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Ana María Yuri


Inspiring Women in Law Q&A: Ana María Yuri - Bofill Mir Abogados  

LATIN COUNSEL has spoken with Ana María Yuri, Real Estate and Corporate Partner at leading Chilean firm Bofill Mir Abogados.
She is one of the first women in Chile´s history to have been appointed managing partner of a law firm, and one of only three Chilean lawyers recognized in the elite IFLR Women Leaders 2022 ranking (along with Patricia Silberman of Carey and Myriam Barahona of Morales & Besa). Such recognition, based on a rigorous methodology, highlights women with outstanding reputations in their respective practice areas who hold leadership positions at their Firms.
Ana María has dedicated more than twenty years to corporate law, and she is a Law Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez.

LATIN COUNSEL: What made you decide to become a lawyer?

Ana María Yuri: I thought that this career would allow me to develop a versatile professional future, a platform that would allow me to develop in different areas of my interest. I was attracted to the idea of a comprehensive training in different areas of social sciences, applicable in the public and private world.

LC: As an inspiring woman leader, how would you describe the evolution of women in the legal sector in Chile since you started your professional career? Are we moving towards equality?

Ana María:
There are advances. We are in a process of evolution, but there is still a long way to go. It is a matter of generating culture and awareness, establishing policies that allow more women to dare to take on the challenge, and that is a slow process. However, it is prudent to say that there is some interest in moving forward with concrete measures and actions, which are gradually showing results, but more important than that, there is an evolution towards inclusiveness, with an increasing number of people and sectors showing involvement, compared to a few years ago.  

LC: Since you became a Partner, what have you enjoyed most about your experience? Have you encountered any major challenges?

Ana María: I would highlight three dimensions that have been the most challenging and enriching.

Regarding the legal market, the challenge of adding new partners, of being part of the first generation of women lawyers who began to organize themselves to make visible the gender gaps present in our field, has been very important. The challenge of integrating younger women lawyers in leadership positions is very important to me.

In this context, I would like to highlight that, in 2016, I was appointed managing partner. This was a relevant challenge that the legal media and benchmarking publications made quite visible, as a way to promote this type of decisions. Having been one of the first managing partners of the legal industry in Chile and setting a precedent in this sense is something that will remain in my professional history and in BM’s, and I hope that it will help more women lawyers to seek and dare to take these opportunities, as well as to visualize themselves assuming these positions, and, at the same time, to see their organizations promoting them.

The second is related to the direct responsibility with the client, understanding their business, their apprehensions, transmitting trust, and thus, building lasting relationships that add up to both organizations. 

Finally, in the same way, I value what my relationship with corporate development has given me, the sense of understanding the business, adding new ideas, assuming and forming new leaderships, and understanding management and its different dimensions, among others.

LC: What can you tell us about the culture and leadership structure of Bofill Mir Abogados?

Ana María: One of our main challenges is to generate the capacity to adapt to change as a priority. Along with that, we are focused on providing a robust training for our lawyers in different areas, with special emphasis on ethics, excellent client service and comprehensive training – something in which we have been focusing a lot on and working hard for in recent times.

In terms of leadership, we are working on building an increasingly horizontal model that allows us to promote integration and a sense of belonging. We are managing this through the active participation of our lawyers from day one, counting on strong support and involvement from the partners and leaders of our different practice areas. With this, we seek that our lawyers develop their professional and leadership skills from the beginning of their careers.

We have taken very seriously the concerns and desires of the new generations, both through our lawyers who are just starting their careers and through the participants of the winter and summer internship programs. This is because we understand the importance of knowing what they are looking for in order to adapt our structures to the new ways of working.
LC: How would you define the firm’s diversity and inclusion strategy?

Ana María: Proactive, transparent and genuine.
Proactive, because we are looking for the instances and policies that allow us to continue consolidating and systematizing our efforts in this sense. We even have defined spaces to deal with these issues and constantly monitor new ways of getting involved.
Transparent, because we have been explicit in stating the challenges ahead of us and our gaps and areas that might have needed improvement, even if at times we have had to touch on uncomfortable issues.
And genuine, because we are convinced that diversity and inclusion effectively add to our corporate development and the environment, and ours is an honest commitment. Therefore, our challenge is to persevere in this line, and prevent this effort from being wasted.

LC: Can you tell us about the firm’s growth strategy?

Ana María: We are executing a very ambitious growth plan that combines important efforts in corporate development with new appointments, new talent, new specialties, training and technology, among others; all in the context of internationalization, outreach, and always cementing relations within our areas of interest.

With this in mind, we have intensified our participation in international networks and our relations with foreign firms, an effort supported by our partner Francisco Ducci, who is based in New York and who has given rise to a number of new opportunities for the Firm.
In addition, we are strengthening our proximity to Asia through a very interesting project that we are close to announcing, among other initiatives in this direction. To define the plan, we have gone through several stages that include rethinking different aspects of our activity, taking into consideration the concerns of our team and clients, and learning about experiences in other countries, among others. For the plan´s implementation, we originally relied on external consultancy, and as we have been progressing we have continued to carry out these actions through team effort and internal leadership.

Throughout this process, having a fully professionalized and consolidated administration, and having had the vision to understand its importance early on (the professionalization of law firms is a relatively new phenomenon) has allowed us to develop a comprehensive corporate strategy in this area, instead of simply providing reactive responses.

LC: What do you consider to be the greatest challenges in the region?

Ana María: Regarding law firms, I think that continuing to work on internationalization and the professionalization of services and administration are two major challenges, because they are two aspects that contribute a lot to standardization, and, with that, to the fluidity in our communication and understanding.

As a way to address the need to keep promoting relationships with our peers and generate opportunities of greater collaboration and learning, this year we have launched an initiative that consists in opening our doors to receive lawyers from firms in the region and vice versa, with a focus on young lawyers, and, in a first phase, mainly focused on Latin America. This has a number of different objectives and advantages, and is a very efficient way to stay connected to the legal markets in the Latin American region.

LC: What advice would you give to the new generation of female lawyers?

Ana María: Working life presents enormous challenges and opportunities; it is important to take the time to visualize where you are, where you want to go, and dare to take on the necessary challenges.

Fulfilling your professional goals, which is roughly the equivalent to the concept of "career development" will be determined by the decisions we make and by our willingness and attitude to achieve them. Progress and growth do not necessarily come from external sources, they are the result of internal work that drives us towards what we want. This is why I mention attitude, because the career we build depends to a great extent on the way in which we deal with the challenges that will take us to the next stage.

Finally, I think it is important to keep in mind that professional life is intertwined at almost every point with our personal life, and this has repercussions in both areas. Therefore, it is important to analyze what our priorities are, and how we can best reconcile both spheres in the best way possible.


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