Legal group manager, corporate holdings and energy regulation, advocate | Hellenic Petroleum group of companies
General Manager on legal affairs and corporate governance | Public Power Corporation
Ethics and compliance director, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal | Astellas EMEA
Corporate, external and legal affairs lead, Microsoft Greece, Cyprus & Malta | Microsoft Hellas
In-house legal counsel | Cablenet Communication Systems
General counsel, chief legal and regulatory affairs officer | Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation
Vice president legal and public affairs | AB Vassilopoulos (Ahold Delhaize Group)
Director legal affairs and secretary to the board of directors | Athens International Airport
Legal advisor to the Board of Directors, director of legal services | EYDAP
General counsel | MHV Mediterranean Hospitality Ventures
Head, contract monitoring unit | Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund
Legal director Greece, Cyprus, Malta and the Czech Republic | Viatris
Head of the legal department and compliance officer | Nestlé Hellas
Senior counsel, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta | Papastratos Cigarette Manufacturing Company
Director of legal commercial support | Public Power Corporation (PPC)
Head of legal services, head of corporate governance and secretary of the board | Astrobank
General counsel and member of the board of directors | Siemens
Head of legal department | Independent Power Transmission Operator
Deputy head of contract monitoring unit | Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund
Vice president legal affairs and regulatory compliance | Melco Resorts & Entertainment
Head of capital markets, wealth management, strategy and international activities legal division; legal advisor to the Board | Eurobank
General counsel, head of legal, regulatory and compliance division | Athens Exchange Group
Legal affairs and governance division director | The Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA)
Director for TV legal issues, legal institutional framework for fixed and mobile | OTE Group
Senior legal director Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Israel sub cluster lead | Pfizer
General counsel and corporate secretary,insurance and claims manager | Seanergy Maritime Holdings
General counsel legal affairs and corporate services | Quest group of companies
Commercial and corporate legal executive | Cerved Property Services
General counsel, director legal, insurance and corporate affairs | Attica Holdings
Director and associate general counsel WW channels and ecosystems | Hewlett Packard Enterprise
The Legal 500 GC Powerlist: Greece and Cyprus 2022 captures the theme of resilience, adaptation, and growth among the leading legal counsel across all industries in both Greece and Cyprus. It was a delight to speak with premier counsel in these countries who shared their organisational objectives, challenges, and highlights over the past years. Among the significant cases and transactions shared, there were general sentiments on how leadership of their legal teams had transformed and how technology had been fondly embraced.
Despite the unprecedented time we are in, which is riddled with the aftermath of a global pandemic, war and associated consequences, the general outlook among all participants was one of triumph through crises. Had there been a decided theme to this edition, it would be one which successfully encapsulates how general counsel in Greece and Cyprus have remained steadfast providing legal advice and positively transforming the cultures of their team and organisations through policies and remarkable leadership.
In-house counsel in this edition describe the last few years to be ‘heavily impacted by Covid-19 regulatory measures’, with no exception to ‘political and economic implications’ too. However, they resolve to look forward enthusiastically into a future involving increased implementation of technology in their departments and day-to-day work. Counsel also shared how much their usual tasks had changed, referring to how their organisations had required them to widen their scope of work and be a contributing voice to business decisions. Several counsel note that this is a welcome change and one which has decisively improved the way the legal function is viewed by management.
Despite looming challenges relating to energy and inflation globally to which the economies in Greece and Cyprus are no exception, organisations can rest assured that in-house counsel are well prepared to face the tasks. According to the respective governments in these economies, there is much focus on supporting business activity ahead of the predicted tough months. In combination with this, counsel can look forward to the global awareness of ESG and sustainability practices, and creatively decide how to guide their companies through making change.
Some in-house lawyers report that they have already successfully influenced their respective organisations to act and prioritise decisions regarding ESG. In the words of one general counsel, ‘we had to balance legal, compliance and ESG matters to act in a sustainable manner, to take advantage of opportunities for the company, while trying to mitigate emerging risks.’ Another counsel explains why it was crucial to act early, ‘it was not only because the government is proceeding with new legislation that changes the framework under which business operates, but also because businesses must go beyond the regulation and consider their role in environmental and sustainability issues.’ Stemming from this, leading counsel confirm that there are also changes in consumer habits based on how responsible a business appears.
