Alina Matei: I am glad, Master, that we meet again. Does the personality of a lawyer influence his professional specialization? Or do we think we choose because we are very good at it?
Gabriel Grigoras: I am also happy to talk to you again. I think there are two important elements which could decisively influence a lawyer’s professional specialization.
On one hand, the first few years of career are very important. In this regard, it is essential if you work as a litigator or a consultant during the first years of legal career. Usually, lawyers continue to improve the specializations started in the first years of their career. If you have the chance to meet a master who can inspire you and give you confidence in what you do, then everything is done and you will certainly continue to evolve in the legal career and improve the specialization you have chosen.
On the other hand, the personality of a lawyer is decisive, as you said, if we are talking about an active person, who has good communication skills and owns the gift of interacting with people. This type of person will be attracted to become a litigator. On the contrary, young lawyers who are good theoreticians and who are exclusively focused on studying and performing at the theory of law and substantive law, will be better suited to a consulting activity.
Alina Matei: How was it in your case? What were the qualities which helped you to become a lawyer?
Gabriel Grigoraș: It was a mix of circumstances. Firstly, there were two people who influenced me decisively in this career. The first is the lamented professor Viorel Mihai Ciobanu, perhaps the greatest litigator of the Romanian Law. I read his works and I studied his career having the great chance to know him personally. I dare to say that he was a close friend of mine and counselor, offering me support in countless circumstances.
Me and my family are deeply grateful to him. The Professor Ciobanu made me love law and by following his advice I started my law career 30 years ago. The second one was lawyer Vasiliu Adrian, my former master, one of the best civilians, an authentic consummate professional. As a master he taught me to love this profession and I am deeply grateful for him.
Alina Matei: Did you intend to be a great lawyer? You said last time that this profession gave you more than you deserved.
Gabriel Grigoraș: It depends on what you mean by being a great lawyer: to have high income from the profession, to have lots of clients, to have certain professional successes, to have a very well-known name in the guild or maybe to be better promoted on the market? Therefore, the notion of “great lawyer” is at least questionable, if not really outdated today. Today’s law is no longer compared to the law of 50 or 25 years ago. Nowadays, you can become a “great lawyer” also if you only benefit from proper advertising and promotion made by professional companies that perform advertising activities. As for me, I can say that not only this profession suited me, but I can also say that it gave me plenty rewards.
Alina Matei: How did you find your Master? How was him? Which was his influence on your progress, not only professional?
Gabriel Grigoraș: The lawyer Adrian Vasiliu was friend with professor Ciobanu and that is how I met my master, professor Ciobanu. Lawyer Vasiliu has a complex personality, he is a great intellectual, not only a good lawyer, but also a good writer. The influence of such a man can only be decisive, if you had the chance to work with him, primarily professional, but not only.
Alina Matei: But how you treated the young trainees in law?
Gabriel Grigoraș: Your question makes me feel old (joking). We are friends and colleagues. Things evolve very fast in law and especially during law internship. Trainee lawyers are already pleading in Court, not to mention their administrative activity on Court files or their consulting activity. Basically, a trainee lawyer gets his income through his own work and then the relationships with trainee lawyers can only be collegial, friendly and reliable.
Alina Matei: The Master is today the Mentor. What do you think? Could the resignation of the Master for the Mentor and the training of institutional trainee lawyers be a sign that the institution of the Master was not enough?
Gabriel Grigoraș: It is the same thing. However, from my point of view, it seems to me that in this profession it is very important for the young trainee to receive professional support from a good professional, whether we call him a master or a mentor.
Alina Matei: What does it mean for you to plead in Court? How do you prepare the plea?
Gabriel Grigoraș: How not to love Court activity? Sometimes it is like in acting, you give everything to impress the audience, especially when it comes to more complicated causes in which any legal solution is possible. Generally, I do not prepare my plea, but I tell you that I never go to Court if I do not master all the details of the file.
Alina Matei: What do you do until your turn to Court comes? Are you using the cell phone for emails, read the press online or stay connected on the file?
Gabriel Grigoraș: Your question reminds me of the famous “smoking room” where between two files the notorious lawyers and the less notorious ones “were smoking, commented on causes and debated politics” or played chess and had a coffee on the coffee machine. Old days long gone. Now that the “smoking room” is gone and trials don’t happen so often, we write an email, read the online press, as you say, or gossip with a friend until our turn to Court comes.
