Legal Outside the Box. What does this mean? In today's interview, the multi-awarded, internationally acknowledged lawyer Alexandru George Lazar shows his great passion for law, his >100% dedication for any customer, his personal philosophy and many more. Originating from Bucharest, living for many years in beautiful Barcelona, Alexandru is definitely one of the most interesting Romanian I have met lately! There are many things I've learned from our dialogue, so you have every reason to invite him in your life!
Name: Alexandru George Lazar
Abroad since: 2003
Living in: Barcelona
Current occupation: Lawyer / Partner at Intlaw Abogados y Consultores; Associated Professor at the Law School of Pompeu Fabra University; Academic Director of the LLM in Compliance at EIS; Partner at Rise Consortium
TGR: So many important roles, and less than 10 years of career... Very impressive, congratulations! What do you think a young lawyer needs in order to follow your footsteps?
AGL: Thank you, you are too kind. I think you need a cocktail made by several ingredients:
(a) to believe in something and to have principles;
(b) family and friends (without the support of my family and specially of my wife, no step forward would have been possible);
(c) education (the one you learn before you go to school, defined as “respect for others”);
(d) constant learning: from school (I was average at school since I was unmotivated) to university, post-university (LLM, PHD), day by day continuous learning;
(e) commitment and constancy; and
(f) love for your job/field.
I love law and learning about law. I love being a lawyer. Even my name Alexandru suits for a lawyer - means from Greek “the one who protects the people”!
And I love teaching, which I consider the essence of altruism: you give know how to your future competitors.
From all the international awards, performances, all the bridges built between Spain and Romania, which is the accomplishment you are mostly proud of and why?
I am proud of all the steps made, even the little ones. Each award means something special but also an obligation - to continue this path and to keep working hard.
To be linked to the Law Academy is not only a motive to be proud, but a privilege and a reason to be humbled. You get the chance to analyze your field, and learn from the best (I am referring to the fact that I was recently named academic member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Legislation and Jurisprudence and to the fact that I am an associated professor at UPF and an Academic Director at EIS).
But is equally important to me that I studied at Granada Law School (one of the most ancient Law Schools in Spain and in the world – dates since 1531) and graduated with honors at 13 fields; studied at ISDE; started my professional career at Baker & McKenzie (the number one law firm in the world); continued my career at Ramon y Cajal Abogados (one of the best law firms in Spain).
Each one of these steps are special and unique, therefore would be impossible to only choose one.
Have you always pictured yourself as an international lawyer? Where did this strong passion come from?
This is because of my life: I lived alone abroad since I was 18. Since then, all my activities, relations were with people from all over the world. I am a son of the world; a world which we call global. All is international or global today. For example, we can see that we all live internationally by virtue of our food: we are eating Chinese, American, Mexican, Japanese, Arabic food in almost any town in Europe. Even our diet is international.
Therefore, our professions must also be designed and implemented at an international level. It is true that being a lawyer is a local profession, but I consider that in these times a lawyer should think globally. At least a Corporate and M&A Lawyer, since his/her clients are often trading at an international level.
Please briefly explain your current responsibilities.
At IntLaw, I am a partner of the Corporate and M&A department, the director of the CEE Desk and the Director of the Compliance Department. My main responsibilities, and this applies to all the lawyers at our firm, are the clients. Our DNA is that a partner must be involved directly and in direct contact with the client. We are here to assist and provide our clients with the counsel needed. Another responsibility is the one regarding our corporate image and the coordination of teamwork in several projects.
At EIS, I am the Academic Director of the LLM in Compliance. Actually, this LLM is a project I started years ago, it is a dream come true. I structured the academic program from scratch, and suggested the professors to EIS. The LLM, from its 2nd edition, will be in partnership with the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos from Madrid, and I will be co-Director with a colleague from there. In the near future, I can advance that this LLM will go globally, since we are reaching an agreement with a top university from US.
At Rise Consortium, the newest project based in Romania, my role is to represent them in Spain and to offer my know how to potential clients. Rise offers full, integrated packages for foreign investors who seek to develop their presence on the local market and support businesses seeking to serve global markets or expand abroad in Romania.
What about your main finding as a researcher? I can see how your contribution is highly valued, but I am wondering what is it that you forever changed through your work.
The purpose of research of my PhD is Microcredits and IMFS (Non-Banking Financial Institutions). We are learning this field to apply it in Spain and my thesis has the purpose to make a proposal to insert the adequate legal framework in Spain. This field is important because its main scope is to reinsert in the society the citizens which are financially excluded. I hope that, once finalized, I will be able to make such de lege ferenda proposal. Nevertheless, you must bear in mind that I am a young researcher and, therefore, the important findings, if any, are expected to occur after several years.
Can you tell me something only you can do in your attorney office?