This publication confirms that in the face of successive crises, general counsel in these jurisdictions are qualified to navigate challenges and business decisions alike. Congratulations to all the brilliant, innovative leading in-house counsel of Greece and Cyprus who were a pleasure to speak with for this publication!
Melissa Yebisi| Research Analyst | GC Powerlist Series
Quality, Innovation, Growth
Elias Neocleous & Co LLC is the largest law firm in Cyprus with established professional networks worldwide. Functioning on a departmentalised basis with more than 140 professional staff, we are equipped to offer specialist advice in all major branches of Cypriot, European and international law. We have a reputation for providing our clients with creative solutions and can demonstrate extensive experiences in cross-border and domestic transactions. The quality of our offering is highlighted by multiple ‘Tier One’ ratings awarded to us by the premier independent rating bodies and a high quality client base.
But that is just one part of our story – as the world changes, so do we!
Social and technological changes continually alter the ways in which our clients think and operate. At Elias Neocleous & Co LLC we recognise that this means that we must evolve in order to continue to provide them with the best service possible. Together with our legacy firm, we have pioneered significant change in the Cypriot legal sector and can list numerous ‘firsts’ to our name, including being the first Cypriot law firm to:
We view digitalisation and other technological advances as our ally and not our replacement or enemy. Our commitment to modern work practices, and selective exploitation of technical advances set us in a league apart from our competitors in Cyprus. It has enabled us to continue to seamlessly deliver first class and, importantly, cyber secure services to existing and new clients throughout the various phases of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. We appreciate that embracing technological innovations is a necessary attitude to achieve harmonisation with the demands of the market, and to strengthen our current leading position in providing legal services.
Technology Law Department
There has never been a better time than the present to launch a technology business in Cyprus. Having firmly established Cyprus as an international finance hub, in recent years, government attention has turned to the promotion of Cyprus as a hub for the provision of digital and electronic services and as the ideal venue for high tech ‘start-ups’. As a key sponsor of the ‘Reflect Festival’ and a founding member of the ‘TechIsland’ Association, we fully endorse this vision for the Cypriot economy. The help available for high tech start-ups in Cyprus is now considerable and so we have established a technology law department to ensure our clients can access it successfully. Our highly regarded multi-disciplinary team of lawyers, accountants, tax experts, IT specialists and cybersecurity consultants work in partnership with young businesses to provide knowledgeable and proactive support across the full range of start-up issues. We provide the support they need to successfully grow their businesses.
By providing opportunities for individual and group collaboration across time zones and continents we have created a place that fosters a culture of innovation. Through the creation, sharing, and testing of ideas, Elias Neocleous & Co LLC is able to increase in efficiency, and both improve and augment the services that we can offer to clients.
Our multi-disciplinary project development team is brainstorming to deliver new ways of working which will benefit clients and the firm. It is exploring new techniques including blockchain technology, data mining, cybersecurity, and machine learning. Its first major project, Neolaw.ai, is an alternative legal services provider which has just been successfully launched in Cyprus. The future of professional law firms lies in using the best of modern technology to increase the efficient of lawyers by eliminating time consuming tasks and by expanding their knowledge horizons to the benefit of their clients. Neolaw.ai is our first contribution to this evolution.
Neolaw.ai gives users access to:
Neolaw.ai offers lawyers in Cyprus new and more efficient ways to serve their clients.
Elias Neocleous & Co LLC is a law firm which understands the past but also embraces the future!
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often!” – Winston Churchill
Strong relationships, forward legal thinking, united team: from our perspective, these are the essential ingredients for efficient, high-performing organisations and teams.
KLC has the honour to sponsor, for a third time in a row, the 2022 GC Powerlist for Greece and Cyprus. This is the first GC event in Greece following the Covid-19 outbreak, thereby making it even more special. Lawyers featured in this year’s list have demonstrated the capacity, resilience and focus to add true value to their businesses.
