fivehundred magazine > > Interview with… Spiros Komitopoulos, managing partner, A.S. Papadimitriou & Partners

Interview with… Spiros Komitopoulos, managing partner, A.S. Papadimitriou & Partners

What are the biggest challenges facing the Greek legal market in the next 12 months?

If we have learnt anything over the last 2 years, it is that we must remain flexible and adaptable, which is perhaps the first challenge for any firm. After that, there are a number of other challenges we face.

Firstly, there is rising inflation which puts great pressure on our clients and on us in turn. In order to remain competitive, we have to do more with less.

Another challenge is that of being alert to the changes and demands of rapid developing of sectors (for example, energy, IT).

Further to this is the challenge of talent scouting and retention. We want to continue hiring the best.

A further challenge is ensuring cyber security and data protection for ourselves and our clients as we deal with sensitive material.

One more challenge is the huge array of tech solutions to choose from and this also gives us pause for thought. We have to offer our clients and colleagues the very best tech solutions, and there has been an explosion in the number of tools available. Discerning between them to choose the perfect tool is a further challenge.

Where do you feel your clients need the most legal support in the next 12 months?

We anticipate that legal spending in regulatory work, litigation, and labour & employment will all increase as clients search for strategic legal partners who can help identify and manage the fluctuating regulatory environments left in the wake of the Pandemic.

We also expect clients to allocate more of their budget to cross-border work and forecast that access to key markets across the region will increase over the next 12 months. To this end, localized legal knowledge that is applicable across multiple jurisdictions will be one of the main factors that clients look for in selecting their outside counsel.

In addition to the new conditions, with the new investments in the emerging sectors of the economy, we will have to meet the increased needs of the clients in the sector of M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions).

What sets your firm apart from competitors?

We are business lawyers, offering practical solutions based on our authentic expertise, collaborating closely with clients, and sharing the motto ‘Working together, Winning together’.

In addition, our partners are able to work closely with our clients, making themselves available at all times. This is because of our unique organisational structure, a reverse pyramid.

Finally, we have an exceptionally high level of staff retention due to our family atmosphere. This builds trust and stability, leading to excellent client relations.

How active are members of your team in terms of thought leadership?

We firmly believe that true leadership involves encouraging leadership in others, so we invest in our associates to make them the next leaders. This is achieved through our organisational structure, which allows our partners to remain highly engaged, mentoring associates and guiding them to success.

What does innovation mean to you? Can you tell us about any specific innovation initiatives at your firm?

The legal industry tends to hold on to tradition. However, it is time to realize that innovation is key to surviving in our changing world. It begins with shifting the focus onto the clients’ needs and providing an end-to-end client-oriented experience. We focus on what our clients want and our associates need in order to provide legal services efficiently and profitably.

We have found that these days the highest demand is closely connected with technology: paperless, with electronic signatures, using document and process automation.

We have found that these days the highest demand is closely connected with technology: paperless, with electronic signatures, using document and process automation.

We monitor and use cutting-edge technologies through our outsourced IT Department, and we train everyone in the office to become proficient at using technology.

We have access to huge amounts of data, and with the use of new technologies, we manage to turn that data into data insights. These help us make better business decisions, win cases for clients, attracting new client business by quantifying relevant experience and pricing legal projects.

In addition, we supplement this with both an innovative collaborative lending system for all resources and a collaboration with a digital archive system in Greece in the cloud.

What technological changes have you implemented at your firm to improve the legal services you provide to your clients?

Due to the pandemic, technology changed the legal landscape in many ways, and we expect it to continue to do so long after this global pandemic is over. Lawyers have already changed not only where they work, but also how. Clearly, remote work is set to become even more common, with staff using multiple devices for work. In this context, improving team members digital skills for working remotely and prioritizing digital communications with clients will continue to be important.

To keep ahead of the game, we must also keep abreast of new applications and services.

We use a legal practice management software that allows to lawyers to work remotely at any time and in any place and respond to clients more quickly, while allowing other team members to access to necessary information. We also keep automatic backup files of client information in a secure environment.

We have also adapted our conference room to be more suitable for online meetings with our clients, with document sharing facilities, high quality video and a top-of-the-range sound system.

Furthermore, our library is digitally monitored so that we always know where a book is. In addition, we supplement this with both an innovative collaborative lending system for all resources and a collaboration with a digital archive system.

Finally, we have enhanced our approach to cyber security (by outsourcing it to a company of digital transformation specialists) and bolstered our data protection (by engaging the services of an expert DPO).

How does the firm support its junior staff in terms of career progression and growth?

Firstly, we acknowledge that junior staff are an asset and we invest in them. We have worked to establish a climate of trust in our premises, where juniors are encouraged to ask questions without fear of reprisals. We mentor them, guiding them to succeed, in the hopes that they will be the leaders of tomorrow. It helps that we offer them a clear promotional path.

More practically speaking, they are encouraged to engage in post graduate studies in their fields of interest. We make our premises open to them if they want a quiet place to study, provide books for them, allow them access to all legal platforms, as well as supply them with anything else they may need to conduct research.

We also subsidise any other seminars they may want to attend, encouraging them to broaden their knowledge.

Finally, we share with them our vision in growing and improving together as a team.

You have been involved in advising clients on Greece’s 5G infrastructure; how do you foresee this to develop and what role will you play?

Greece has been one of the leading EU countries in bandwidth concession for fifth-generation (5G) telecommunication network licenses. This has been combined with the strong development of the Greek deep tech/start-up ecosystem, as well as notable initiatives by the Greek State. A case in point is the launch of Phaistos Investment Fund (to which the Greek government has committed proceeds received from the auction for the use of the 5G Spectrum) whose target is investments in enterprises that have activities in research or development of products and services that operate in technologies supported by 5G infrastructure in Greece, as well as the participation of the Hellenic Development Bank of Investments (the Greek sovereign fund of funds) as an institutional investor in a series of venture capital funds that invest in the sector. We are proud to be advisors of both Phaistos Investment Fund and its Manager, 5G Ventures S.A. in terms of its establishment and investments, in addition to steadily advising the Hellenic Development Bank of Investments in relation to its investments and we are committed, as legal advisors of either investors or investees, to contributing to the development and growth of this sector.

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