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Stelian Garofil, managing partner

Managing partner Stelian Garofil explains how Dragne & Asociatii SCPA is adapting to clients’ changing needs

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Dragne & Asociatii SCPA from your competitors?

The legal market in Romania is well-structured, populated with several “actors” who are capable of providing high-quality legal services. In order to fulfill our purpose of maintaining a leading position on the Romanian market, our firm has pursued and attained the goal of providing continuously improved services. This preoccupation appeared as a prerequisite of high quality services, both in light of the evolution of the society, and of the ever-changing necessities of our clients. One of the main features which confers us a certain degree of distinctiveness among our competitors is the organization of multidisciplinary teams of lawyers: specialized lawyers on substantive law, skilled in contracts’ negotiation and experienced litigators, able to identify even the lowest risks from the outset. Such teams approach the transactions entrusted by the client both from the perspective of the main legal issues at stance, as well as from the perspective of the adjacent economic or social matters which may alter the very purpose pursued by the client through the respective transaction.

Likewise, having in view that, inside the legal market, the professionalism and, implicitly, the quality of legal services is mainly influenced by the prompt adjustment to the newly enacted or amended legislation, our firm has implemented an internal program of legal training. During these seminars, both the partners and the associates organize lectures regarding new enactments or amendments in the national, European or international legislation, as well as distinctive court decisions. Such approach, initially organized within our firm, has been successfully implemented also in the relationships with our clients, our lawyers organizing at present lectures for the legal departments of large national and multinational companies.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

The Litigation & Arbitration, Restructuring & Insolvency, Enforcement and Banking & Finance practice will continue to represent the main part of our practice. Within the last years, our firm’s activity in the economic crimes field has also developed, bearing legitimate expectations that such area will maintain its growing tendency throughout the next year.

The economic growth of over 5% realized by Romania in 2016 will encourage both the development of the existing investments, as well as the emergence of new ones, which will inevitably lead to an increase in the M&A transactions department, thus following the ascendant path of such field, manifested also in 2015 and 2016.

Moreover, bearing in mind the fact that Romania has displayed a deficit in the previous years in the field of public acquisitions, considering the numerous projects subject to public debates, we may estimate a growth of the services to be provided in such domain.

What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

The main concern of our firm under this aspect is the humane and professional quality of our lawyers. In this respect, our firm has and is displaying enhanced attention both to the level of professional training, as well as to the relationships between the lawyers, striving to maintain a friendly and relaxed environment, in which the lawyers may successfully perform their activities. Thus, the amicable and fruitful relationships between the lawyers have led to an increase in the quality of legal services provided, such aspect being profitable to our clients.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

At present, technology forms an integrative part of everyday life, thus such cannot be missing from a lawyer’s activity. Throughout this year, we have managed to integrally implement several custom-made innovative software, allowing to check, in real time (that is to say, at the relevant moment of its introduction), tender procedures, new court files, changes in the status of the companies, insolvency alerts etc. This is time and resources effectively and decreases significantly the costs of the client. In such manner, we manage, on the one side, to identify commercial opportunities, to immediately initiate or paralyze legal proceedings, and, on the other side, to promptly inform the client, in order to rapidly establish the business strategy to be followed. Thus, the latest technology helps us provide high level, cost effective services and, in the same time, ensures an enhanced protection of the client’s rights and interests.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

We have dealt recently with several significant cases in which our services added value to our clients’ businesses. One may note the successful outcome of the Micula v. Romania ICSID arbitration case, which has been broadly mediatized. Our team, under the coordination of foreign law firms, has secured the success of claims amounting to over EUR 170 million against the Romanian state. This was the first time when an arbitral tribunal confirmed and awarded damages of such value to foreign investors, in a dispute with the Romanian State, as a result of Romania’s breaches of Bilateral Investment Treaty.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms - where do you see the firm in three year's time?

The stability of our law firm has been positively regarded by our clients, having in view that we have established continuous collaboration relationships, ever since our firm has been established in 2010. Nonetheless, our tight collaboration does not limit the expectations of our clients for better and better legal services.

Ever since our law firm was founded, in 2010, we have decided to develop our business in line with our clients’ businesses. Looking back to the pattern of the last years, we estimate that, within the next three years, to double the size of our team and the number of projects dealt with.

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