Alina Matei: But what do you think about the way lawyers speak in front of the judges? Do lawyers use clichés? Or the clichés are presented by lawyers in such a way that seem to be logical?
Gabriel Grigoraș: Clichés are used sometimes, because you can’t permanently be inventive. But if the cliché is placed in a context appropriate to the cause you support, then the effect can be positive.
Alina Matei: Did the judge ever tell you “Mr. Lawyer, in short, I will postpone the decision to file written conclusions.”?
Gabriel Grigoraș: Oh, yes. Sometimes from the desire to be understood and as much convincing as possible, we exaggerate and forget that in a court hearing there are maybe 50-60 files or more. If you make a simple count, taking into consideration that there are at least two parties in a file, that means the judge should talk to a minimum of 100-120 people at the hearing, not to mention witnesses, interrogations or other procedural incidents.
Alina Matei: But to be the unhappy holder of the fee reduction?
Gabriel Grigoraș: That also happened. Fortunately, each time the parties understood the situation and there were no problems. Sometimes, at request of the party, I have declared appeal.
Alina Matei: The judge gets to know the lawyer not only by his speech, but also by writing which are two different mechanisms. I believe in the clarity and simplicity of the papers the lawyers draft. The lawyer must be aware that it may happen that the judge reads between the rows the papers the lawyer drafted, catching only what he wants to say. What style do you have, how are the papers done within the company GRIGORAȘ & PARTNERS?
Gabriel Grigoraș: As you know, the trial has two parts. A written part and an oral part. Both sides are important, but in my opinion, the written part is much more important. Therefore, the written part must be fully exploited in a trial. Before finishing Law School, I graduated the Faculty of Technological Equipment during Ceausescu’s time. The technical education I received during the first faculty and those few years of engineering that I practiced taught me to be very practical, synthetic and efficient. I used these skills to the fullest in my career as lawyer. I have always had a concern about being very clear and concise in everything that is written part. It should never be forgotten that law as a science is very technical. For example, civil law and civil procedural law are very technical and accurate and then the law defenses must be the same. The simple narrative in the written part of the process has no efficiency and on the contrary, it is inefficient, wasteful and rightfully annoying.
Alina Matei: And because I was talking about the fee, do you establish a global fee per trail or an hourly fee?
Gabriel Grigoraș: In general, in trials we go for the global fee, but when it comes to consulting we receive an hourly fee.
Alina Matei: How important is branding for lawyers?
Gabriel Grigoraș: Branding has become very important, but it is even more important how you build it. If the brand is the result of the lawyer’s legal knowledge, of his professional successes and daily activities, that is one thing. On the contrary, if the brand is the result of work of the advertising and promotion companies on the law market, that is something else. Unfortunately, lately, the second way of building a brand tends to dominate law sector.
Alina Matei: Does the Devil’s Advocate exist?
Gabriel Grigoraș: This expression was invented by the Catholic Church and has its own history and philosophy. But I have never believed that the way it was taken and used today was successful. It seems to me that the words “advocate” and “devil” do not fit in any way to the lawyer’s activity, not even perceived as a figurative association. I think that the expression “the Devil’s Advocate” has sometimes been associated to the lawyer’s activity only because in many situations the lawyer must find impossible solutions in the interest of the one whom defends, often getting over his own principles and beliefs. But when the lawyer’s effort materializes for the good of the client, then the compromise and the unpleasant part of work seem to disappear and the “devil” seem to have never existed.
Alina Matei: Master, in order to change the subject, why you have not applied for the law authorities? Didn’t anyone suggest you that?
Gabriel Grigoraș: On one hand, I dedicated all my time for professional activities. On the other hand, I am not very good when it comes to administrative activities and I tell you without false modesty that there are other colleagues which manage very well this administrative work.
Alina Matei: Do you have a thought for the young lawyers who want to become litigators and succeed as you did?
Gabriel Grigoraș: First of all, I want to thank you for putting me in the category of those who succeeded. I wish everyone to love this profession and to believe in it and the rest will come: satisfactions, fulfillment, money-everything.
Alina Matei: Thank you for talking to me.
Gabriel Grigoraș: I thank you for remembering me.