Interview with: ELENI TSOUKALA, MANAGING PARTNER, TSOUKALA & PARTNERS LAW FIRM
Managing Partner, Eleni Tsoukala, shares her thoughts on why Tsoukala & Partners is uniquely well-placed to advise clients on Greek law matters and on landmark cross-border transactions and on how the firm stays at the forefront of the latest legal, business and technological developments.
1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate Tsoukala & Partners from your competitors?
Our responsiveness and exceptional customer service set us apart from other firms and we are delighted that our clients’ testimonials in The Legal 500 attest to that. We devote our full and undivided attention to clients and listen intently to understand their specific concerns, legal needs but most importantly their business objectives. We always deliver and our clients also highly appreciate our consistency. All of the above skills have enabled us to consistently retain our clients over time and to create a very loyal and bespoke client base. Further, an important factor that our clients emphasise, is the particular international expertise that the majority of our attorneys have, given that our team is highly select, having worked previously in some of the major international law firms and continuing to work alongside a large number of such firms, as we maintain excellent working relationships with a number of the major international law firms. Last but importantly, by placing great emphasis in thoroughly understanding our clients’ business objectives, I am delighted that our clients consistently comment on our ability to distinguish important business issues and focus our legal advice accordingly, rather than vice versa.
2) Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
We are the only Greek member firm to form part of The FinTech Lawyers Network (fln), a network of highly specialized FinTech lawyers, and have carved-out a FinTech niche for ourselves that is highly recognised in the market. We anticipate that this specialised practice of ours will grow even further in the next 12 months. A large number of major domestic and major multinationals are seeking our advice on highly specialized cross-border matters, including FinTech and technology regulatory, licensing of FinTech and financial services, online and digital banking services, online and digital investment services, networking products and services, software IP rights, cloud computing and storage laws and regulations, privacy matters and the GPDR, internet security, payment services and e-money services, e-business and e-commerce, AML laws and regulations etc.
Whilst FinTech and technology are very fast-evolving areas, our other practice areas such as our Corporate and M&A practice and our Real Estate practices are extremely dynamic as well, and our Firm has been advising on a number of complex major cross-border transactions in these areas, owing to the needs of our select international client base, the political and economic stability of our jurisdiction which attracts large multinational investors and the quality and prices of a number of asset classes, such as commercial real estate, start-up businesses and other Greek businesses that, despite consistent increases in price levels, continue to be amongst the most competitive and attractive in Europe.
3) What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
We are investing more time and resources in training our lawyers to develop their expertise in fast-growing areas such as FinTech, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency etc. We believe that whilst complex, such areas will develop quickly over the next few years and we are keen for our lawyers to be in the absolute epicenter of these developments. At the same time, we are continuously training our attorneys in business matters (such as finance, corporate finance, business, risk management, data science and business analytics etc.) by attending seminars, conferences and engaging in various learning forms in all these areas, as no matter how sophisticated, international and technologically adept our services are, clients highly appreciate a thorough understanding of their core business needs in each and every transaction.
4) Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
We are looking into different ways that artificial intelligence can help us better serve our clients’ needs. We are investing time into looking at software programs that create templates, created and developed by us, that we can use for repeat legal tasks. Using such programs enable us to ensure cost efficiency and a swift turnaround for our clients. Notwithstanding that, our services are highly personalised and as aforesaid, very much tailored to our clients’ individual business and legal needs, given that the “morale” emanating from years of experience is that whilst a legal issue will repeat itself, its practical application will not and will thus require immense individual and personalised attention.
5) Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
We recently advised a large multinational on an important global restructuring involving a significant number of local offices and personnel globally and the parallel creation, negotiations and entry into a new shareholders’ agreement in respect of a group of diverse major international stakeholders. This transaction required legal advice ranging from regulatory and corporate to tax and real estate. The challenges were, as are often in the matters we handle, dealing with and harmonising different legal regimes into one complex UK-law driven and UK-law governed framework agreement and respective shareholders’ agreement, and implementing such complex restructuring in practice and the main success drivers were immense attention to detail and personalised service, re-thinking “familiar” legal concepts to adapt them to the clients’ individual needs and maintaining business acumen and practical thinking to offer practical solutions to the clients when deadlocks arose.
6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
They absolutely are, even if they do not expressly require (or may not be fully aware that they require this) ab initio. We have a long-standing relationship with most of our clients, having advised them and retained them over a significant period of time. We understand their business and needs which ensures we can provide them with strategic direction tailored to their core strategic and business needs and know their businesses almost on a historical basis and these two factors are amongst the most important to our clients. Clients consistently remark that they highly appreciate our solid two layered-approach of (i) offering thorough legal advice accompanied by (ii) practical tips and conclusions on how to action such legal advice and what to aim for strategically in negotiations and in the agreements that they put in place (the latter, it must be noted, being invaluable to them).