Interview with: Radu Ionescu, Managing Partner

Ionescu si Sava, SCA | View firm profile

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

As a professional, I would say the greatest achievement is building a solid team at Ionescu și Sava. The strength of this team relies not only on its stability (approximately one third of our lawyers have been with the firm for more than 10 years, while the rest are natural additions as the team grew in size), but also on the personal relations that have been built between ourselves and between us and the clients.

As with any achievement, building a team comes at a cost (be it personal, financial or otherwise) and, in hindsight, I am sure mistakes have been made and there were a few failures along the way in this regard. However, the effort was definitely worth it and, 15 years after the firm was founded, our team today is one thing I of which I can definitely be proud.

On a personal level, the greatest achievement has to be my family. Which, after all, is also a teambuilding exercise.

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

Our goal from the very beginning was to bring value to clients, rather than simply delivering services and being paid for it. And to do this, we have set two priorities: to understand how the client works, and then what the client needs. Of course, this is easier said than done, as you wouldn’t normally expect a lawyer to know how an automation research facility or a meat-processing factory works, for instance. But it is this approach that has enabled us to provide tailored solutions for our clients – in many cases completely different or the opposite of what they had initially asked us to do. And in the long run it has helped us retain long-term clients (most of whom have been with us since the firm was founded or since their operations in Romania were set-up).

Of course, beyond the general approach to our work, our competitive advantages are the ones every client should come to expect from a law firm (but doesn’t always get it): availability, responsiveness, access to partners or senior associates, creativity and reliability.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

This is a tough one, as there are many pieces of advices I could have used at the right time. But one stands out: when you’re a young lawyer, or law student, you have to realize that the only real asset you need in this profession is yourself. And that, in order for this asset to produce considerable yields, you need to invest in it and make sure it is state of the art. So, at the start of your career make sure you invest all your resources in yourself. This also means not trading a good learning opportunity for a higher immediate paycheck.

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

Value is a very relative concept and sometimes it is counterintuitive, too. Most of the time value is not even about money. The fact that a client avoids negative consequences or negative press is value, as is an easier, more comfortable way to carry out its business – these are things that don’t carry in intrinsic monetary value, but that, on long term, increase the overall value of a client’s business.

In a very recent example, in the context of the medical crisis caused by the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, a client who manages the local subsidiary of a pharmaceutical company was complaining, during a break from an unrelated meeting, how his sales reps are no longer allowed to visit doctors in hospitals – and therefore they can no longer promote the products of the company to their target audience. We suggested that they should move all promotional activity online, starting with a dedicated platform to collect consent from medical professionals for receiving promotional materials and then using the platform to communicate with them and send dedicated materials. He was entirely onboard with this and we connected him to a tech company, another client of the firm, who had a solution that could be easily adapted to fit the needs.

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

In a single word: surviving. The health crisis generated by the pandemic is already doubled by an economic crisis, the depth of which we are just starting to comprehend. In this context, even solid businesses will have difficulties staying on the market, and we expect to see players of all sizes (if not even states) that will need to be bailed out or will face bankruptcy. We expect a surge in restructuring and insolvency, just as we expect a surge in litigation activity as a result of the general blockade caused by this crisis. In Romania, in particular, the legislative instability and unpredictability, doubled by local and general elections towards the end of the year, will be additional stress factors for the local businesses and organization.