Interview with: Dr. Bálint Tóásó MSc LLM, Managing Partner, Hungary
KPMG Legal Tóásó Law Firm | View firm profile
Managing Partner, Bálint Tóásó speaks about the changing legal industry and the challenges ahead.
How do you stand out from the crowd? What are the main differentiators of KPMG Legal Tóásó that sets you apart from your competition?
We believe we are genuinely different. Our approach is client-focused, our people are extraordinary and the solutions we offer are straightforward. We go both the extra mile and the last mile for our clients. We go by the solution and not the problem. People working with us are trained and educated with special focus and attention to solutions and real value to our clients. We do not offer complex solutions. We offer simple solutions to complex problems. As we used to say at KPMG: we cut through complexity.
In order to achieve this, we approach problems in a completely fresh and unconventional way. We try to answer questions that have never been raised by our clients and mitigate risks before they actually take shape. In a way, we aim at being futurists for the benefit of our clients. This, of course, requires extremely lot of effort from our people and careful designing of our work.
The legal service providers’ role as a classical administrative function is fading away quickly and is being replaced by new concepts. Lawyers must re-position their services and re-skill themselves. This has less to do with technology and digitalisation, or the coronavirus pandemic. This is rather an incremental change of our industry that we see happening right now because of changing client needs and expectations. Technology is just ramping up the pace of changes and the difference that one can make with such new approach.
Our clients seek commercially minded legal advisory services with tangible added value. In-depth legal knowledge is the base-line, absolutely needed, but definitely not enough. Solid accounting, tax and commercial understanding must be present in all instances. This is where we, as a BIG4 law firm have a competitive edge over traditional lawyers because of our unparalleled advisory and tax capabilities and colleagues.
Which practices do you foresee growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
GDPR is evergreen. Even if the structure and focus of our workload has changed a lot in the past years, GDPR offers even more for the future, we believe. The increasing amount of fines by authorities should keep all players focused around this topic. With the quickly growing stakes on the table, we have strong focus on GDPR litigation besides other types of GDPR work.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, M&A is booming. Whether it will stay with us on the mid run, I am not sure, but for the time being we see rapid growth of our M&A practice and we are gearing up to the next level. We established ourselves in the VC market with a growing number of clients and deals which we keep pushing hard in the coming years as well.
We cannot oversee the impact of the epidemic on legal services, which caused turbulent times in connection with employment and labour law issues. It was key to find solutions for the fall-backs caused by the significant decrease of the economies operation. Employment is one of our key expansion territories and a topic that is never ‘out of fashion’. We believe that the workload presented by the pandemic will constantly remain with us and continue to develop in the upcoming years. Same goes for litigation and disputes. Disputes will gain more spot light as the economic effects of the pandemic will gain ground in all segments. We serve our clients with a pro-active mind-set and sometimes way beyond legal aspects with shaping negotiation strategies and dead-lock release methods.
Finally, an increasing number of our legal work is carried out with the support of smart tools and legal tech solutions. We deem ourselves as early adopters and one of the first movers in this space, frankly speaking however, the market for these services is still in its infancy. Nonetheless we regularly use these tools and solutions internally to increase efficiency and cut costs. We stay focused and have already exploited major opportunities in these fields as well. I have strong faith in legal tech and that more will come rapidly.
What are the main changes you have made during coronavirus that clients will benefit the most of?
We made it our top priority to get closer to our clients during these testing days. We did not wait to be called, but picked up the phone and called each and every client we have. We shared news, have shown confidence that they are not alone and can count on us. This was extremely appreciated by our clients during the lockdown.
We immediately started to pull together a Covid-19 information HUB for our clients where they could gain free access to the latest information in a structured and transparent way. We teamed up with advisory and tax and came up with daily digests and beyond. We offered dozens of seminars and consultations to show our commitment towards our clients and communities. We have received extremely positive feedback and support that our work is highly appreciated and we are exceptionally fast with processing new legislation and changes.
Because of all these factors, we even managed to increase our clientele during these dark days where personal contact was not an option. Gaining trust through online platforms taught us important lessons how we should further develop our skills and communication to be better.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
We want to be frontrunners in legal tech, so we invest in these areas heavily. We use state-of-the-art technology and have our own tech developments as well. We train our mindset accordingly and are active in the legal tech and tech scene.
We are using and looking at sophisticated AI solutions, team up with real hardcore techies for legal tech projects and joint brain-storming sessions.
We are constantly monitoring new tech solutions, tools and possibilities, but we also believe that their potential ethical impact should also be considered. Therefore, we also actively participated in shaping the EU-level legislation around artificial intelligence and its possible use cases.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in 3 years’ time?
Yes, definitely, stability is a priority to our clients.
Our clients place trust in us over and over again because they value our undivided attention that they receive from us. In today’s business environment, decision makers appreciate professional advice that goes beyond pure legal ramifications. Today, they not only seek legal counsel, they are looking for cooperation with trusted advisors who take care of all their burden so that they can focus on their businesses.
Over the next few years we see ourselves as a continuously growing, multi-disciplinary legal advisory firm open for further learning and smart solutions. All these will enable us to become one of the leading law firms in Hungary and the clear choice.