At IntLaw, we strongly believe in teamwork and specialization. We also consider that specialization without teamwork is useless, since law is a complex science and all areas must communicate (corporate, commercial, regulatory, criminal, civil etc.).
I am specialized in M&A, Commercial and Compliance Law. What I do best is that I am passionate about Law and I am fully committed to each case equally. I am not only providing the advice required, but I am also thinking outside the box. This is actually the name of my blog - Legal Outside the Box. Give a “big picture” advice to the client is what I do best. My motto is “prevention, not reparation”.
Could you name an important client you have represented, and how did you help him/her?
Yes, that's easy: all of them. All my clients are important to me. I make no difference between clients, the time dedicated to a client and the quality of the work. Each one is treated as if it would be our last and unique client. The bound between a lawyer and a client is made by trust. Therefore, if someone honors you by trusting its/his/her issue/problem, you must treat said case with 100% professionalism and dedication.
How do you motivate yourself to always keep this passion alive?
I read in a book this quote: “Each morning you find 1.440 euros (a day is composed of 1.440 minutes). You can give the money to someone else, spend the money for leisure or burn the money. But, remember that the money you don’t use at the end of the day will disappear" (is my translation form Spanish). So I believe in living each second as it may be the last one on this beautiful world.
And I also have a personal philosophy. This is mine and for the first time will be public!
Let's start with a question: Which is your preferred food? Let’s suppose that the answer is French fries with eggs. Would you be able to only eat French fries with eggs from the age of 18 to 70, each day except weekends and holidays? The answer is NO. Therefore, I strongly consider that if you love your profession - as I love being a lawyer - you should change from time to time your favorite profession or, even better, said profession should be combined with another professional activity.
If you do this, you will always enjoy French fries with eggs, and would not be “burned out” by your profession.
So, to answer your question, I see all my professional activities as leisure, not an obligation. Therefore, I enjoy each second of these activities.
With such a busy schedule, do you still have time for yourself? How do you spend it in a beautiful city like Barcelona?
Yes I do. I always maintain a balance between profession, family, friends, leisure and others.
In Barcelona you can, in the same day, climb the little mountain, take a bath at the beach, have a walk or see Gaudi’s works of art. Each first Sunday, you can visit all the museums in Barcelona for free. To that you can add all leisure activities everyone knows about.
Barcelona is a great city, a city with its own heart.
In all these years, do you feel you have missed any important opportunitiy?
I am very optimistic and never look back. So the answer is no, also because God and life gave me many opportunities I fully enjoyed.
What are your current feelings towards Romania?
First of all, I feel love. I love Romania.
I love all the countries in the world. But, it is obvious that I have two special countries: Romania and Spain.
Romania is where I learned to speak, to smell the grass and the flowers, to walk, to say “Jos Comunismul”, “Libertate”, “Democratie”. Is the place where I was educated and also where I went to school.
Talking about school, I am so grateful for all the professors at Miguel de Cervantes High School in Bucharest. As I said, I was a middle level student, probably because the educational system in Romania was not meant to motivate you nor to appreciate you for thinking outside the box. Nevertheless, all my teachers were very very dedicated to preparing us for life, even if society does not give teachers the respect they truly deserve.
Romania is the place where my roots are, but Spain is where I became an adult, where I started and finished my university studies (I am still a PhDC), where I started and developed my career, where I found the love of my life, where I made a lot of friends... Where I have my main activity. Spain give me all of that. In Spain, I learned to love diversity, multiculturality, to respect other opinions, to work hard, to know that by working hard you will achieve your dreams, to learn how a real democracy is. Therefore, I am grateful to all the Spanish people for being so kind and to give me so much, without asking anything in change.
Is there anything in Romania you cannot find back home in Barcelona?
I am optimistic as I already mentioned so I will tell you the good things only: family and friends, the smell of good tomatoes and the beautiful parks we have in Bucharest...
Please tell me something particular about Romania that you would usually say to a foreign friend.
I say all my friends that in Romania there is a mix of cultures and landscapes. In Romania, you can travel in time if you love nature: if you go to villages in Romania you travel 100 years ago - this is very bucolic for a traveler but no so funny for the one who lives there on a daily basis...
That we have great culture, that you can go to the opera for a very good price; that Romanians are warm people. Regarding this, I have a Japanese friend, he is a CEO in Barcelona, and he traveled to Romania without booking hotels. He was traveling and knowing new people and by saying that he seeks for a place to sleep, all of them invited him, without asking money, to spend the night at their place. This can only happen in Romania.
Do you see yourself moving back? What could convince you?
At this point, I am not having the intention of moving back to Romania. It is hard to say what could convince me. I have my family and my friends and professional activity here. All I have started to build is in Spain. However, just remember, "life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
What is your biggest dream?
To be a good person, to be able to make happy the people I know and those I don’t know, to be a better person and to enjoy life together with my wife and family. At the end of the journey, to be able to say that I made my best.
The Golden Romania
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