Filled with invaluable pride, we would like to inform you that our Member of the Board and Director of Legal and International Affairs of International Group F.B.I. TASBUD has been selected to be the list of the most influential lawyers in the world The Legal 500 GC Powerlist 2019.

After the qualifying stage, the London editorial staff of “The Legal 500 Magazine” and the Competition Jury selected Rafał Świstak for the prestigious list of The Legal 500 GC Powerlist Central and Eastern Europe 2019.

Rafał Świstak was nominated for the award as a result of a comprehensive, multi-month research process conducted by the organizers of the competition; it is therefore a very significant distinction not only in personnel, but also for the entire Capital Group F.B.I. TASBUD. The candidacy of Rafał Świstak made a great impression at the Competition Jury for developing thought-out legal solutions for complex economic matters, creating legal structures accelerating and securing the development of a company with only Polish capital, both in Poland and abroad, and running a business model on an international scale, from which other advisors corporate should only take an example.

– It’s great news that I was appreciated in such a prestigious plebiscite. By joining the group of the most significant legal advisers in Central and Eastern Europe, I gained additional energy and motivation for further activities. I am glad that my profile has been noticed and is in a way a model for others, because it confirms that the policy of running my Legal and International Division in the F.B.I  TASBUD brings measurable results. By humbly accepting this distinction, I would like to thank the entire team and people who work with me on many difficult projects in the country and abroad on a daily basis. Special words of thanks also go to excellent employees of Polish economic diplomacy – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Polish Embassies in Scandinavia, Africa and the Middle East, the headquarters and foreign offices of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK) and many others. I am proud that we have earned this success together and I dedicate this title to my colleagues. I would also like to thank the Shareholders, Supervisory Board and Management Board of the F.B.I TASBUD Group for trust and long-term cooperation – said Rafał Świstak, Member of the Board and Director of Legal and International Affairs in the International Group F.B.I TASBUD.

The prestigious competition has been continuously analyzing the achievements and activities of law firms and internal corporate lawyers around the world for 30 years. In this year’s edition of The Legal 500 GC Powerlist 2019: Central and Eastern Europe 2019 in cooperation with the magazines “Legal Business”, “GC Magazine” and “The In-house Lawyer,” the organizer draws attention to the internal function of lawyers responsible for the best possible prosperity corporations in the light of law.

GC Powerlist is also a series of publications with profiles of significant lawyers operating in various industries. The editors inform readers, among others about why a given lawyer was on the list, what is the best achievement in his industry and what innovations by the lawyer and his company are used to shape innovation in the law industry.

With the International Capital Group F.B.I. TASBUD, Rafał Świstak has been bound continuously since 2011.

Rafał Świstak has many years of professional experience, which he gained both in public institutions (Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Poland 1999-2005) and in a number of corporate entities (including ATM. SA, Nafta Polska SA, Mostostal Warszawa SA, iPay International SA , Totolotek SA). He is an ordinary member of the Polish Association of Business Lawyers and a pro bono lawyer of the Polish Cluster of Construction Exporters. He specializes in broadly understood civil and commercial law – including public procurement law and construction law. In addition, he provides frequent expert statements on issues related to the investment process and disputes over the construction industry, as well as issues related to the export of the Polish construction sector.

The award ceremony took place at the Raffes Europejski Hotel in Warsaw on November 7. During the meeting the world of Polish and European legal world was present, representing the most significant law firms and companies from Central and Eastern Europe. More about the competition and a full list of awarded lawyers from around the world: https://www.legal500.com/assets/pages/cc100/2019/cee-19.html

Below an interview with Rafał Świstak, which was published by organizators on occasion of receiving the award:

What are the most important transactions and litigations that you have been involved in during the last two years?

