Kyrie EvagoraKyri Evagora has recently been appointed Reed Smith’s Asia-Pacific managing partner. Stepping into the role at a time when COVID-19 has turned the legal industry upside down, Evagora tells ALB the firm is looking ahead, while ensuring it innovates internally to meet the current challenges.

 

ALB: You’ve spent some 23 years at Reed Smith. What is the secret behind your longevity with the firm?

EVAGORA: Excellence, innovation, collaboration and inclusion are core values that underpin our law firm. My longevity at Reed Smith comes down to our commitment to these values and the tireless efforts of my colleagues to adhere to them. On a personal level, I am blessed to have worked in different and exciting places around the world within our firm and, thus, with so many people. It has kept me challenged and on my toes!

ALB: What are some of your big picture priorities for the role, and what changes are you looking to carry out?

EVAGORA: I have some big shoes to fill, and I am still learning from my predecessor, Denise Jong. We are fortunate that our global business is holding up, and I was not expecting to make drastic changes, to be honest. However, the economic and regulatory landscape in the Asia-Pacific region has shifted quickly, influenced by COVID-19. With so many organisations needing to change the way they do business in this era; we must move with that current to be responsive to clients. Restrictions on travel this year have had a silver lining by giving me the time and space to listen and reflect. I have spent a large part of my time listening to our colleagues and our clients alike, figuring out what our clients need and how to ensure we keep delivering to the highest standards. The feedback has been tremendous, and it is informing us as to how we shape ourselves in the future.

ALB: What’s on your immediate to-do list for the Asia-Pacific market, and the firm’s office here?

EVAGORA: Bedding down the outstanding talent we have in the region and making sure that we are deploying and redeploying our teams effectively, efficiently and inclusively. You will shortly see some announcements about our commitment to growth opportunities in the region.

ALB: You’ve received recognition for your LGBTQ+ advocacy work. Can you tell us about your D&I strategy for Asia?

EVAGORA: I am proud of our track record. We have been progressive in our approach to D&I for decades, but there is always more to be done. Whether they arise in Asia, EME or the Americas, inequality that affects our people and communities matters to us, irrespective of where any of us is based. So, the starting point for our D&I strategy is that it is a global and comprehensive one. That means staying engaged with what matters to our colleagues wherever each one of us may be based. I understand that within Asia there are differences and nuances in the types of inequality that affect us. The issues may well be different, but they exist nevertheless, and they need to be addressed. We are working right now with our global D&I team in reviewing the D&I challenges that relate specifically to Asia and what we are doing about them — including through leadership.

ALB: COVID-19 has impacted almost every firm, and Reed Smith has rolled out a temporary hiring freeze for professional staff in its wake. What has the COVID-19 experience been like for the Asia team so far, and what lessons will you take away from it?

EVAGORA: We reacted quickly to the situation. Our global workforce was able to work remotely on extremely short notice. The dedication and professionalism shown by our people have been impressive; our levels of service remain as high as ever. Our teams here were less impacted than we had anticipated. We were busy helping to guide our clients during a sustained period of firefighting, and our efforts have helped to further deepen relationships during this difficult period. The single most important lesson learned is that we must “evolve and adapt.” The legal ser vices industry has endured and continues to endure what is surely the most difficult and challenging episode in living memory. Like all businesses, the ability to evolve and adapt what we do and how we do it is now more important than ever. This is hard to define because we are still going through it. Clearly, we can already see that it includes adapting ourselves to an acceleration in the use and application of information and technology, a meaningful collective effort around our client relationship as well as the re-tooling, re-training or re-deploying of our lawyers to meet the changes in our clients’ needs.

 

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