The French legal tech business Predictice expanded to the Luxembourg market in 2020. They recently published a white paper: “The law, boldness and innovation”. Pierre-Yves Magerotte, co-founder of our Luxembourg member firm LexField was one of the 17 Luxembourg based lawyers who was interviewed. The below text is an informal translation of the interview. To read the full white paper (in French) it can be downloaded here (sign up required).
You started your career in a large audit firm, following this with some time spent as a lawyer in an independent legal firm. In 2009 you founded Lexfield. What was the motivation behind this change in direction?
I began my career as a tax advisor for PWC Luxembourg. This period was a great learning experience, but after three years there I felt limited in terms of direct client contact and the ability to build my own client base. I chose to join an independent business law firm in order to have such direct contact with clients. When I joined it was still a relatively small firm, but it grew quickly to a firm with over 70 lawyers. With this firm I was able to learn the profession, observe how firms were managed and build my own client base and teams. I was also able to launch the estate planning practice. I learned a lot, both from a technical and entrepreneurial perspective.
I was a young, ambitious lawyer with an entrepreneurial mindset, and I wanted to create my own practice. When I was 29 the firm went in a direction which didn’t suit me, so I decided to create my own law firm. Some of my clients followed me, which allowed me to get started.
What challenges have you faced as founding partner?
First of all we needed to find a name. LexField was one of the first firms in Luxembourg that the Bar agreed could use a generic name, rather than the names of the partners. It was one of my partners who had this brilliant idea.
The second challenge was to develop a client base. We quickly joined an international legal network which helped us find our first files. We chose a network of similar types of firms to LexField – it is important to be able to share the same problems, to support each other and to share and obtain advice. What’s more the network allowed us to expand LexField’s services to international clients. I personally got as involved with the network as I could, particularly developing tax law projects.
Another important matter was to find colleagues with the same vision for the profession. We set up the firm as a partnership to begin with, but I quickly realised that it would be difficult to share a common vision in this legal form. This is why I decided to create a limited company. This allowed us to better work together towards a common goal. The idea of building a team of people who share the entrepreneurial mindset, who want to be involved in the management, development, and evolution of the firm, was what I really wanted from the beginning and makes up the DNA of LexField. This is also one of our strengths: when a company manager asks our advice on a problem, we are well placed to give good advice, because as entrepreneurs we have often faced and overcome similar obstacles.
The most recent challenge we have faced concerns the multifaceted and constantly developing regulations regarding tax, AML and terrorist funding: these regulations lead to a need for specific staff and various preventative measures and procedures which are time consuming for the firm.
Why did you choose a generic name?
Having a multi-jurisdictional practice and working for international clients, we first of all wanted a name that would be recognisable internationally. We also wanted to differentiate ourselves from the traditional law partnerships. Finally, it is much easier to involve people or new partners in a project if the name is generic.
What are the long-term plans of the firm?
From the beginning the firm has been built on four pillars: private wealth, private equity, investment funds and mergers & acquisitions. Starting with a blank slate, our goal was to position LexField as a firm known for its expertise and advice in these four specialities. We are achieving this goal, which is demonstrated by our presence in several rankings of various legal guides.
In the context of an ever more complex and restrictive regulatory environment, businesses and entrepreneurs are under enormous pressure. To answer our clients’ needs both efficiently and accurately, our strategy is to reinforce our teams and develop expertise in specific fields, such as, for example, sustainable financing or insurance. We also want our lawyers to have a 360-degree viewpoint of the cases they work on: it is important that each lawyer understands the matter and responds correctly, be that in investment funds, tax law or company law. We believe that our colleagues need to learn to be entrepreneurs: they need to understand the workings of a firm, know how to find new clients, how to approach them, how to offer the appropriate solution to their problems, and persuade them to work with us. The goal is to prepare them to become partners and ensure the future of the firm.
How do you visualise the legal profession ten years from now?
This is an extremely complex question. Before thinking about ten years down the line we will need to navigate the post-Covid situation. The ability to work from home and have flexibility has become a priority for today’s workforce. Younger employees need to be empowered, and a trusting relationship is the basis for this. Freedom and autonomy are extremely enriching for everyone, as long as there remain opportunities to meet up and exchange ideas.
I think as well that there will be an exponential growth of legal tech which will allow for faster preparation of documents and legal research. On this topic, the way we research legal issues has already radically changed. My father was a lawyer and had a far bigger library of law books than I do now. Nowadays we have access to masses of case law thanks to powerful and accurate search engines. In ten years, everything will move faster. Much more will be digitalised which will allow us to save precious time. But thoughtfulness and creativity will remain central to lawyers’ work.