Insight into the restructuring department of BBLM Avocats with Thomas Gagossian
Thomas Gagossian, a Partner at BBLM Avocats has given us an insight into the inner workings of their restructuring department and the significant roles within this. BBLM Avocats has grown in numbers and expertise over the years with a strong involvement in their cases as Thomas informs us they take care to understand their clients’ needs, to provide them with excellent solutions. In this interview you will find industry knowledge and advice for companies who may need professional assistance from the restructuring department.
Thomas, you work within the restructuring department of BBLM Avocats, can you explain to us what the roles for this department include and what responsibilities you hold?
The restructuring department is made up of 3 partners: Bernard Bouquet, Remy Gomez and myself, as well as Mahe Vicente and Sophie Mateo. The department works for local and national SMEs and ETIs. We have worked, frequently in conjunction with other firms, with Bourbon, SNCM, Alteo, Minelli and Alinéa, among others. Most of our work is on the debtors’ side, but we also work alongside investment funds, both upstream in amicable proceedings and in the context of insolvency proceedings. Bernard Bouquet is one of the founders of the firm and has also had a highly recognised practice in corporate. Rémy Gomez began his career with Maurice Lantourne, a very well-known French lawyer, and I started out in financing before very quickly turning to restructuring. We cover all the aspect of a restructuring matter and also litigation issues related to this matter.
In my opinion, the key word is anticipation. It’s indisputable that the sooner difficulties are dealt with, the greater the chances of success.
Your department is made up of three partners, including you and two associates, how does your team dynamic work, can you tell us how you utilise everyone’s skills within your department and how working with a closer, more intimate team can be beneficial?
Inside the team, we do not have a set pattern for allocating and managing cases, and we work indifferently with any particular member. We encourage discussion relating to the problems encountered within the cases and try to be as agile and adaptable as possible according to the needs and developments of the projects.
What advice would you give a company which is facing difficulty and may need to restructure, how should they handle this?
In my opinion, the key word is anticipation. It’s indisputable that the sooner difficulties are dealt with, the greater the chances of success. Managers often have a very poor image of out-of-court procedures, equating them with insolvency procedures, and are therefore reluctant to use them, at the expense of effective handling of their difficulties.
What is it that sets BBLM Avocats apart from other law firms and how has the firm advanced over the years, what positive changes have you witnessed to create an even better firm for the clients?
BBLM started with 4 lawyers and we now have more than 50 lawyers and around 70 overall. We want to continue to grow but in a coherent, considered way and by creating synergies with the sole aim of continuing to meet the current and future needs of our clients. One of the elements of our DNA is strong involvement in cases and understanding of our clients’ needs by trying to provide the most comprehensive solutions possible. Customers expect agility and responsiveness in the solutions provided to them and understanding of their challenges and potential risks. We therefore strive to be creative while remaining pragmatic and consistent with the client’s situation. It could sound commonplace but this is our core value.
Can you tell us about a time you worked on a project and were able to help the clients successfully restructure their business, what is the key factor to a company being able to recover?
As mentioned above, one of the keys to the success of a file is the anticipation beyond, I would say that it is necessary to get transparency in the exchanges with our client and a high responsiveness of its teams. We know that these difficult times are a source of tension for the manager and his teams but we must be able to adopt a crisis organization while not destabilizing the operational activity of the company.
The support of a lawyer specialising in restructuring is also fundamental to the success of the case, as he or she will be able to guide you through the strategic and legal options.
Do you often have to work with other departments within BBLM Avocats and how do you efficiently work with other teams to secure a positive outcome for your clients?
Handling cases involving several departments is part of the firm’s culture. We have a corporate, employment law, tax, litigation, commercial law, intellectual property and competition and distribution department. Either at the outset, we are able to mobilise different departments if necessary, or during the course of a case, depending on a specific need, another department is able to act quickly. This enables the customer to obtain all the answers required by his case in a unified and coordinated manner.
How should a company protect and prepare themselves before having to reach out for support to restructure and what are the mistakes that directors often make when failing to recognise their need for professional advice?
Once again, anticipation is crucial, and managers must quickly draw the necessary conclusions from warning signs. Managers often think that opting for this type of procedure is an admission of failure, when on the contrary it is very often the appropriate solution to temporary difficulties. The support of a lawyer specialising in restructuring is also fundamental to the success of the case, as he or she will be able to guide you through the strategic and legal options. Recently, at the end of a meeting with some banking partners, the manager said to me “I’ve just realised how useful and beneficial the support of a lawyer is. If I’d been on my own, I wouldn’t have dealt with my difficulties”…”