I think is really difficult to choose clearly the most important or the most problematic cases that I have been involved in – as each case shall be important no matter its value. That is the lawyer’s first duty. Every transaction is different – and so – shall be “made to measure” depending on various circumstances. What I am really proud of is my involvement and participation in the establishment, development and current representation of the Polish Cluster of Construction Exporters as well as F.B.I TASBUD International Group. This organisation was created as an outstanding initiative with a mission to establish and develop cooperation of Polish construction companies on export markets, and to internationalise the Polish construction industry. The structure of it is an entity that so far represents its members (including as F.B.I TASBUD International Group leadership) worth at least €2bn of total sales and being present in 50 countries abroad. By F.B.I. TASBUD International Group we have become as one of the most reliable and recognisable construction company in Scandanavia, Africa and the Middle East.

How important are “soft skills” or personal attributes outside of technical legal skill, and which “soft skills” do you feel are most important for an in-house lawyer to possess?

Both “soft skills” and personal attributes are crucial. Legal in-housing at companies requires possession of the following: genuine desire to help other people (which is a must), humility and sensitivity, and empathy, confidence and persistence, discipline, dependability and loyalty.

Do you utilise any legal tech products, and if so, how do these assist you in your role?

Yes, I use some of the legal-tech tools, especially in terms of contracts-review. At this point, the growing impact of artificial intelligence should be taken into account as a significant improvement in the day-to-day corporate law work. It for sure makes processes automated, saves time and resources, so we as a lawyers can focus on more important issues. Legal-tech products also improve the performance management process, as well as support the timeliness of legal departments’ tasks.

What advice would you give to any peers or colleagues working in the Polish market for the first time?

Lawyers should forget about old-style ways of working. Right now it is not necessary to be just close with legal knowledge, rather you should be more multitasked. Also really important is developing soft-skills which give you a possibility to be open to the client’s needs, which is not always a legal assessment requirement. Today knowledge of the industry and business impact, as well as the total cost of business, are more important. Lawyers are no longer in the shadow of the client, it is more and more a face of the company and makes decisions which have a significant impact on the customer’s measurable perception.

Moreover, I would like to note, that the law firms are changing the approach in terms of their structures, entrusting complicated matters to colleagues-women, who have been dominated in a world full of men so far. I think that is a good direction because women are more detail-oriented and look on some cases from different, sometimes better points of view. My advice is simply – be open and do not discriminate in business and the legal market.

What can law firms in Poland, and the wider CEE region, do to win more business from you?

The key issue is understanding the organisation’s needs and an individual approach to the substance. It is about understanding the complexity of investment processes. Polish and European companies are very professional and have developed mechanisms to acquire and retain customers, in particular based on good relationships and commitment. As a hint, I could only recommend a flexible approach to the valuation of services, with particular emphasis on the success-fee. This is dictated by the exaggerated competitiveness, because maintaining long-term contacts with the client usually allows for exclusive legal services.


FOCUS ON… THE BRIGHT SIDE

Some of you may know a story of two salesmen who went down to Africa in the nineteen hundreds. They were sent down to find out if there was any opportunity for selling shoes. Let’s imagine that is happening nowadays, they were doing their best to investigate local markets, possibilities, barriers, legislations, back-up solutions, and due-diligence.

Both of them made all the surveys that they thought were necessary and gave a clear background and overview of the situation for decision-makers. And with the use of sophisticated (at the time) means of wireless communication they wrote telegrams back to London, the headquarters of their employer. One of them wrote “SITUATION HOPELESS.STOP. THEY DON’T WEAR SHOES.STOP.” But the other one wrote “GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY.STOP.THEY DON’T HAVE ANY SHOES YET.STOP”.

Now, there is a pretty similar situation with the legal in-house sector for construction branches in Poland. Some legal representatives claims that being part of one company is boring, without any relevant perspectives for successful career. The number and complexity of cases in an organisation ensures generalised development and provides opportunities that a standard law firm couldn’t give you. Based on my example, being part of the company, I am responsible not only for legal advice, but also for financial and image-related issues. The in-house lawyer is not a “problems – fixer” – that is the job for law firms. He is a “problems – avoider”, forecasting and acting before they appear. Being an in-house lawyer, like this salesman in Africa, gives a broader view of problems and we care more about obtaining the company’s potential and capabilities.