Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems
Spyros Evangelou, Partner & Head of S.A. Evangelou & Co LLC, the PwC Network Legal Practice in Cyprus, presents the firm and answers three topical questions relating to the legal profession.
What is the profile of your Legal Practice and Network?
A. EVANGELOU & CO LLC is a full member firm of the PwC International Network. PwC was the first big international firm to expand its legal services network in Cyprus in 2008. The PwC legal network is the largest in the world by geographic coverage, with 3,500 lawyers in more than 100 countries.
What is the profile of your team of lawyers?
Our Practice has a total of 36 lawyers, including two partners, two directors, nine other senior lawyers who work together and collaborate with our junior colleagues in teams to service our clients.
At our Practice we make sure that equal opportunities and inclusiveness are a key part of our business strategy. We invest in people and we focus on developing them to become the next-generation leaders.
What is your service delivery philosophy?
The PwC purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. In today’s world clients look for holistic solutions to their problems. We view our clients’ legal problems within the wider context of their business and personal background. We bring together the right mix of lawyers, consultants and financial advisers to help the client develop the best practical solution.
Our multi disciplined approach gives the client an end-to-end service without friction between different providers, facilitates early visibility of broader business and other material considerations so that we can proactively tell our clients things they don’t know and offer to our client an one key point of contact (locally and globally).
What is your service offering capability?
Our service offering capability (both at local and global level) covers all the needs of multinationals, corporate and private clients. In Cyprus our Practice has built a very strong and well-recognised expertise in corporate, private client and regulatory work. We have also built strong expertise in tax disputes and litigation, employee benefit schemes, privacy and data protection, AIFs/AIFMD, MiFID II investment firms, payment service providers and EMIs.
Our clients include big international and local clients, multinationals, high networth individuals and professionals.
What is your view about the digital transformation in the legal profession?
Legal tech and digital transformation in the legal profession has become a hot topic in recent years. That said, global surveys have shown that the dominant responses among law firms worldwide range from denial i.e. this will not affect the legal profession, to distinguishing i.e. this will not affect the services we provide to deferral i.e. we wait and see what we need to do in 5 to 10 years’ time.
Technology and digital transformation will affect all law firms (big, small, sole practitioners). Experience from other business sectors have shown that those who have ignored the disruption signals that technology and digital transformation send, have gone out of business.
Technology and digital transformation will inevitably make the service delivery more cost efficient. But law firms should also look at technology and digital transformation as a tool to improve service delivery ( in terms of value proposition to the client).
Based on current trends and market needs, it is clear that commoditized work, legal project management, due diligence, and compliance work will increasingly fall within the scope of technology and digital transformation. But legal services that require expertise and strategic thinking will always be in demand.
In my view law firms with the right market positioning, the right value proposition, the right resources (both in terms of technology but mainly people) and the right strategic alliances, will be successful and sustainable.
What are the challenges that the legal profession faces today in Cyprus?
The legal profession faces a lot of challenges and these are more or less common worldwide. I would highlight two which in my view are the biggest.
First, how to develop the young legal talent and prepare the leaders of the profession for the future. Global surveys show that the new generation of lawyers, as a rule, do not accept employment or decide to remain with their law firm on the basis of their remuneration and other financial benefits. Their priorities are, professional development, mentoring and career path and options. In terms of professional development, young lawyers look for the opportunity to obtain practical skills, to be involved in projects, to be given responsibility, to be challenged professionally and intellectually, to gain experiences. In terms of mentoring, they want a close professional relationship with senior lawyers from whom they expect insights and ongoing guidance and support. In terms of career progression and options, they want to know the requirements, the options and what they must do to progress to fulfil their aspirations which may not necessarily be to become partners in a law firm. I believe that the way the legal profession in Cyprus will address this challenge will shape its future.
How change ready is the legal profession in Cyprus (and globally) is in my view the second biggest challenge it faces today. Is the legal profession ready to adapt to the fast changing world? The increased market and client demands? The disruption and changes that technology will bring? Other market trends such as the creation of centres of excellence, the new methods of delivery of commodity legal work, the outsourcing of legal work, the insourcing and staffing of lawyers to law firms and clients on a temporary basis, the adoption of new business models, the new methods of financing complex legal cases such as fraud and tracing, the introduction of alternative billing methods (not necessarily success fee arrangements) and the introduction of subscription services?
In my view in order to be change ready, law firms in Cyprus must be ready to challenge long-established practices and perceptions and become more open minded to facilitate continued changes. They must also be ready to provide the resources and make the investments (in people and otherwise) required to achieve change.
In what ways can the legal system be improved to make Cyprus business environment more attractive?
The legal system plays a significant role in building and sustaining the attractiveness and reputation of a jurisdiction which aspires to be an attractive business environment. In my view the Cyprus legal system has played such a role in putting Cyprus on the map of international business centers. It is generally business friendly and can provide flexible and innovative solutions to both corporate and private clients.
It is well recognized that action is needed to further improve the Cyprus legal system. The reform of the judicial system and the civil procedures rules, the digitalization of court processes, the consolidation of major legal/ regulatory frameworks, are some of the much needed reforms.
How to make the business environment in Cyprus more attractive, is a strategic discussion that the private and the public sector must have together. The legal system should not be viewed in isolation in this discussion. In my view to make the business environment in Cyprus more attractive, we do not simply need a good legal and judicial system that ensures that businesses and people can pursue, enforce and protect their rights speedily. We do not simply need an attractive tax system. We must make Cyprus more attractive to businesses and people to come here and set presence, operate, work and live. And to do so we must pay close attention to the economic, political and social trends in order to address the wider needs of corporate and private clients.