from the outset, then a deal will never work out.

What’s the most surprising situation you’ve found yourself in when travelling the world for CMS?

Last year, I travelled to Africa to meet with the top business law firm in Kenya. After meeting the firm’s management, I was invited to the partners’ dining room and was treated as a very important guest. It soon dawned on me however that there was some confusion as to who I actually was. It turned out that, in Kenya, CMS stands for the Church Missionary Society and many of the partners thought I was a clergyman.

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