Viale: “We are looking for legal teams that are highly technically qualified but also flexible and innovative”

Andrea Viale, Idealista’s first global head of legal, reveals the company’s biggest legal issues and what she looks for in external counsel.

Publicado lundi, avril 11 2022
Viale: “We are looking for legal teams that are highly technically qualified but also flexible and innovative”

LL: What are some of the biggest legal issues you deal with as in-house counsel?

Viale: Currently our main legal issues are related to regulatory changes, both in matters that affect our underlying activity (the real estate sector) and direct activity in the digital world. For example, in recent years various regulatory changes have been introduced in all the jurisdictions in which we operate (Spain, Italy, and Portugal) in relation to access to housing, the energy efficiency of buildings and, improving the information provided to consumers in the process of buying/renting a property. These regulatory changes have been applied to platforms such as Idealista that act as advertising channels and complementary players in the sector.

 

Since 2018, privacy issues and their impact on our day-to-day business have been an important focus for our legal team. In addition, we partner with the company’s other business areas to cover the legal needs of all Idealista products and services, from design to public launch.

 

Idealista has seen an enormous amount of growth since you joined in 2017. What sort of adjustments has the legal department had to make because of that and what have you learned in that time?

In the last five years, Idealista has doubled in number of employees and the legal team has grown proportionally. Currently, we are a team of six providing legal services for all of Idealista’s companies in all jurisdictions. During this time, we have also created new teams focused on particular subjects, such as regulatory compliance.

 

Likewise, we have incorporated new automated processes to be able to manage the volume of work more efficiently by relying on technology. We have also expanded the pool of external advisors with whom we work to cover new needs.

 

During this period, I have been lucky enough to have a global and very complete vision of all the business aspects of Idealista. This has allowed me to deepen my knowledge in other areas, such as finance, and immerse myself in the business strategy. The greatest lesson from these last few years is to understand how each person is a key piece of the great puzzle that is Idealista.

 

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far at Idealista?

My greatest achievement has been creating the legal team that we have today. The legal area started with me in 2017 and we have created a department from scratch that has the processes, structure, and support necessary to service more than 1,100 employees. I would also highlight the opportunity to participate in Idealista’s largest M&A transaction to date, which took place in 2020 when the company was acquired by EQT. At the time of the deal, it was the largest acquisition of an internet company in Spain.

 

What do you expect will be the biggest challenges for your department in the next year?

In the coming year we have several challenges ahead in the regulatory field, mainly monitoring and preparing for the changes in digital platforms that are occurring at a Europe-wide level. In addition, we will continue to support the M&A team help in the integration/creation of new businesses within the group.

 

 

What do you look for when selecting outside counsel?

We are looking for legal teams that are highly technically qualified but also flexible and innovative, who have a business vision and can work hand-in-hand with us. In my opinion, it is key that external lawyers understand our business, the sector, and the implications of their recommendations as they are implemented by the company in its projects and services.

It is also important that they be transparent about their fees from the beginning in order to ensure that both parties are aligned in terms of our expectations about service and price.