CAPE VERDE: A COUNTRY OPEN TO INVESTMENT – Interview with Dr Carla Monteiro for Pontos de Vista Magazine
1 – Let’s start by talking about Carla Monteiro’s story. We know that you currently have almost 20 years of professional experience, having been appointed by your peers in November last year as President of the Ethics and Discipline Council of the Cape Verde Bar Association. How do you feel about these years that have passed to this day?
It is a great satisfaction to feel the recognition for the work developed over these two decades. I have always viewed my profession with great responsibility and even as part of my essence. In my point of view, law is a profession of constant learning, both due to frequent legislative changes and the evolution of frameworks and the dynamics of society itself. Therefore, with great humility, I invest in my ongoing training in order to provide better service to my clients.
2 – Having a degree in Law – and with countless years of experience more specifically in Commercial Law, Real Estate and Tourism Law, Labor Law, Tax Law, Municipal Law, Spatial Planning, Urban Planning and Administrative Law – what do you like most about your job?
Regardless of the area of Law that I dedicate myself to in each case, what I enjoy most is helping people. Being useful in resolving problems or legal situations, whether simple or complex, is my ultimate goal. The choice of areas of specialization was natural taking into account the interests present on the islands where we operate and the demand of the office, which is why we approach any process with the same determination, seriousness and commitment. CMA is organized into departments with lawyers specialized in each area to provide more efficient assistance to our clients. Our main areas of practice are: real estate law, developments and construction; labor and social security law; corporate law; tax law; general litigation and arbitration; insurance law; family and inheritance law; business recovery and insolvency; administrative and public procurement; and intellectual property and shows.
3- What is certain is that, in October 2008, the Carla Monteiro Law Office – Advogados was born. With what objective did you decide to create your own brand and embark on the world of entrepreneurship? Was it an old dream to have a company with your own identity?
In 2008, the Office was born from a partnership with Dr. Alexandra Pereira, a lawyer who had already practiced law in the area of real estate and tourist developments for over 25 years. Our first focus, which continues to this day, was in the area of real estate and tourism due to the very attractive legal regime for foreign investment in Cape Verde. Various tax and customs benefits are foreseen, as well as incentives of various kinds for those who want to invest in Cape Verde, both in the areas of tourism, health and industry. I can say that Cape Verde is a country open to investment, as there are incentives for both foreigners and nationals, from emigrants to private residents. Thus, we gradually grew by hiring new colleagues, with the CMA brand naturally establishing itself in the market with customer satisfaction and recommendations for our services. My dream has always been to be a respected professional but initially I did not imagine reaching the current size of the CMA, which has eight lawyers, a trainee lawyer and an administrative and financial team. I am proud to see a little of myself in each CMA lawyer, as we are truly a family and the identity reflected in the brand can be seen.
4 – In 2011, partnerships with an international dimension were developed, consolidated in 2015, leading to the creation of the company CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados, Sociedade de Advogados, RL. How significant was this step?
Originally, most of our clients were foreign investors, which is why we felt the need to establish international partnerships with lawyers in various countries around the world in order to provide more complete coverage of our clients’ interests. These partnerships have allowed us to gain a better perspective on comparative law, as well as to increase our networking for a more efficient response to claims with a foreign connection.
5 – Today, 15 years on from the initial Carla Monteiro – Advogados brand and eight years on from CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados, who is your company today? How do you define it?
The CMA is today an organization with national coverage and international recognition. Last October, we celebrated 15 years of existence and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my entire team for the commitment made over all these years to customer interest and satisfaction. As a company, CMA also fulfills its social responsibility, awarding a scholarship to a law student each academic year, and sports, with the sponsorship of sports teams or individual athletes.
6 – Since the first day, CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados has been building a team, with a rigorous hiring process, “targeting only the best, people with character and brilliant minds who can qualify”, as it states. What has this selection approach allowed?
A careful selection is the first step towards forming a competent and dedicated team. However, it is not enough. After the integration of lawyers, they must fit into the CMA profile, with respect for pre-defined principles and values (such as ethics, commitment, dedication, loyalty and excellence in work) as well as follow a continuing training program.
7 – The truth is that the team that makes up this expanding company is made up of a group of competent, intelligent, motivated and honest lawyers. On the one hand, what has this team done for the brand’s history and, on the other, what has the brand done for its people?
The CMA would not exist without its team, made up of lawyers and administrative staff. The secret to the success of any company is the quality and dedication of its human resources, that is, the people who defend its name and brand. The solidarity and companionship that unites the CMA team allows it to overcome challenges and achieve the goals it sets out to achieve. In return, CMA takes care of its team so that they are always motivated, with an adequate salary table and the attribution of benefits that contribute to their well-being and that of their family, in addition to providing “team building” moments for collective synergy.
