General Counsel & Vice President (Legal) – OMV Petrom, Romania
1. How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the way you work as a lawyer? What are the key positives and negatives that have emerged out of lockdown?
Most probably after the Covid-19 pandemic people will define various traits of work in general in terms of pre and post pandemic. Activities that were norm or various personal or professional habits are no longer possible. The various restrictions that were and are still in place have as a primary target to limit people interaction. Hence, immediately all work aspects that were defined or enhanced by personal interaction started to suffer. It became immediately quite obvious that communication within the organization and with the outside world has a fundamental role in our day to day and should be a constant focus. In this regard, for lawyers, the ability to be succinct while offering a complete and up to date picture is I think a tool that is becoming more of a tangible asset rather than a standard job description line.
Lockdowns across the various places we operate and our HQ brought forward positive attitudes that maybe sometimes we tend to overlook in normal times, likewise it has pushed us in focusing on what really matters and give us the opportunity to discard what doesn’t. Nonetheless, as everywhere, as more time passes by and consecutive waves of the pandemic hit, we do have to be mindful of the growing frustration and detachment and put in place mechanisms to cope. To conclude with a positive note – tough but we cope better than first expected.
2. Will you and your firm/company continue to use flexible and agile working in the future? Will you reduce the size of your physical office space?
For sure. The benefits of agility and flexibility are there for keeping in the long run. We are not looking at going entirely remote, but we are also not willing to give away the benefits of flexibility, both at individual and company level. Personally, I am quite convinced that for lawyers, consultants and litigators alike, a hybrid between office and home working is the way to go. Medium to long term probably we will reduce our department’s physical office space, however we will also re-design a bit so to stimulate comfortable interaction.
3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis? What has been successful and what has been lacking?
If anyone had any doubt, the current pandemic has made it quite clear that legal tech is a current must. We have fast tracked the full adoption of electronic signature and databases, we’re currently working on deploying bots to automate certain processes and repetitive actions and looking into AI powered dispute resolution and task management tools. Being practically virtual in our work as in house, with the exception of certain court related proceedings, has been a major plus.
4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?
In 10 years legal tech will probably handle most of the low complexity/routine legal work such as standard contracting to various minor disputes, with some impact on the legal work force. However society at large might enjoy the advantages of a more accessible legal service with lower costs. I also do expect that it will expand existing niches in the legal industry or create new ones.
5. Has your firm/company changed its remuneration structure during the crisis? Will the firm/company consider using a “Keystone” fee-sharing or hybrid remuneration model in future?
No. As an in-house team we do not follow a fee remuneration model, but can clearly see the attractive traits of the Keystone model.
6. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years time.
Virtualization and growing international virtual jurisdictions.