This is happening against a background of a severe public health emergency caused by the Covid-19 outbreak that, in turn, gave rise to a major shock to the global economies and societies, undoubtedly disrupting everyone’s personal and professional life.
Against the above challenging background and after two-and-a-half years of enduring a global pandemic, it has become clear that this unprecedented crisis also created significant opportunities and innovative initiatives.
Just to mention a few notable ones:
The legal profession in Greece has witnessed a rapid digital transformation of important parts of its workflow and day-to-day professional life. The electronic submission of court files, the receipt of judgments and court documents via email, the widespread use of digital signatures, the granting of authorisations and powers of attorney as well as the certifications of date and signatures online via the gov.gr platform are pivotal examples of how the every-day life of legal professionals has become more efficient and less bureaucratic. This expedited digital transition has enabled lawyers and organisations to re-focus valuable talent, time and resources on substantive work.
The reality of remote work meant that organisations undertook an expedited shift in digital infrastructure. Working-from-home incentivised the digitalisation of work resources and the upgrading of IT systems and digital tools thereby not only strengthening continuity of services but also helping organisations be better prepared and equipped in addressing any future disruptions.
Recovery and Resilience Facility
The RRF, a dedicated instrument designed to tackle the adverse effects and consequences of the Covid-19 crisis at a union level, is one of the key European initiatives for strengthening reforms and investments in all EU member states. In Greece, the reforms and investments of the national Recovery and Resilience Plan structured in five strategic pillars, namely green transition, digitalisation, extroversion, economies of scale through mergers and acquisitions and innovation is expected not only to help Greece become more sustainable and resilient but also to give rise to fresh possibilities for growth and development. Lawyers and legal professionals are thereby provided with new opportunities in supporting and servicing their clients and fruitful synergies between external counsel and in-house legal teams will be further encouraged.
Amid all this flux and uncertainty, organisations do not only require their legal teams to have deep knowledge of legal provisions in force from time-to-time, but they urge them to deliver solutions, simply and effectively. This presupposes that in-house legal teams understand the business, comprehend the risks, uphold the objectives and vision and stay committed to them. Besides, the pandemic kept proving, and is still proving, that well set up plans and operations get disrupted, thus teaching us the importance of both flexibility and collaboration amongst teams!
Moreover, at a time when efficient resource-allocation and spending is imperative, it is vital that in-house lawyers can identify the most cost-effective way to engage their external lawyers and establish strong, long-term relationships with them so as to consistently provide the business with the best commercially-aware legal advice.
In such a challenging environment KLC has not only achieved to maintain and further develop existing, strong and long-lasting relationships with corporate clients and their legal counsel but also establish new ones. KLC continues to consistently support its corporate clients in all practice areas by providing commercially-astute advice on contentious and non-contentious matters and contributing to the development of strategic decisions within the relative legal and regulatory frameworks. KLC’s competitive advantage is the specialisation of our highly qualified and experienced lawyers in various legal areas and at the same time the ability to combine our expertise from various fields and practices in order to provide comprehensive and business oriented legal services. Our devotion to client service by a well-bonded team of specialised professionals aims at meeting the expectations of our clientele and building a trusting, enduring and successful relationship.
Experience has taught us that delivering high quality services requires close collaboration with the colleagues who know our clients best, being a vital and integral part of their organization. Looking through this year’s Powerlist and reading – and in certain cases having first-hand knowledge – about the astonishing work done and excellent results achieved by those highly skilled and efficient colleagues, tells us that we can continue to learn a lot from the modus operandi of the in-house legal teams.
Having said that, congratulations to all lawyers featured in this year’s list!
The Green Summit Finland 2023, hosted by Castrén & Snellman in Helsinki on 7 June 2023, marked the eight event in our Green Summit series associated with The Legal 500’s Global Green Guide, and the second time we held the summit in Finland. The event brought together leading practitioners and in-house counsel from across the country and region to discuss the legal sector’s contribution to a green transition.
