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VIA BONA SLOVAKIA 2015

Lawyers pursuing change

Law firm TaylorWessing wins top Via Bona award for SMEs

TaylorWessing lawyers (Source: Courtesy of TaylorWessing)

IN THE film “A Beautiful Mind” mathematician and Nobel prize laureate John Nash said that the system works only when an individual does what is good for him as well as the system. The law firm TaylorWessing actually applies this principle to its operations in Slovakia, where a clean business environment and strong rule of law are important for society itself but also for their clients.

When those conditions are lacking, firms stop investing or developing their activities in Slovakia and the law firm loses clients. This is the reason why, for TaylorWessing, the pursuit of a clean and transparent business environment is not only a general effort that benefits partners, employees and then also their own children, but also care about customer service, said Radovan Pala, one of the firm’s partners.

Voice grows with size

Lawyers Andrej Leontiev and Pala launched the law firm in 2004. The firm gradually increased to more than 25 employees and now TaylorWessing ranks among the largest law firms in Slovakia.

Read also:Pontis awards responsible firms

“Since the very beginning we realised that a clean business environment and good enforceability of law are beneficial for our clients – who are mostly, but not only, foreign investors,” said Pala. “We are convinced that corruption deforms competition.”

During years 2006-2010 the firm noticed that the business environment was worsening. Surveys confirm this impression. A survey of Eurobarometer across Europe focusing on the attitude of businesses to corruption that the European Commission published in December 2015 listed Slovakia in the sixth worst position in the 28-member European Union with as many as 58 percent of businesspeople in Slovakia considering corruption to be a problem. Only Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and Slovenia performed worse.

TaylorWessing perceives this a direct endangering of its clientele.

“Because our law firm grew, we realised that our size and success on the market gave weight to our voice,” said Pala. “Thus as we used expressing our views on topical problems in media over long term, we started to devote to and comment on several issues systematically.”

TaylorWessing representatives say that for them, as a performance-oriented law firm, corporate social responsibility is not about moralising, but that they arrive with concrete and practical solutions and support sensible projects.

The result is that especially Leontiev and Pala, but also other lawyers in the firm, are spending a certain part of their productive work by providing advice, consultancy and comments for non-governmental organisations and media or they participate in pro bono projects with an aim on improving the legal environment in Slovakia. For example, the law firm provides consultancy to non-governmental organisations focusing on transparency, uncovering of corruption and manipulation in public procurement and improving of the business environment including the Fair-Play Alliance, Transparency International Slovensko or the Slovak Governance Institute.

People are the most important assets

Part of corporate social responsibility in TaylorWessing is that they do not use the mandatory five-year practice of trainee lawyers for securing a cheap labour force. And because they consider people to be most important assets the law firm holds, each partner invests a large portion of time into education and cooperation with younger colleagues. The firm also, financially or other wise, supports the further education and professional growth of younger colleagues.

“We believe that in our law firm we have fostered several exceptionally smart and simultaneously morally-anchored young lawyers,” said Pala.

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Topic: Corporate Responsibility


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