What makes lawyers special?
The most important trait successful lawyers have in common is their passion for the law. 12 years ago, I knew nothing about this profession. It was then I had my first encounter with a lawyer and started to work in a law firm. They all seemed quite stiff at first, with serious looks and a complicated way to answer even the simplest questions.
The thing is lawyers have an intricate mind. It all starts in law school when their perception of the world changes and they realize that by choosing a legal profession they dedicate their life to the pursuit of justice. In the end, this means helping others: people, businesses, organizations, systems. And this is what drives them every day when they work tirelessly to find a way to win a case or to make a deal work. Every matter is important, every legal step requires research, a strategy, endless hours of drafting documents, understanding clients, vision, and adaptability. It is a lifelong responsibility.
But it takes more than legal skills, talent, intelligence, and a structured mind to go beyond the legal brief. Passion, loyalty, and moral conduct is what keeps teams together and clients close. And be it trainees, junior or senior lawyers, they all have one thing in common: that special sparkle when they start talking about their work.
Meet Sabina and Alexandra!
Alexandra Nania, Associate of Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile & Partners Attorneys at Law (ZRVP)
a. What exactly are you doing in your current role (and how did you start)?
I recall wanting to be a lawyer since the third grade. However, once I graduated from law school, I found myself in the position of choosing between legal professions, which was not an easy task. Almost ten years later, I can say without hesitation that being a lawyer suits me perfectly and I would not have it any other way.
I provide legal assistance to leading Romanian and foreign companies, covering all aspects related to data privacy, corporate matters, and labor and employment. I also act as counsel on due diligence processes and advise my clients on their relationship with public authorities, institutions and any individual or legal entities. In subsidiary, I ensure the necessary support in intellectual property matters.
b. What are the activities that bring you great joy?
I am a traveler at heart. However, when time or exceptional contexts like the current one do not allow me to experience new cultures and locations, I prefer to take long walks, have dinner with friends or family, see a stand-up show or try new dessert recipes.
c. What challenges have you faced so far?
Effective direct communication with clients is not always easy. I had my share of hardship at the very start of my career, but practice and experience improved my skills over time.
I appreciate that the feeling of involvement and control of the work you do in my profession is very high. Even in cases where the arbitrary occurs, I know I would do everything in my power to get the best results. And this feeling helps me to move on in any circumstances.
I strongly believe that it takes more than sound knowledge to make an outstanding lawyer. And the extra ingredients are passion, being human and connected to your client’s needs and interests.
d. Tell us about the most unique experience/project implemented in your current position.
I was lucky enough to have been involved in important projects and transactions. Working in a leading law firm large gives you exposure to high profile clients and complex deals.
Beyond the business area, there are projects that particularly reach your heart and human side. The assistance provided to a family in their process of adopting a baby girl is very present in my mind and I always refer to this professional experience as a benchmark for my career to come. That kind of project keeps you most engaged and satisfied for achieving the goal as it would have been your own story.
e. When you explain to your parents/family what you do at work, how would you do it?
My family is aware that being a lawyer is who I am and that I am fully committed to the idea of law as a governing force for society and justice. This is why they have been always supportive with my constant drive to upgrade my career. I love helping people and businesses and I am resilient in meeting my targets. But this takes time. There is no such thing as the perfect balance between profession and personal life. However, the key is not to divide your time equally between work and family, but to enjoy quality time with your family as often as possible.
f. What do you consider to be trends in your domain? Please list 3.
The legal sector is developing, and the future belongs to the teams of lawyers that possess a combined new set of skills.
The rise of virtual and augmented reality technology, enhanced mobility and remote working, and digitalization are the trends of today and tomorrow.
However, even though technology and artificial intelligence are necessary tools in the current business reality, I insist on the clients’ desire to have a human-looking lawyer.
g. What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop in the pioneering work?
In law, there is no place for routine or limitation. I see my profession as one of the most dynamic and challenging ones, where the ability to anticipate risks and to tailor your assistance to the clients’ needs are a prerequisite for success.
In the future, the focus will be not on the development of technology itself but rather on augmenting the skills and flexibility to approach such a technology to the benefit of the clients.
Sabina Donescu, Senior Associate of Zamfirescu Racoți Vasile Attorneys at Law (ZRVP)
a) What exactly are you doing in your current role (and how did you start)?
