Cosmin Vasile, Ph.D., has been a partner of Zamfirescu Racoti & Partners Attorneys at Law since 2007. Cosmin acts as special counsel in commercial litigation and has gained a strong reputation in handling complex international arbitrations, including proceedings governed by the rules of ICC and LCIA, as well as less formal procedures using the UNCITRAL arbitration rules.

During the last five years, Cosmin has been acting as main counsel in more than 20 international arbitration proceedings - arbitration cases before Vienna International Arbitration Center, one ad-hoc case following the UNCITRAL rules, arbitration cases before the Milan, Stuttgart and Hamburg Courts of International Arbitration, and in over 50 FIDIC disputes, being one of the most experienced experts on the Romanian market. He has been awarded the Diploma in International Arbitration by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is a fellow member of this institute. Why did you choose to become a lawyer instead of other legal professions? When did you realise that dispute resolution was the field you wanted to work in? 

CV: I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer, without knowing what this actually meant. It was always my goal and eventually I was lucky, mostly because I ended up in the right place. As for my preference for dispute resolution, the truth is that if I had been asked the same question while being a student, I would have answered that I was attracted to Criminal Law. However, at the moment, I wouldn’t like, under any circumstances, to be a practitioner in the criminal field. I can say that I had the chance to be part of a firm whose profile matched the right profile for me. Which are the challenges you have to face on a daily basis as a partner within Zamfirescu Racoti & Partners?

CV: The main challenge of being a lawyer, irrespective of the law firm you have to work for, is being able to comply with all of the client’s requests and act according to the mandate conferred by him/her. This means having a deep knowledge of your field and being available to put all your efforts into fulfilling the client’s needs and desires. 

Clearly, the utmost challenge is, as in any other profession, to evolve and maintain yourself at a certain level, according to your career targets. Also, throughout your professional evolution, there are many other aspects that a lawyer has to take into account and maintain  – his or her presence and visibility on the market,  the relationship with his or her clients, team cooperation, and maintaining a constant level of professional excellence.

What was never said nor ever written anywhere is that people end up practicing law according to the principle ‘the right man in the right place’: being a good law practitioner does not imply being a good lawyer; being a law practitioner with the requisite qualities for being a lawyer does not necessarily imply being outstanding and able to rise up to the effort that being a lawyer entails. As previously mentioned, as far as I am concerned, it was all about a chance which perfectly coincided with what I loved doing; therefore, irrespective of the number of hours spent at the office, it is a profession that I would by no means want to change. Reflecting on your legal career, which case do you believe to be the most representative for you and your experiences, and why?

CV: I cannot name a representative case and this is mainly because business law does not necessarily interfere with one’s personality or emotions. Indeed, being a litigator brings you a certain satisfaction every time you win, but you cannot say some cases bring you a higher degree of satisfaction than others. Switching to specific legal aspects you deal with on a day by day basis, how would you appreciate the future impact of mediation, a wide world as well as nationally recognised institution, especially having in view the latest amendments made to the Romanian legislation?

CV: I have come across the institution of mediation and I have endorsed it from the point of view of a lawyer. Mediation is both necessary and useful, thus it must have a future. However, in the short and medium term, I cannot exactly foresee its future in Romania, not out of reasons regarding the regulation, but out of reasons that shall blur out with the passage of time: at some point, people will start having a better legal culture and knowledge of regulation and will experience a shift in mentality, which I believe are premises for the success of mediation. There may be a tendency to believe that mediation will have an immediate internal impact, however, I would rather be inclined to believe that a visible change will only be achieved in time - I would say, within approximately five years. Going back in time to the moment when you started your legal career, what was your first impression about what it meant to be a lawyer? 

CV: Actually, in the beginning, I knew nothing about being an attorney and about life in law firms, so I cannot say that I had any type of expectations. Without being spectacular, attorneyship was an area which I liked both as work and rhythm of life. My situation was more unusual than that of most young graduates in the employment threshold, meaning that I did not know anything about this domain when I accepted this ’challenge’. 

Now things have changed a lot, considering that law firms are more present in the academic sphere through different activities they develop and because of the expansion of social media channels. Thus, they get to be known by today’s students and tomorrow’s graduates, even when students are not interested in them. Would you encourage young attorneys to follow a career in the fields that you embraced? Which would be the advantages/disadvantages of such a choice? 

CV: I encourage students who want to embrace attorneyship to do so. However, they have to really want to practice it, to know very well what it involves, how demanding and difficult it can be compared to other jobs. By this, I mean the time spent, the stress and the level of involvement required. Every person should choose according to his or her passions, trying to benefit as much as possible from the choice he or she made. 

One of the major problems that I see nowadays is the fact that students graduate with a lack of legal knowledge. Constantly, there are new job offers from law firms, but in order to benefit from those opportunities you must have a certain degree of knowledge and competence. Statistics have shown that more than 80% of law graduates annually, at a national level, are not prepared to enter the legal market or to practice law. If I were to give an advice for law students, it would be to try to learn as much as possible during their studies. For our readers who would like to work for the law firm you do, which would be the requirements for junior attorneys?

CV: They must successfully pass a professional exam, which is the decisive requirement. Also, they should have proficient English knowledge and also pass a psychological test. The latter is only a prerequisite, not a differentiation criterion between candidates. Do you agree with the saying that the recipe for success consists of 99% work and 1% talent? Would you add any another ingredient?

CV: No, I don’t believe in it per se. I would change it a bit, though, saying that success means 90% work, 1% talent and a few grams of luck, because without luck no one could build a real, strong a career.

This interview was originally published in the third issue of the magazine, which can be accessed here.