Elena Christofi shares her views on the future of the legal profession in Gold Magazine’s Young Partners Legal Issue
What made you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in law?
At an early age, I was fascinated, by watching legal documentaries and legally oriented movies of how lawyers defended their clients and the techniques of persuasion and cross examination they were using. Those scenes are however, far from reality but they further solidified the already established belief that when pursuing a career in law I would find myself immersed in a profession that has to do with justice and protecting fundamental human rights and which suited my character. Although this may not be a daily occurrence in our daily routine, undoubtedly, apart from a profession, a legal career is a source of service to the community and the people who trust you with their affairs. It is also evident that over the course of a legal career, you can do and accomplish many goals, both professional and personal which I believe leads to a fulfilling career and life in general.
What are the most difficult challenges you have faced? Was there a specific turning point in your career that led you to where you are today?
At the outset of my career, myself and Cyprus in general, were faced with the Cyprus banking crisis and the instability that followed in the Cypriot economy. For any young professional this was a particularly stressful period with a lot of uncertainty for the future. However, the growth we witnessed in the Cypriot economy in the years to come, and the exciting projects that I was personally involved, made me realize that there is always an opportunity to improve after a particularly challenging period which forces you to work harder.
What do you see as the main qualities that someone requires in order to succeed in the legal profession? Are they different from those needed in other professional areas?
I strongly believe that they key qualities to succeed as a lawyer are integrity and honestly. Obviously, there is a mix of qualities that make a lawyer successful, but these key qualities are crucial in my view, as they reach the core of the nature of our profession, which is to serve our clients, in the best possible manner and always be honest, frank and faithful to their needs and aims. Minor faults can always be rectified, however, when the trust between a lawyer and a client is lost, then any cooperation will definitely be short-lived. I find this is a key “ingredient” in a lawyer-client relationship.
What do you feel about the legal reforms that have finally been approved by the House of Representatives? How great an impact will they have on the Cyprus legal and judicial system? Do they go far enough? Are there further reforms/changes that you would like to see in the future?
I believe the recent legal reforms implemented by the government and the House of Representatives are important and will definitely improve the problems we are currently facing in our judicial and legal system, especially the delay in the adjudication of pending cases and the specialization of courts and judges. As these reforms have been long overdue, the problems in our judicial system will not be solved overnight, however this is an important and crucial step towards their resolution and the introduction of i-justice will definitely assist in the digitization of our Court and judicial system. The adoption of the new Civil Procedure Rules will also assist in the better and more efficient handling of the pending cases leading, hopefully, to their swifter adjudication. We would definitely like to see more radical reforms both in the organizational framework of the judicial system, and in the procedures of all courts as many may seem outdated in the modern world, as well as the necessary continuing professional development of lawyers and judges. It has become evident that law firms in Cyprus are more adept in embracing technology than expected, and the relevant government departments will need to improve substantially in order to better serve the public and the professionals that cooperate with them.
How do you envision the law firms of the future? (Which sectors and services do you expect to grow? Is digitalization going to play an even bigger role? etc.)
The law firm of the future will need to be able to adapt to the growing and rapidly varying needs of the client and the industries in which they operate. Definitely the uptake of digital operations and use of technology will be a key challenge for most law firms, as the traditional models on which they have based their operations for decades will no longer be able to adapt or even accommodate the needs of the client. From my point of view, technology, financial technology, gaming, real estate and hospitality sectors in Cyprus are expected to continue to grow and contribute to the economy of Cyprus. As these are high-growth, evolving and adaptable sectors, it is only natural that the advisors operating in them, will need to be able to match their expectations and requirements for fast, efficient and accurate legal and business advice.
As a young lawyer, what are your professional goals and aspirations?
It is always a challenge to stay up to date with current developments and to be aware of potential risks to your clients. It is my personal goal to keep evolving both personally and professionally so that I can provide the best possible services to our clients and associates and always be able to anticipate both their needs as well as future risks that may arise in the constantly evolving and challenging legal scene.