Interview with: Markus Fellner, Partner

Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners | View firm profile

What do you see as the main points that differentiate fwp from your competitors?

There is not one or two big things that we do different from all the others. This is also not our primary goal. What differentiates us are the very many little things of our team’s everyday hard work. We take great pride in having each team member always striving to respond faster, being better organized, digging deeper, arguing with more precision, having a clearer focus, negotiating more skillfully, all towards the ultimate goal of getting extra value for our clients. If I have to put it in one phrase what our clients value most in fwp, it is fwp’s spirit, teamwork and drive in moving things forward to a successful conclusion.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Twelve months is certainly a very short projection period as we at fwp try to anticipate developments or trends several years ahead. Short-term we will certainly see the obvious ones gaining in importance related to technological change, block-chain, cryptocurrencies, data protection, start-ups and fintechs, with growth potential also in complex civil law matters, corporate, financing, as well as related regulation. We will see a strong increase in restructuring and insolvency work once interest rates go up. Growing uncertainty on stock markets will yet again boost real estate deals. Ever more restrictive national and EC legislation will provide an impetus for further growing our strong public law practice. Competition law will become a war zone as authorities harden their grip and competitors discover it as a means of doing business. In disputes, we will see a trend to mass litigation actions. So in a nutshell perfect conditions to further grow our top tier practices, amplified by new technological trends.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Again, it is a bundle of continual adaptions and significant improvements; just to pick a few: as our business is still a people’s business, we constantly work on im-proving our team’s expertise both internally and through lateral hires. Over the past few years, we have placed a focus on deepening our international relationships to offer our national and international clients the high quality one-stop-shop they expect. TerraLex, the international law firm network where our firm is the only Austrian member, last month just won the Global Network of the Year award at The Lawyer’s European Awards in London. And we have cut down on response times to same day response.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the ser-vices you can provide them?

Legal Tech is omnipresent and fwp closely tracks progress and explores developments of its own. However, in fwp’s highly specialized fields of tailor-made solutions, technology is not yet ready to tackle these complex tasks and I personally doubt that it will be able to do so in the very near future. Still, technology will help us service clients even faster, for example through new communication channels, search options, organisational tools and internationalization.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

One client came to us in need of desperate help. Their distribution contract had been terminated by a Swiss manufacturer. Without the contract our client’s business was severely endangered. So within a couple of days, with the assistance of our Swiss colleagues, we assessed the prospects of getting a preliminary injunction to enforce the contract in Switzerland and in Austria, neither of which is easy to get. We then successfully got an injunction from a Swiss court within one week of the termination that forced the Swiss counterparty to continue to deliver goods to our clients. This essentially saved our client’s business.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Clients certainly are. fwp early on adopted the principle of “one face to the customer”. As a lawyer is only ever as good as he or she is informed, this principle gives our team the decisive information advantage of having a full picture to fully assess our clients’ strategic needs. In three years’ time, fwp will have further enhanced its client service, will have further adapted to technological change, will have continued to grow its international service network, all while remaining the leading national law firm with a spirited team of top tier lawyers who are part of a full service law firm accompanying clients in achieving their strategic goals.