Sakari Lukinmaa, managing partner at Castrén & Snellman, and Anna Bauböck, Global Green Guide editor at The Legal 500 kicked off the summit with a welcome address and some opening remarks.
Anna Kuusniemi-Laine, partner and head of sustainability at Castrén & Snellman, proceeded to chair the first panel which examined the evolving role of the general counsel and corporate legal teams. In this first discussion, the audience heard from speakers at frontrunner companies in the region: Nora Steiner-Forsberg, general counsel at Fortum; Christian Ståhlberg, general counsel at Neste; and Taru Uotila, general counsel at Aspo.
Kuusniemi-Laine set the scene before the discussion, pointing towards how today’s various crises from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine can in fact accelerate progress. Many companies in the region have strengthened their ESG commitments, yet ESG risks and opportunities are changing, and ESG issues are increasingly investigated or taken to court.
A key take-away of the first panel was that sustainable business is the only option, and a key theme was the powerful role inhouse counsel play when it comes to ESG and a green transition due to the influence legal teams can have in corporate decision-making. As Uotila put it: The legal department is there to achieve company goals, and those goals need to involve sustainability if the company wants to survive – therefore ESG is inevitably an integral part of the legal teams’ job.
Lawyers’ role is to balance those ESG risks and opportunities. As Steiner-Forsberg pointed out, lawyers should turn the current ESG regulatory tsunami into a business case, finding the benefits rather than focusing on the burden it may present.
Ståhlberg proposed the adoption of a holistic view, looking at the big picture. He stressed that creating a sustainable business is the only long-term solution, that businesses also need to remain profitable, and that therefore companies need to be innovative. In his opinion, lawyers should think about influencing with a long-term vision.
Two other main points of the discussion around the evolution of the GC role included: firstly, lawyers cannot work in silos, need to talk to colleagues in different functions, and need to stay curious, open minded and up-to-speed; and secondly, legal interpretation forms only a small part of lawyers’ role – today it’s about so much more than mere technical implementation.
After a lively Q&A session followed by a short coffee break, the second panel, chaired by Minna Korhonen, partner at Castrén & Snellman, looked at current trends in sustainable finance and the financing of the net zero transition. The audience heard from speakers and experts Juho Maalahti, country lead sustainable finance advisory at Nordea Bank; Antti Malava, head of sustainability insights & analytics at Danske Bank; and Vilppu Tarvainen, head of DCM Finland & Baltics at SEB.
First, the discussion focused on the context of the Nordic market: The Nordics have been frontrunners in sustainable finance with regulation driving the market, as well as a fear of missing out mentality, especially on the capital markets side. Maalahti illustrated this by pointing to the fact that 60% of corporate bonds were issued under the ESG umbrella in the Nordics, compared to around 30% across Europe.
Malava highlighted that today investors want to associate investments with something good for the world. Referring to the interplay between supply and demand, Tarvainen commented that the demand for sustainable finance was there, and regulation has helped to give it more supply. He added that there has been such a shift in balance that there is now a chance of running out of green assets.
A central part of the discussion revolved around the hot topic of greenwashing. All speakers agreed that the market is currently trying to understand what constitutes greenwashing, there is still no common definition and a great need for regulators to establish this. In particular, this needs to involve the distinction between intentional and unintentional greenwashing
Maalahti stressed how terminology matters, and also drew attention to the fact that some regulation hasn’t worked out the way it was intended. Tarvainen additionally commented on the problem of inverse greenwashing: What is sustainable enough; what is credible in investors’ eyes? He gave the example of a very sustainable product in a very unsustainable company. Malava illustrated how ESG ratings are measuring different things because of a lack of clear definitions.
When Korhonen asked about the scope of comparative data, Malava questioned the possibility of making data comparable when it is being measured differently. Again, the speakers agreed on the need for increased standardisation. As Tarvainen summed it up: We currently have lots of pieces of a big puzzle, but we don’t yet know how they need to be put together.
After another engaging Q&A from the audience and some brief closing remarks from Kuusniemi-Laine, the evening was rounded off by a drinks reception giving participants and speakers a chance to mingle, network and continue the conversation.