8 – Speaking in more depth about the objectives that CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados undertakes, one of them is to obtain recognition from its clients for the high degree of professionalism expressed in the work carried out. Is it legitimate to say that this mission has already been successful? What has the company been perpetuating in this sense?
It is not possible to always satisfy all customers, as there are several external factors that influence the results of our work. However, we can say that the balance is positive and we have had good feedback from customers regarding the level of satisfaction. Even if the result obtained is not what the client expected, we strive to ensure that their experience with CMA is good, investing in good treatment, minimizing negative results by presenting alternatives and closely monitoring processes with the client.
9 – We know that the world of law is highly competitive – and it is therefore necessary for brands and companies to have a differentiating attitude. What are the strongest and most distinctive points of CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados?
CMA invests in the specialization of its team in order to provide effective coverage in the different areas it focuses on, which it does in several languages for the greater convenience of its customers. I also highlight the availability of the entire team to provide the assistance requested by the customer at any time. Finally, I point out building and maintaining a relationship of trust with our customers as a strong point for customer loyalty.
10 – Due to the constant changes in the world, there are several challenges that sectors currently face. In the field of law, and more specifically in the areas where CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados operates, what would you say are the biggest challenges posed by the market?
I consider the biggest challenges to be updating legislation, adapting laws to new realities, and clients’ trust in their correct application by the competent public authorities. However, I highlight, without a doubt, the slowness of justice that is still very present in the main districts of the country as the biggest challenge in law. Faster justice prevents non-compliance, encourages transactions and penalizes offenders. When justice is slow, there is a feeling of revolt and distrust in the legal system that affects the economy and the business world.
11 – Regarding, for example, emerging technologies, do you consider that the Law has been able to embrace this challenge? How has CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados innovated its processes?
In terms of new technologies, there has been much discussion about the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to law. In some areas of law, automation can work. AI is a technology that allows systems and machines to simulate human thinking, but it will never replace a lawyer, as empathy and connection with the client will always be the differentiating factor. I understand that lawyers should use new technologies as administrative support to allow them to provide a faster and more effective service, reducing the margin of error, especially in repetitive tasks. From an early stage, CMA invested in the digitalization of processes, archiving documents in the Cloud and acquiring process management software for better control of these, faster response to the client regarding the update of their matters as well as remote access to documents from anywhere. Furthermore, eventually in some areas, it will be possible to use AI for brief online consultations, such as on a law firm’s website, subject to developments with face-to-face consultations with a lawyer.
12 – However, from adversity, opportunities almost always arise. So, what opportunities have emerged in the market, providing the necessary impetus for brands to grow?
The economic, social and natural calamities that the world has faced in the last four years, despite the resulting difficulties, have also created business opportunities in Cape Verde, such as the increase in digital nomads with the development of the local economy; and a greater demand for foreign investment boosted by the country’s existing security, its strategic location and the incentives and benefits provided for in its legal system.
13 – In view of all the matters mentioned, we easily understand that Carla Monteiro is a Woman with (fulfilled) dreams. What do you still need to accomplish, whether on a personal or professional level?
There’s a saying: “Man does not live by dreams alone”. But I believe that man should live by dreams. I still have many more dreams to fulfil, both personally and professionally. I turn my dreams into goals and outline strategies to fulfil them. If I fail at one of them, I redesign it and try again. A wise (client) once told me: “Never give up! Always persist!”
14 – Regarding CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados, what new developments will 2024 bring to the brand? What objectives were set for the next, new, 12 months?
I have always been very cautious about growth, but there is a need to support our customers to cover their needs. Along this path, the CMA has two major objectives for 2024: moving its headquarters to a new office on the island of Sal and opening an office in the capital, Cidade da Praia, on the island of Santiago, leaving offices on the islands of Sal, Boa Vista and Santiago. The new headquarters will be larger, with an innovative and non-traditional design for law firms, but welcoming and with diverse potential – we will have a work space dedicated to our non-resident clients.
15 – What end of year message would you like to leave to the team, clients and partners of CMA – Carla Monteiro & Associados?
I wish you all happy holidays and may it be a period of reflection to be grateful for the good things that happened to you in the year 2023 and may the prospect of a new year inspire you to dream and believe in a year 2024 full of successes, joy, peace and much health. It is said that “The future is a blank book and each of us has the pen to write it in our hands”. I would add that the future starts today, so taking action, rather than waiting for things to happen, is my advice. Happy 2024!