-What is the work culture like at AKL? What sets it apart from other firms?
Ariti: In my opinion, the working environment is a factor of the utmost importance and that's because it determines your everyday life, but also the quality of your work. At AKL we are very lucky to be part of a team that from the very first moment welcomed us with great pleasure and made us feel that we were part of it. It is really great to feel comfortable to ask for help and also to be sure that you will get it! At the same time, it is extremely important to know that the legal work provided is of a very high quality and that the knowledge you will gain is correct (which is by no means a given!).
Tomasz: AKL’s values and norms create a particularly welcoming and friendly work environment that likely distinguishes it from a lot of other law firms. First and foremost, the firm fosters collegiality, collaboration, and mutual support, in contrast to an individualistic and competitive work culture. Furthermore, communication channels with the partners are always open to the associates, and we are constantly encouraged to share ideas, concerns and feedback without any fear of reprisal, to use our sense of humour and to speak with them on a first-name basis. Finally, AKL recognizes the hard work and celebrates the accomplishments of its team members in a variety of ways.
-How do the partners and senior lawyers in the firm contribute to the growth and development of young associates?
Ariti: From the very first moment it became clear to us that we have to feel free to ask what we don't know, because this is the only way to move forward and advance professionally, as a team and as individuals. What is really great in AKL is that each experienced lawyer specializes in a different field, so we have a great variety of possibilities to seek for the right guidance. Besides, the firm always supports its associates in their academic development by encouraging them to participate in legal conferences and publications!
Tomasz: The firm’s partners and senior lawyers are always willing to transfer their vast legal knowledge and professional experience to young associates and trainee lawyers. This becomes evident during the team meetings and mentoring sessions held by partners, where they eagerly share their expertise with us, often independently of specific projects. Furthermore, they assign us meaningful work that aligns with our interests and skill sets and involve us in client meetings, negotiations, and courtroom proceedings, allowing us to gain hands-on experience and build confidence. Lastly, they are highly supportive of our academic advancement.
-Could you provide an example of a successful collaboration between different domains or practice areas within the firm?
Ariti: The existence of different sectors in our firm does not imply the existence of borders between us. It is very common for us to work with our colleagues from another sector in order to provide a comprehensive legal support to one of our clients. For example, we, the “Real Estaters”, are currently cooperating with the Dispute Resolution sector on a very interesting case with multiple properties and complex legal issues.
Tomasz: Legal due diligence performed on companies who seek financing would be a good example of cross-departmental collaboration at AKL. In these types of projects, the firm’s corporate, real estate and dispute resolution teams would work closely together in order to investigate all aspects of the company’s corporate status, its freehold and leasehold properties, contracts and lawsuits. It would then be our banking specialists’ role to draft the loan agreements based on the findings of the due diligence, and in general to monitor the financing process.
-How does AKL ensure the production of high-quality legal work?
Ariti: Working in AKL is not a lonely path. We have constant communication and consultation with our colleagues and partners, with control mechanisms in place in order to be sure for the high quality of our work. Besides, the firm keeps supporting its associates to participate in and attend seminars so that we can keep up with the latest legal developments and to get as well equipped as possible.
Tomasz: The attorneys working at AKL receive clear guidelines on the firm’s expectations and standards regarding the quality of legal work. These standards include the thorough reviewing of case files and documents, comprehensive research in case law and legal theory in order to produce well-founded arguments and strategies, regular case discussions and brainstorming, as well as striking the ideal balance between complex legal reasoning and clear verbal expression. What is more, the partners combine profound academic skills (some of them even holding doctorate degrees) with a strong business acumen, which is highly appreciated by clients.
-What professional development opportunities are available to young associates at the firm?
