“I learnt that I am not a know-it-all and will allow myself to learn new things as we move along. I plan to remain humble and open to continuous learning,” says Francisc Peli, Partner and founder of PeliPartners law firm, in an interview for Romania-Insider.com.
He founded the firm in spring 2019 together with his wife Carmen Peli and with Oana Badarau after the split of law firm PeliFilip, which he co-founded. This is the second law firm he creates after having left NNDKP, one of the largest law firms in Romania, back in 2008 to go entrepreneurial. He talks about the learnings from the past 11 years as entrepreneur on the Romanian legal market.
You founded your first law firm during a crisis period (2008-2009) – what have you learnt from it and what do you plan to do differently when the so much talked about new crisis will come?
Indeed, 2008-2015 was a period of significant achievements for us. We went from zero to hero. We showed we can build against market conditions. What we learned was common sense: you need to adapt. You need to develop new senses and skills and new strategies. You need to see everything better and ahead of your competition, so that you can pitch your skills convincingly.
This is good learning for any crisis. We have now a partnership formula that works together for a long time and it proved to be extremely operative. We can be firefighters, but we can also be fluent in strategy. This is very important in times of crisis, whether financial or otherwise. We now have a firm which is robust, with no extra weight, which can move fast and be decisive for our clients and for ourselves.
What have you learnt in all these years as entrepreneur in the legal market in Romania?
There are some very simple principles that I follow:
Value always resurfaces. Don’t let yourself sidetracked by collateral stories.
The responsibility is yours. You are the leader; you are the one taking the risks.
If something goes wrong, act upon it. Act now. Don’t leave it aside, it will not go away. We are in such a though market that consequences will reach you fast. So, you’d better change the course.
If something goes right, most likely is not your merit. You cannot control everything, get used to it.
It is OK to be confident; it is not OK to be too confident. You will always have blind spots, be surrounded by people you trust so you can navigate at any sea.
How is this new start different for you and for the team, compared to the one 11 years ago?
It is hardly a new start for us. It is not a new start at all; it is the continuation of what we have been doing for a very long time. We are on the market at the highest level possible for 20 years now. We are part of a generation which has built the Romanian business legal consulting market. We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
But life brings changes. We decided to continue to operate under a format which will allow us to bring the focus on client service, technology updates in our profession and promotion of younger generation lawyers.
It is an injection of fresh ideas, but our experience and reputation are unchanged.
We are now 11 years wiser and we know what strengthens a brand of legal services. Now as then, we care deeply about our clients. And we get involved in their projects: we know all the rules and the schemes - we invented some of them…- but still enjoy it and look forward to seeing how the play unfolds.
Our team is great. With many of them we have worked for many years. Our lawyers are smart and talented, easy to work with and able to spot the flaw while also looking at the bigger picture.
For the core team here in PeliPartners, this is merely a change of location in which we operate; we work together for over 12 years and have a practice which advised on some of the largest projects of the last decade.
What are your growth and consolidation plans for the team of PeliPartners?
Size is important only to the extent it allows you to take on board any project while maintaining the quality of services; is not a goal by itself.
We are and we will remain a full-service firm. That is core to maintaining a competitive position. And we offer direct partner involvement in client matters – this was always our key edge on this market. Beyond that, we do not have a size objective – we will let our commercial success lead us.
We will most likely further consolidate in Dispute Resolution and Regulatory, but in all major practice areas we are covered and running with full speed.
How’s the real estate market in Romania now, judging by transactions? How has it changed in the last 4 to 5 years, as seen from the lawyers who structure and negotiate these deals?
Four-five years ago there was a lot of talk about transactions; but transactions themselves, less so. Now we are in a proper transactional market, with deals often exceeding EUR 100 mln. Portfolio deals are no longer a rarity – as is the case with newcomers. It is an exciting market today and we are happy to be part of it.
We have historically dominated the office deal list in Romania, but nowadays we have a fair share in retail and industrial/logistics as well. Also, we are involved in some of the largest real estate financing projects of recent years.
But we are not a real estate firm, we are a full-service firm. We have massive client base and projects in Banking, M&A and competition. We aim to find our balance and we involved in all major sectors of the economy.
How was your team retreat in Europe this year?
It was fun time. We skipped all corporate hassles (speeches, games, BS etc) and allowed ourselves to dive into whatever Madrid had to offer at its best – museums, parks and food. We split into adhoc groups and each enjoyed life after a busy spring.
When you started PeliPartners, you mentioned you have a non-dogmatic attitude. What does this mean in business law?
We live in a time of permanent change. Our clients are exposed to new challenges every day. We are experienced – but experience has its own traps: for example, one may come with the same old solutions to ever new problems. That is why we pledged for a permanent upgrade and update - so that we keep our eyes open and come up with the answers adequate to time and place.
How are young lawyers, 20 to 30, compared to the generation of lawyers who are now 40+?
There is an unfortunate misconception rolling around – that young people are less involved and determined to work hard. Actually, recent studies show the contrary: new generation are more willing to get involved provided (and this is important) that you bring proper challenges ahead of them, worthy of their talent and energy.
That is what we are trying to do at PeliPartners: Engage again. Bring old friends together, colleagues and clients. Show that we can adapt whatever the challenges. Convince youngsters that there are still available seats at the table. And that 44 is an age for big dreams. We are young ourselves and still have a lot to prove.
(photo courtesy of PeliPartners)