PLG Firm in Focus : Tetra Law, Belgium

  1. Could you briefly summarise the history of the firm?

 

Tetra Law was founded in 2012.

 

Four attorneys from a prestigious Belgian law firm – accompanied at that time by three staff employees and two associates – decided to join forces to create a new business law firm. Their intention was to create a law firm that would exist and be thriving because of its expertise and its talents, rather than only attached to the personality of its founders. Internal growth, promotion of young(er) talents, legal expertise and strong branding of the firm were at heart of the project from the very beginning.

 

A little more than 10 years after its foundation, the firm counts 4 partners, 4 counsels, 10 lawyers (associates and trainees) and 10 employees.

 

Nowadays, its 4 departments (Corporate & Corporate tax, Private tax & Estate Planning, Labour and White-Collar crime) are blooming and tend to work closer and closer together in order to offer high quality services to our clients. Despite its growth, Tetra Law has kept – and still makes it a priority – its family spirit in a friendly workplace.

 

  1. What makes your firm different to others?

 

We have built Tetra on three core values (passion, synergy and enterprise) that reflect in all aspects of the management of the firm:

 

  • We pay particular attention to training and gradually empowering our (young) associates and we emphasize knowledge sharing. All lawyers contribute to the development and maintenance of our expertise according to their seniority.
  • We are a close-knit team that respects individuals so that all talents can blossom. We have kept the same family spirit since the foundation, take care of everyone and pay specific attention to keep having fun, working and spending time together.
  • We are very demanding and require excellence to deliver quality services to the benefit of our clients.

 

  1. Why do clients choose your firm?

Thanks to the diversity of our team and to the combined expertise of our lawyers, we can handle all aspects of all deals and cases at once in French, Dutch and English. We represent and assist companies at every stage of their development, from entrepreneurial start-ups and scale-ups, family businesses to medium and large (listed) companies, as well as funds and investment banks. We also assist our clients in their asset planning. As a result, we build long-standing relationships with our clients but also with their families and the “NextGen”.

Our partners have a strong reputation and hold professorships. Our lawyers are regular speakers at conferences and publish numerous articles and are (co)authors of several books in their practice areas. We pay specific attention to explaining complex legal aspects in a clear direct language in order to best assist our clients.

Our partners’ natural pedagogy also leads them to be regularly interviewed by the press to explain legal developments to the public. The priority is to transfer and teach all these qualities, step by step, to each member of Tetra Law, which exponentially increases the firm’s talent pool and visibility.

  1. How do you define a successful result?

 

A successful result is not just a deal done or a victory in court. It is above all a matter of advising clients to protect their interests in the best possible way with long term and durable strategies, to draw their attention to risks they had not considered, but essentially to come up with (alternative) pragmatic solutions to avoid their crystallization.

 

A satisfied client is a client who understands and sees the added value of the services provided, and who will be happy to recommend us to their contacts.

 

  1. Are there any specific regulations or laws in your country/region that would surprise readers from other countries?

 

Belgium is known worldwide for having developed a great deal of institutional complexity, including 6 governments, which results in a legislative lasagna with many levels of power and different legislations from one region to another, in three different official languages, even though we are such a small country.

 

This has an impact on many aspects when doing business: corporate and corporate housekeeping, real estate, permits and environment, tax and relationship with tax authorities, work contracts and labour relationships, subsidies and premiums, … That being said, Belgian people are known to be pragmatic and all this complexity is properly manageable with the assistance of the right professionals.

 

To focus on recent events, many of our foreign clients were surprised to learn that we have an automatic wage indexation to the cost of living for salaried workers in most sectors.

 

  1. What do employees value about your firm?

 

While many law firms are organized in a very hierarchical way with a strong distinction between fee earners and support staff, Tetra law differs: all our employees are an integral part of the team, there is no distinction in the way staff and lawyers are treated and treat each other.

 

We have great respect for all our employees, their skills and the way they contribute to the development of the firm at their level, whether as a trainee, a trained professional or support staff. Everybody pushes the team to strive for excellence in the profession.

 

Our employees are Tetra’s best ambassadors, and we are very proud of their loyalty.

  1. If you organise a team building / motivation event, what sort of things do you do?

 

The “if” is totally superficial as team buildings and events are an integral part of our firm’s culture 🙂

 

The most important annual event is the TetraWeekend, organized by our trainees, when the whole firm spends time together from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime, in a place kept secret until the last minute, with many activities (escape rooms, walks and activities on the beach, minigolf, etc.) and parties.

 

We also organize an annual barbecue in June (trusting the sun will shine at that time of the year) and a Christmas dinner-party where all spouses and partners join.

 

On a more regular basis, Tetra has at heart to set up a lunch on each first Friday of the month in the so-called “coffee corner”, for the whole firm to get together and celebrate the birthdays of the past month.

 

Every two weeks, each department gathers to exchange ideas, knowledge and interesting developments, whether in their field or in their cases.

 

Finally, as predictive professionals, we always have nice bottles of champagne on hand for impromptu drinks if we have something to celebrate… or for no reason.

  1. What does it take to go from being a good lawyer to an excellent lawyer?

 

It takes dedication, passion and care.

 

Questioning, creativity, listening and empathy are essential values to be developed and strengthened to progress and grow.

 

  1. Could you pick three words which summarise your firm’s values?

 

This question reads as if the questionnaire had been tailored to Tetra since we label ourselves with three core values 🙂

 

These words are:

 

Passion   

All our members are passionate about their practice. Internally, they maintain their knowledge thanks to weekly discussions on new regulations and case law. Externally, they share their passion and knowledge by giving trainings.

Synergy

To provide its services, synergy between the different departments of Tetra Law is essential when for instance dealing with a reorganization, acquisition or transfer of a company, with international mobility issues or with a tax or a labour inspection.

This synergy is also used to share our expertise. Tetra Law has different “dedicated” teams in specific cross-departmental matters, such as our “tax-labour” team, whose members focus for example on all tax, labour and social security aspects in situations of international mobility of both salaried and self-employed workers, or our team dedicated to both tax and social criminal proceedings.

Enterprise

Thanks to its passion and synergic expertise, our firm is a real entrepreneur, which brings added value to its clients’ business. With their knowledge, sense of the practice and fair eye on cases, the goal of its members is to provide a pragmatic approach to solve issues rather than further feed them, either by suggesting a client to fairly settle or to stand firm on their position, based on the specifics of the situation.

  1. What do international clients find the most challenging when they approach doing business in Belgium?

 

As already mentioned above, lawyers have to navigate through a legislative lasagna with many levels of power given Belgian specific and complex institutional situation.

Moreover, the use of the three national languages (French, Dutch and German) in procedures or in working relationships is an additional aspect to be borne in mind when doing business in Belgium.