Ariti: As already mentioned, we are more than lucky to have our firm supporting us to develop our legal skills and knowledges through seminars, conferences, and publications. It is an aspect not shared by every lawyer who practices law, but for me, who has a particular passion for academia, it is something I value very much and from the very beginning I was encouraged to proceed with legal writing. Moreover, as the time goes by, we have the opportunity to take more and more responsibilities and handle more complex legal issues (always having the experienced associates by our side) and therefore feel more comfortable with ourselves and our competences.
Tomasz: The firm facilitates our professional development by providing opportunities for both internal training and attending external conferences and seminars, as well as by strongly encouraging legal writing, not only for the “Knowledge Center” section of AKL’s website, but also for reputable Greek and international legal publications. Furthermore, as a former trainee lawyer and now an associate at AKL, Ι can personally attest to the joy of being progressively assigned to all the more stimulating tasks; having started from assisting experienced attorneys with legal research and discretely attending client meetings, I am now often entrusted with drafting portions of due diligence reports myself, as well as actively participating in these meetings.
-Can you share some examples of notable achievements or accolades that AKL has received in recent years?
Ariti: We are very lucky to be part of a team constantly evolving and thriving, which forms active part of the emerging legal reality in Greece. We have the chance to daily get in touch with very distinctive clients who desire to or already do business in Greece, and it is very exciting to read in papers and different legal or business forums about a project you have been part of!
Tomasz: The firm has been internationally recognised for its counseling services in a wide range of high-profile projects including real estate development, licensing, M&As, joint ventures, corporate finance, acquisition finance, project finance and many others, as well for its successful handling of numerous challenging litigation cases. AKL and its people have been consistently receiving top rankings from prestigious legal directories such as Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500, and it is also worth mentioning that the firm won the CEE Legal Matters 2022 “Deal of the Year” award for Greece.
-What are AKL’s core values?
Ariti: I strongly believe that the core values of AKL are not just inspiring words but do reflect the reality. I suppose that, from all the above, one may have already suspected that if there is something I admire in this firm is that its partners, but also its experienced associates, are imbued with insight, each in his and her own field. For a young lawyer at the beginning of his or her professional life, as we are, it is extremely important to know that we learn from highly qualified professionals that will -and are willing to- teach us the right things! This is directly connected to trust, which does exist among our team (this feeling when a partner or a more experienced associate uses your findings in a legal report is so fascinating!), but also within our clients, who show absolute confidence in our advice. At the same time, it is so inspiring for young professionals, as we are, to see more experienced lawyers not only to maintain passion for their work, but also share it daily with us and make us bring out our best!
Tomasz: As indicated by its motto, the values of insight, trust, and passion are instrumental in shaping the practices of AKL. Firstly, the firm prioritises the deep understanding of both the law and the details of each case, as well as foresight, and the ability to provide unique and outside-the-box perspectives to its clients. Secondly, the partners are always working towards establishing their connections with clients on the basis of integrity, reliability, and consistent delivery of high-quality legal services, which is evidenced by the long-lasting relationships that they have forged with them. Last but not least, they are enthusiastic about the challenge of providing personalized attention to meet each client's specific needs, as well as about staying updated with the latest legal developments and constantly enhancing their skills. They also strive to motivate and inspire their younger colleagues to do the same.
-What advice would you give to a young lawyer?
Ariti: If I were to address the 23-year-old Ariti, just after having graduated from Law School, I would recommend her to look for opportunities to build mentor relationships within the workplace, as there is something valuable to be gained from everyone. In a field characterized by ambiguities, uncertainty, and divergent approaches, it is extremely important to feel comfortable expressing your queries and concerns to experienced lawyers whom you trust and admire. Also, do not forget to take care of your mental and physical well-being, because it is a one-way road to being good at your job!
Tomasz: A useful piece of advice for young lawyers, in my opinion, would be to start developing other skills that complement their legal expertise as early as possible. Improve your negotiation, presentation, and interpersonal skills, sharpen your business understanding and embrace new technologies. These types of skills will make you more well-rounded, efficient, agreeable, and ultimately, sought-after professionals.