Piotr Kochański: there are many good lawyers, but you need to be able to combine them effectively into a team
‘Divergent thinking is what counts’, says Piotr Kochański, Senior Managing Partner in the law firm named “Law firm of the year: Central Europe” by “The Lawyer”.
According to the Awards Committee, your firm leads the way in innovation, has a strategic approach to expansion in the region and has developed a unique organisational culture.
This award is like an Oscar in the Legal World. The Awards Committee is made up of more than a hundred experts, and the list of candidates is long. There is a battle for the legal market in Central Europe, and among other Czechs, for instance, are being particularly active – they are developing aggressively and exploring the Region, including Poland.
Is this award a recognition for your overall performance or for something specific?
There can be no overall performance without specific achievement. We have been involved in major transactions. We represented the AccorInvest Group in the purchase of shares in the Orbis SA hotel chain and work on Warsaw, Paris and London line. In cooperation with Pinsent Masons Law Firm from London, our global partner, we acquired the assets of Echo Investment, in what was the largest real estate transaction in Poland ever, worth over PLN 5 billion. We can say that we have already developed our certain brand of the Law Firm, which understands that effective marketing of legal services is sector marketing.
What do you mean by sector marketing?
There are many good lawyers. But you need to be able to combine them effectively into a team, blend their skills and expertise cleverly in order to adapt to market needs. An excellent team without clients and assignments is a historical example of wishful thinking. We want to be where the future lies in technology, infrastructure, energy, real estate, finance, banking, and advanced manufacturing and services such as pharmaceuticals, media, automotive and the capital market sectors. We are here to assist Polish companies wishing to get access to capital markets abroad, including the world largest London Capital Market. We provide advice, handle transactions, litigation and international arbitration.
What is the law firm management model that has won the Award Committee recognition?
We are building a “turquoise“ organisation. This is the most effective model where everyone has equal rights and duties in suggesting and setting priorities and running projects. These structure is considered to be the most effective and is the opposite of the red structure – the most authoritarian one. When building a turquoise organisation, you need to have your own system of managing people, finances and development. I think this is what the Committee has appreciated most: our innovation and unconventional thinking, based on openness and focus on the continuous involvement of each and every member of our staff in the best interests of the whole organization.
And how do you do that?
The essential element is communication: a smooth and secure flow of information within the organisation and in contacts with our clients. To this end, we have been building our own IT system for 19 years. We have built a platform via which we manage the firm, its finances and marketing, communicate with clients, provide clients with online access to documents from our archives, monitor the progress of cases on an ongoing basis, and handle transactions. We are also beginning to introduce our next priority: artificial intelligence in technology for lawyers. We have already been recognized for our innovations, and among others by the “Financial Times”.
Will AI replace lawyers or will there be anything left for them?
Our profession will not disappear. People will always have to manage themselves according to rules, regulations, contracts and laws, just as they will always need to eat, have medical treatment and pray. But legal knowledge alone is not enough. You also need to be innovative and think outside the box. Those who develop with these requirements in mind will survive the upcoming changes.
Or maybe it is about people’s ability to find non-standard solutions?
AI has its limits – those imposed by man. The human brain has no such limits, though we do not know yet to what extent we are using our brain. The breakthrough in remote communication and data transfer has already been made. Now it is the ICT systems supporting law firm management that will determine who will remain in the market and expand their opportunities, while being more affordable than others.
Has the pandemic overturned the situation and redefined the life of law firms?
No one in the world was prepared for the pandemic. It was a shock to everyone that this could actually be happening today. However, we had already made the shift to a more technological work model and so could rapidly make key decisions about moving to home office, and comply with the sanitary regime.
Did you have any concerns?
I did. But it turned out that we are able to work this way. People stopped working 8 hours a day, and now work often continues for 24 hours a day.
And is this good or not?
It is good for the firm. And for the human mind? Well, we can’t work non-stop. And we live not to work, but to be happy. Our work should be a blessing, not a curse. We had to adapt our Home Office System, learn how to work and still make time to rest. We are still in the process of learning.
Interview in Rzeczpospolita