Interview with: Wouter Neven, Partner


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 the fast-paced and competitive world of real estate in which our clients have to do business, they need confidence, pragmatism and speed. We succeed in delivering this with high-quality services to our clients thanks to a strong, motivated and well-oiled team of experienced and talented lawyers. I am very proud of the great team of more than 20 highly motivated real estate lawyers that we have built up over the years. The team hangs together tremendously and is known in the market for its hard work and high-quality work, but we also enjoy it a lot. The client feels this fantastic atmosphere and can appreciate it enormously. This team enables us to tackle the most complex real estate issues and handle very demanding projects within tight deadlines. I consider this to be one of the greatest achievements of my career.

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

We consider ourselves business partners for our customers. Not only are we there to provide the right legal input (this is the Olympic minimum), but we always go the extra mile and try to translate the complex legal framework into practical and usable solutions. We take into account the specific needs of the client, the corporate culture, the market and the client’s business objectives. Direct and to-the-point advice is Lydian’s trademark, and we try to prove it every day.

I am also very often a sounding board for my clients, discussing the tactical approach in a case and the way forward. We invest a lot in long-term relationships with clients, so we can always put the client’s questions in a broader perspective.

We also often offer our clients business opportunities. When we see these, we contact our clients and bring them into contact with other players. They appreciate this enormously.

We will put the interests of our clients first in every advice and also take a position. Clients don’t expect long advice where they don’t know how to proceed at the end of it. We really help them choose and always dare to take a position, which customers greatly appreciate.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The legal profession is challenging and not always easy, but you can learn quickly if you are open to new challenges. The real estate world is a hard world where everything goes very fast. At the same time, you can live and work at 200km/hour together with your clients. Be open to these experiences and, last but not least, enjoy them!

But do make room and certainly time for the friendships that also exist in this world. The real estate world consists of many fascinating people and you can work with them and/or be friends in a fantastic experience.

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

In the real estate world, being able to respond quickly to opportunities is crucial. Anticipating (preferably before competitors do) is also crucial for a real estate company to achieve better operating results. I dare to say that in our daily advice we contribute to the quick discovery and/or secureness of these opportunities.

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 contributing 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 increase in the cost of energy and raw materials is making the realization of real estate projects more expensive. This is primarily a problem for projects under construction and it is expected that contractors will be less eager to work against a lump sum fee for new projects. Due to the high inflation the residential rental market will come under pressure which may cause problems for some investors and property owners.