In February of this year CEE Legal Matters reported that Partner Octavian Popescu had left Musat & Asociatii to set up his own firm: Popescu & Asociatii. CEELM sat down with Popescu to learn more about his new firm and his plans for the future.
CEELM: What brought this change about? What inspired you to set up your own office after over 14 years with your former firm?
OCTAVIAN: My first instinct is simply to say: the need to evolve and to move on. I’ve said it many times: I think that, like elsewhere in CEE, the Romanian legal market has experienced, during the past decade, a large number of spin-offs, both boutiques and full-service law firms, with most of them now competing with longer-established players in terms of quality of services provided, expertise, and portfolio of clients. Under these circumstances, as a colleague told me more or less as a joke, my departure from Musat wasn’t a surprise, but an anticipated move by those who know me. Popescu & Asociatii came as a natural step in my evolution, as it is compatible both with the experience I have gained and the vision of what I want to do in the upcoming years.
Together with my colleagues – both partners and associates – I will continue to bring value to the quality of the legal services our clients are used to, and to be the legal consultant they need for their most difficult and sensitive matters.
CEELM: Now, as a few months have passed since your launch, can you tell us the composition of your team and how it will be structured?
OCTAVIAN: Our team consists of 16 attorneys – out of which four are partners, with proven experience both in the consultancy and litigation fields: me, Dana Bivol (Caciula-Stan), Adrian Chirvase, and Loredana Popescu.
Dana has great capabilities in the legal field. For the last decade, she has been covering dispute resolution, corporate & commercial, banking & finance, restructuring & insolvency, and competition & antitrust matters. As part of her experience as a pleading lawyer, Dana has represented clients in complex cases involving contractual and tort liabilities, corporate law, and cases involving the annulment of documents issued by administrative, fiscal, and custom authorities.
Adrian has handled, over the last few years, numerous criminal cases involving well-known companies and Romanian businessmen, focusing his activity on corporate compliance, regulatory, and surveillance and corporate investigations. He provides specialized advice both in front of prosecution bodies and in relevant courts in Romania, achieving remarkable results in high-importance projects that include economic crimes, tax evasion and money laundering, and cybercrime and corruption cases, as well as providing legal assistance to companies who are subject to criminal or administrative investigations.
Loredana brings a thorough and solid knowledge of the Romanian civil and commercial law, advising European companies during negotiations and business transfers, regularly representing a substantial number of domestic and international corporations (and individuals) in negotiations related to the prevention or termination of disputes. Loredana focuses on commercial, civil, and administrative matters, including capital markets and share capital issues and shareholder disputes, as well real estate litigation, including claims involving the restitution of nationalized properties and expropriation, and incidents related to enforcement procedures.
I will continue to handle commercial, corporate, administrative, civil litigation, and restructuring & insolvency matters, and together with my colleagues from our white-collar crime department, we will focus on establishing a preventive approach aiming to providing the earliest identification of legal risks with potential criminal relevance in companies’ economic and commercial activity.
We designed Popescu & Asociatii for every lawyer to be an important piece of our business, and to have each be appreciated and valued for his knowledge and potential, for his personal abilities, and for his capacity to bring value. Every lawyer in the company is an important asset, and that’s why we greatly appreciate the stability and the direction in which each of them intends to develop.
We want to approach and attract new and experienced professionals, who are passionate about their work, and who will easily adhere to the quality standards and values of Popescu & Asociatii: integrity, trust, and confidentiality. We are actively recruiting, and I can confirm that, starting this June, various top lawyers from the Romanian market will join our team.
CEELM: What practice areas do you already cover, and which ones are you planning on adding in the near future?
OCTAVIAN: From the first beginning, we founded Popescu & Asociatii as a full-service law firm to provide our partners with integrated and complete legal services in all the relevant areas of practice, and especially in all industries of interest for active economic players.
We started by focusing on the well-established practices such as Litigation, Criminal Law, Restructuring and Insolvency, Competition and Antitrust, and Banking and Finance – areas that generate and will bring business in the upcoming period. Indeed, the workload exceeded our expectations during our first few months. We pay special attention to and invest in all the legal aspects related to prevention and compliance, including in the field of criminal business law, as our main advantage is having a solid knowledge of local regulations, together with an ability to advise clients, understand the risks, and reduce the impact that non-compliance can have on transactions and day-to-day operations.
We target both local and international players, including private equity funds and financial institutions, and we do not neglect the potential of local entrepreneurs. We are very active on M&A/corporate & commercial and real estate, and we are currently assisting one of the largest retailers in Romania during the expansion of its network of stores and the acquisition of other competitors on the Romanian market, and we are assisting one of the most important players in the debt collection market in CEE in connection with the merger of its Romanian subsidiaries. Our current activity also includes representation in important criminal cases, commercial and administrative litigation, claw-back tax, various unfair competition practices and state aid matters, computer fraud, restructuring and insolvency, GDPR-implementation, as well as providing tailor-made solutions for the restructuring of economic operators’ activity, the settlement of numerous disputes between shareholders, and so on.
We already have a consistent portfolio and we are happy to see that a significant number of clients have decided to ask for our advice from the very beginning, which makes us confident and gives us the energy to continue with great optimism.
CEELM: Everyone talks about their excellent expertise and client service. What are you most driven to do differently in your new firm than what you already see in the market? What will your unique selling point be?
OCTAVIAN: It is true; all law firms want to highlight their expertise and high level of client service to position themselves as a leading player on the market and to make a difference. But for clients there is nothing more important than having a lawyer they can trust. The clients, whether we talk about corporations or businessmen, are individuals with emotions, and are thus constantly looking for a human relationship with their attorney.
We consider our clients to be our partners, in fact, and we believe that we have a duty to protect their assets and the confidentiality of their legal affairs – to be more than legal-service providers, and to make a positive impact on the business of those who we come into contact with. We strive to accomplish this through our work.
At Popescu & Asociatii, we don’t just solve legal problems, we prevent them, by developing compliance mechanisms for our clients to follow to ensure smooth running of their day-to-day activities. Being alert to potential problems allows us to solve problems before they ripen into disputes or other legal consequences, saving our clients money and allowing them to focus their attention and resources where they belong: on their business.
CEELM: What are your growth plans? Where do you see Popescu & Asociatii in five years?
OCTAVIAN: In three words: Strong,
Stable, and Recognized.
We began with major advantages: the founding partners have managed, over the last decade, mandates and cases from well-known companies and have always delivered actual results, finding one of a kind legal solutions and building intelligent strategies to protect and develop the businesses of their clients.
Popescu & Asociatii will follow the same path as its lawyers, who are known to be strong and trustworthy professionals, and will provide its clients an innovative approach to the legal issues they face, always keeping the focus on results, integrity, and confidentiality.
In other situations, I would say that time will tell. This time, Popescu & Asociatii’s story will be written by the results, and by the feedback from its most important assessors: its clients.
This Article was originally published in Issue 6.4 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.