My current role is within the litigation and arbitration department at ZRVP. I have been a member of the team since 2016, when I started my second year as a trainee lawyer. My main areas of expertise include civil litigation, employment disputes, arbitration, IP and administrative litigation.
Ever since law school, I have seen myself as a fierce litigation lawyer defending clients’ rights and pursuing justice at all costs.
Although I have been offered the opportunity to work as a consultancy lawyer with major law firms in Romania, I have never seen this role as appealing because it lacked the excitement of pleading my clients’ case before a judge and the beauty of the debate that accompanies court litigation.
b) What are the activities that bring you great joy?
Pleading a case before a judge is what makes me happy. I find it both intellectually challenging, because I know I have to do everything in my power in order to prove that my client is right and that our claims or defences are justified, and spiritually rewarding because I understand that what I am doing is meaningful, that my efforts go towards getting a good result for my clients.
c) What challenges have you faced so far?
The professional challenges I have encountered so far range from lack of a clear legal framework to a superficial understanding of the legal situation by the parties involved.
There are situations when you know you are right, when you know that what you are asking is justified, but you lack the coherent legal framework to request it. These are the cases where my creativity as a lawyer, together with the openness of the judge and her/his desire for social justice and equity come into play. I sometimes see situations apparently hopeless from a legal point of view, that manage somehow to be solved when one applies the spirit of the law.
On the other hand, as a lawyer, I have been in situations where I had to go to great lengths to make sure that my clients’ case is heard and not treated on a shallow level, especially because there are cases where minor details may have a major impact on the outcome.
d) Tell us about the most unique experience/project implemented in your current position.
One of the most unique projects I have been involved in relates to a case initiated against a public hospital in Romania, where the management refused to carry out the necessary administrative operations in order to ensure that a children’s dermatology department functions properly.
Although the legal framework regarding the establishment of this department was very vague, by means of an elaborate argumentation and the openness of the judge that saw the righteousness of our cases, we managed to obtain a favourable solution, in the sense that the hospital was finally obliged to offer all administrative support for the children’s department to function properly.
Apart from the fact that this case was very complex and raised many legal issues, the final result was also very rewarding, because all my efforts went to ensuring that a medical department would offer proper support to the hospital’s children patients.
e) When you explain to your parents/family what you do at work, how would you do it?
I would start by stating that it’s not exactly how they see it on TV (in Suits for example), but that there are many similarities, in the sense that I do plead cases in court in front of a judge (and not a jury) and that sometimes, preparation and a good speech can change the fate of a certain case-file.
I would also tell them that my role, as a lawyer, assures an important social function, namely that we are the means by which individuals with no specific legal training manage to obtain justice and have their rights recognised by the authorities.
f) What do you consider to be trends in your domain? Please list 3.
Taking into consideration the current technological advancement, the impact in the legal sector would be a greater digitalisation of court litigation.
I do believe things will evolve from an almost exclusively written (physical) manner of keeping court records to an exclusively digital manner of storing all information and procedural deeds. This will offer more flexibility for all parties involved to know and access the files on record, without the tedious need to go to court to study them.
Another trend that jump-started in the whole Covid-19 pandemic is that of setting specific hearing hours for each individual case. Before, all cases were set at a certain hour (9 am for example) regardless of the fact that it was obvious that it was physically and logically impossible for the judge to hear all cases at the same time.
Now, judges are starting to set various hours/time intervals which is highly beneficial both for parties and their representatives (since they do not have to wait long hours), but also for the judge who is more at ease to hear a certain case, not having the pressure of a multitude of people in the court room, waiting for their turn.
Thirdly, given the evolution of AI and automatization, I believe that certain minor cases shall no longer be settled in court (for example parking tickets), but solved by smart computers, based on the information given to it by the parties along with relevant legal provisions and case law.
g) What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop in the pioneering work?
I always ask myself while studying the clients’ files if there is another way to look at things. If I am presented with a seamlessly hopeless case, I always question the idea of being able to come with a new angle, a creative and innovative manner of understanding the law to prove my case.
Since our legal system is very complex, as a lawyer, you cannot limit yourself to a specific law or set of rules. Instead, you always must find new legal provisions or parallels with other legal fields to ensure your client’s success.