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Varnavas Playbell, founder/director

Varnavas Playbell, of the newly founded Varnavas Playbell & Co. LLC, adds a fresh and vibrant face to the legal industry.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Varnavas Playbell & Co. LLC from your competitors?

Our main competitive advantage is drive! We are a newly founded corporate law firm with skilled and knowledgeable young lawyers, not entitled by any lineage, who are hungry to showcase their skills and establish themselves in the legal market. For that reason, we serve clients faster, better and we do more for less with just as much skill.

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

I anticipate that we will see a significant growth in “financial services” and particularly fund related work. This, on the one end, is due to the number of tax incentives and other more recent legislative proposals aimed at making Cyprus an attractive jurisdiction and, on the other end, due to the imminent changes in the financial services industry caused by the Brexit which may lead some clients to seek solutions in alternative jurisdictions within the EU outside the conventional ones, who are already saturated and quite expensive. Relevant to financial services, “compliance” is another area set to experience growth as a result of exponential changes to the applicable legal and regulatory framework including the OECD rules on automatic exchange of information. This can also lead to a rise in “corporate restructuring” and specifically trimming down on obsolete and complicated corporate structures. Finally, the return of the Cyprus economy to positive growth coupled with the very attractive, recently improved, naturalization by investment program will likely cause a continuous rise in property development and property transactions.

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

As a newly founded firm we are building rather than changing our firm to benefit clients. The firm is built on solid foundations of prevailing best practices adopted by established industry leaders but at our core we have ingenuity and innovation in sight and we aspire to evolve the way legal services are provided to clients by, inter alia, utilizing the latest technological advancements and tools. For instance, from day 1 our firm is continuously building a high-tech, bespoke, sophisticated, knowledge management system which is, and will increasingly be, a vital tool for our lawyers in delivering on our premise of speed and quality of service for great value.

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

Absolutely! There is a saying that every business is a tech business. This may be true for legal services as well, even more so in this era of artificial intelligence, big data and other game changers. Our firm is built with technology at its core and it can be said that our office is practically anywhere with a laptop and internet service. With cloud based servers providing remote access anywhere, anytime, featured with industry leading cybersecurity, document management systems with versioning and shared view, state of the art knowledge management systems, e-libraries, internet phone lines, IM’s, and the use of many other technologies, widely adopted or bespoke, we achieve effective communication with clients, responsiveness, speed, efficiency and quality of service but also lower administrative costs and in turn more competitive fees, overall adding value to the client.

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

We pride ourselves for having creativity, commercial awareness and bespoke drafting skills and the following example is a testament to that. Our firm quite recently structured a multi-million Euro investment in a new entrepreneurial venture not through equity or finance but by through a bespoke form of long term licensing. This solution was suggested and originally created by our firm taking into account our client’s interests and preferences, counterparty parameters and relevant external factors. It is no overstatement that perhaps this deal would have not been feasible for our client and would have never reached fruition had it not been for our firm’s input.

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

Clients are more concerned with quality of service, promptness and costs however stability and strategic direction are certainly important attributes, especially valued by repeat clients and referrals who are business associates. In three years’ time, I see the firm on its way to becoming an established and reputable corporate law firm in the Cyprus legal market, with its own fresh, youthful and evolutionary character, having the personnel, client base and a professional network to match that of firms who have been operating in this industry for decades. My true vision is client commendations for services rendered and true value added. Growth will come as a result.

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