Interview with trainee: a Belgian lawyer Stephan Moreels, who joined our law firm in Lithuania to learn more about the International Business Law
Q: Stephan, can you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I am a Belgian citizen, living in Brussels. I am actually still busy with my study and finishing my Bachelor degree in Law this year. I am suppose to graduate in June 2014. I graduated high school in 2007 and immediately enrolled myself in the Belgian army, where I wanted to become an officer. After a while, I changed my thoughts and started to study law at the University of Brussels, ULB. Now I am finishing my degree at the University College EPHEC (Belgium). From September 2013 until January 2014 I studied at Corvinus University (Budapest, Hungary) in the framework of an Erasmus exchange.
Regarding my previous professional experiences, I worked in different sectors and in different companies, such as insurance advisor at ERGO and manager in a fast-food restaurant. My main professional interests relate to International Business Law, Intellectual Property, Tax law and Mergers.
Q: What motivated you to apply for an internship in our Law Firm?
First of all, you have to know that my 15 weeks of internship are part of my study and this practical period replaces theoretical courses. When I applied I was still in Budapest and I had in mind to spend this full year abroad to gain personal and professional experiences. Having a particular interest for Central and East Europe, the Baltics countries were then an area to “explore”.
In this geographical part of Europe, multiple law firms and all the different areas of law are found. But whatever you are looking for it comes quickly out that GENCS VALTERS law firm is one of the best known and probably the most qualified in its activities.
Benefiting of an appropriate location, of a field of activities which fits to my future study/career perspectives and of a reputation which has not to be demonstrated anymore, it is naturally that I postulated here.
Q: Do you believe that working in our law firm's office in Vilnius brought you some assets?
Definitely! The time I spent working at the office or at home was only rewarding and did not constitute a waste of time. Indeed, it was for me the first real legal experience and it totally exceeded my expectations. Instead of learning theoretical concepts, which sometimes can be everything except concrete, I was immediately involved in different affairs. I had to deal with plenty of cases which were related to several areas such as Immigration, Patent and Trademarks protection, establishment of company, etc.
During that 15 weeks period I obviously had the opportunity to speak and communicate with the clients but on the meantime I also had the chance to meet some Belgian representatives posted in The Baltics countries such as the Ambassador in Vilnius and in Riga. My tasks at those meetings were first to represent the law firm, its activities and its future projects, secondly to propose our services to other Belgian citizens or Belgian companies who may need some legal help in any process, and thirdly to try to target the needs of such persons or entities.
Another element which might be underlined is the fact that the affairs you have to deal with are “multi-levels”. By this expression I mean that you have to work with individuals, small companies and huge international companies. Even if all of the clients are treated on the same way without making any difference of importance, it is still always impressive to work on a case for McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Nestle, etc. Making this experience even more rewarding and beneficial.
It was also beneficial to see how it is really working in an international law firm and how do they proceed. I had the chance to experiment it and I saw that the office was evolving in a really dynamic environment. Phone and email communications with colleagues working in another subsidiary were daily and lots of cases have to be processed on the same time. The staff is also multi-cultural and you can find lawyers from several countries such as Spain, Finland, Belarus, etc.
Q: What will you keep from your time in Lithuania law office and which impact did it have on your study plan?
After a successful internship experience, I can affirm that my panel of skills increased a lot and it strengthened my opinion regarding my future. Indeed, through this internship I improved my abilities to write legal texts, to make quicker and more efficient researches and to communicate with international clients. Working abroad brings also its social and cultural benefits and making you even more open-minded to other approaches and to other ways of thinking.
But this internship made me also realized that International Business Law and Intellectual Property Law are definitely the areas wherein I would like to evolve and work later.
In that purpose and with the rewarding experience I had in the Law Firm I decided to apply in different universities in The Netherlands in order to obtain a Master degree and I believe that such an opportunity constitutes for me a significant advantage in the comprehension and the understanding of the subtleties.
Q: If you got the opportunity, would you like to come back to work in Lithuania?
Yes! I believe that in a near future the Baltics countries are going to have an important position in the EU framework due to their developments, and lots of companies are going to find their welfare in this area due to its suitable economic and tax environment. By then, international lawyers are going to play a key role in all the international relations and in the establishment of such entities.
In addition, the lifestyle in Lithuania is really pleasant and it would not be disruptive to live there for more than 4 months.
To conclude, I would like to say that if someone receives a decent offer and an opportunity to profit of a warm living environment in Lithuania, this person must have good reasons to decline it or being crazy.
Corvinus University (Budapest, Hungary)