Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had varying degrees of impact on industries across Denmark, what if anything did the firm learn from the crisis about the nature of contemporary legal work in the country?
We learned that contemporary legal work in Denmark has become highly digitalized and that we were able to continue operations without any notable productivity losses. I am really impressed at how well we, as a firm, from one day to another have managed to adapt successfully to the new reality. That has only been possible because all my colleagues have taken on huge responsibility and demonstrated flexibility, adaptability and inventiveness in response to the new work situation. In addition, our computer systems and digital tools have been performing exceptionally well during our work-from-home periods and have enabled us to maintain operations and our high level of service to clients while simultaneously preserving the team spirit among colleagues even though we had to work apart from each other during a rather long period.
I have learned that our organisation is highly flexible. I have also learned that our employees are prepared to take on enormous responsibility and are very understanding. But I have also learned how important it is for the person in charge to be much more visible in such situations.
In recent years, there has been a digital transformation amongst Danish law firms. Has your firm implemented any technological changes recently to benefit clients?
Digitalisation has been one of our strategic commitments for many years. We have developed many client-facing solutions, which are being continuously optimised by our competent IT experts in close cooperation with our knowledge management experts. Also, together with our clients we develop specific digital solutions adapted to the needs of the relevant clients.
Digitalisation is and remains a key priority in the services that we offer our clients. We are the law firm in Denmark with the highest number of client-facing digital solutions.
In a legal market as small as Denmark’s, what have you found to be the best way to recruit and, even more importantly, retain leading young talent?
We have a targeted approach to attracting and retaining the very best talent – for example by means of our EXPECT employee development programme, which focuses on development, dialogue and balance.
Our EXPECT programme features, among other things, our internal project management course, Kromann Reumert’s mini MBA, and EXPECT – Leadership for the future. In addition, we have introduced new flexible working initiatives, including opportunities to work from home and to have a four-day working week.
The employee initiatives are an investment in the development and job satisfaction of our employees while simultaneously being key elements in attracting the brightest talent to Kromann Reumert. At Kromann Reumert, new young employees get an employer supporting their development, lots of personal and professional development, a corporate spirit from day 1, a tutor and a unique opportunity to become one of Denmark’s leading business lawyers and to work for the best clients.
Over the past three years Kromann Reumert has been in the top three most attractive employers for law students in Denmark.
Year on year, foreign direct investment into Denmark continues to rise, impacting several if not all practice areas. How do you believe a continuation of this trend will affect domestic firms in the short- and medium-term?
Domestic law firms will be affected mainly in two ways, I think. A continued rise in foreign direct investments will present growth opportunities for firms such as our that display true international competencies and expertise. It is also likely to lead to introduction in Denmark of a cross-sectoral screening system of foreign direct investments. The Danish Government is expected to submit a specific proposal to the Danish Parliament in 2020/2021 introducing FDI regulations in Denmark, which currently has no such cross-sectoral screening system. For Danish businesses, investors and advisers, this means that certain transactions in the future will be subject to both notification and approval. This development will have a significant impact on the way we handle certain transactions in Denmark, just as FDI regulation already has done in cases where we assist Danish businesses in acquisitions, etc. abroad.
We have therefore decided to be “first mover” within this area in Denmark and have dedicated significant resources to develop this practice area and set up a team of specialist partners focussing on this new area of law in Denmark.
Are there any sectors which have become new areas of focus for the firm?
We will continue to focus strongly on the green transition. The corona epidemic has obviously curbed green initiatives. It is important, however, that European economies contribute to promoting green investments. The transition needed to achieve the climate targets will require investments and introduction of proper incentive schemes.
Other than that, we will continue to focus on areas such as Life Science, the financial sector, the real estate sector and P/E.
Since becoming managing partner, what’s surprised you most about running a firm?
What has surprised me the most is how enriching it is to have the privilege of being in daily contact and interactions with the entire organisation and the professionalism our entire organisation displays. It is also very satisfying to be involved in determining the strategic direction of the firm together with the partner group.
How has your role/involvement in client-facing work changed since becoming managing partner?
It has right from the beginning been my ambition to be able to maintain involvement in cases and the contact to clients while at the same time performing the managing partner position. Of course my involvement in client-facing work has been reduced but fortunately I manage to also have client and case involvement on a day-to-day basis.
Cases and clients are of course important to me – it is the core of what we do as a law firm and as lawyers. I also believe that my performance as a managing partner will benefit from being engaged in the daily work together with all partners and other employees. It basically gives you hands-on experience with how the organisation supports the client services that we provide. I am convinced that this helps in my decision making as managing partner.
What advice would you give to the next generation of partners ready to rise in the ranks?
We are operating in a highly competitive market, and competition is tough – we need to be sharp, and we need to constantly improve our skills and talents. However, as a young lawyer you need to be more than just skilled in law and talented within your field. You also need to have a strong commercial understanding and managerial skills. You gain and develop those skills best through a dedicated, focussed and intense effort – just as in any other competitive profession.
What does diversity and inclusion mean to you? And, is D&I difficult in your jurisdiction?
D&I is very important and means quite a lot to us. More than half – exactly 51% – of our employees are women, and among our senior lawyers and directors the share of women is 53%. As for other law firms we cannot as yet display the same gender diversity among partners but the distribution among our senior lawyers and directors gives some hope that in the years to come we may improve the gender diversity further in our partner group.
The vast majority of our male employees who become fathers take both paternal and parental leave in connection with childbirth. Furthermore, we employ a number of international employees and have 20 different native languages represented in the firm. We consider diversity and inclusion to be a strength and we are convinced that it will also contribute with increasing importance to our competitive edge.
What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capacity?
Obviously it makes me very proud that my partners have entrusted me with the position as managing partner in the best law firm in Denmark. And it humbles me and makes me proud that, during the more than 28 years I have been with Kromann Reumert, together with my fellow partners and the many competent employees that spend and have spent their time serving our clients we have managed to keep Kromann Reumert at the very top of Danish law firms
On a personal level what makes me most proud is that my wife and I have born and raised 4 wonderful children, who are now all grown-ups, and have managed – thanks to my wife – to have a great family life regardless of a time consuming career.