Interview with: Alexander Vandenbergen, Partner

Lydian | View firm profile

The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence.

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?

In 2001 I started a new law firm, called Lydian. The aim was to create a full-service Belgian independent law firm operating in an international context. Today, 20 years later, we have realized our dream and more than that: Lydian has become one of the leading Belgian independent full service law firms.

Moreover, the employment pensions & benefits team is recognized as a top player in the market. I am very proud of the team of 18 employment and pensions & benefits lawyers that we have created over the years, which is known for is hard and qualitative work, but where we also have a lot of fun. This team allows us to tackle the most complex employment and pensions & benefits issues and handle very demanding projects within tight timeframes. I consider this as one of the greatest achievements in my career.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

We consider ourselves as business partners to our clients. We are not only there to give the correct legal input (this is the Olympic minimum), but we go the extra mile and always try to translate the complex legal framework into practical and useful solutions. We take into account the clients specific needs, the company culture, the industrial relations and the client’s business goals. Straight and to-the-point advice is the hallmark of Lydian, and we try to prove this every day.

I am often more a sounding board for my clients, discussing the tactical approach in a file and the way forward. We invest a lot in long-term relationships with clients, which allows us to put the client’s questions always in a broader perspective.

Moreover, we consider employment and pensions & benefits law not as a niche on its own, but embedded in the broader legal landscape. There are always connections with other areas, such as corporate law, tax law, insurance law, commercial contracts, criminal law, etc. Being part of a full service law firm with a specific focus on the financial services industry allows our team of employment and pensions & benefits lawyers to include these aspects in the advice to our clients, which ultimately results in better and more complete advice.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t wait until you’re 50 before thinking about realizing your dreams.

The legal profession is challenging and not always easy, but you can learn fast if you take matters in your own hands and are open to new challenges.

Can you give me a practical example of how helped a client add value to the business?

Good social relations are crucial for a company to deliver better business results. I dare to say that we contribute to these social relations in our daily advisory, especially when we are involved in difficult restructuring projects. Getting the project done within a tight timeframe, at the budgeted cost and without (too much) industrial nuisance, is of great value to our clients.

For some international clients, we set up a customized alliance of law firms to service their international needs in various countries. This is always done with the help of our good friends, and our strong relations with law firms in other countries which are crucial to make this a success. We have developed IT tools and platforms to facilitate such alliances, which streamlines the work for the client, making our services more transparent and contributes to knowledge sharing and quality improvement. Ultimately this results in more efficiency and lower legal spend. Being able to propose and implement such an approach to international needs, strengthens the long-term relation with the client, and results in better performance of legal services.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

The war for talent is back: there is a shortage on the labour market, especially for a large number of so-called bottleneck positions. This is a growing challenge for many employers, and will inevitably have an impact on recruitment and the way employers deal with their workforce. It triggers issues such as hiring employees from other countries to get the job done, investing in life-long training and education, wellbeing at the workplace, diversity in the workforce, new forms of employment beyond the traditional borders of employer subordination, etc. New concepts will have to be developed to structure the more flexible employment relation for a younger generation with different expectations, approach, attitude and work ethics. The Corona pandemic has, most certainly accelerated a number of these new ways of working

We help our clients to think out of the box and design the workforce of the future.