Gruia Dufaut



Last updated: 4 December 2018

In your opinion, how does Romania look at its first centenary? What has been done well, what should be changed in the future?

Romania is a European country, a modern State, according to the vision of the artisans of the 1918 Union. Every assessment of the country’s progress must start from this point. Throughout history, progress was not straightforward and, as we all know, even in the recent history of Romania there have been steep ups and downs. These fluctuations did not stop the country’s development, they just put it on hold. In 2018, Romania is a democratic society, a functioning market economy, a member of the main economic, political and military communities of the Western world. It is a growing market, to an extent that other countries can only dream of.

The country has potential, and what it needs now is an economic and social plan, to be pursued rigorously. There are already many personalities who invoke the need for a new project as ambitious as the Great Union of 1918 or the accession to NATO and the EU. Romania needs new goals, clear directions in which to invest its efforts so as to maximize its potential: it is the second largest market in Eastern Europe, after Poland, and the seventh largest in the EU, has an educated and accessible workforce, energy resources and access to European funds waiting to be used efficiently. Moreover, important economic actors can use Romania’s geographic position in reaching other markets as well. Romania still needs investment and financial flows to fuel its progress. For this, a plan is needed.

What are your expectations from 2019? From a business lawyer’s perspective, who has been working with foreign investors for over 27 years, what are the plans to be pursued by Romania?

For 2019, growth is still anticipated, although not at the level of recent years. However, we are still expecting an increase and this means positive perspectives, budgets for investment and development. It also means that companies are waiting for the public investment projects promised this year to start. Romania is entering a period in which it has to create the necessary framework to attract the investors from the second and third wave, namely the small and medium size companies that could find here an environment suitable for investment and development, both for green field investment and mergers and acquisitions. The business environment in Romania has reached a relative maturity, and entrepreneurial companies – which, for the most part, are also family companies – have reached the key moment of either passing the torch to the younger generations or, on the contrary, of exiting the market and cashing-in their profits. At the opposite end, there are a lot of very young entrepreneurial companies that are now on the market and are known for their success, especially in the field of technology; such companies also generate changes in the level of services provided by law firms specializing in the provision of legal advice, through the creation and development of new practices.

Finally, the regulatory framework that is being developed each year at European level in order to adjust the effects of the major impact of technology over day-to-day activities and to limit and control the huge amount of personal information that each of us contributes to by using various technologies is also a driver of change in the market.

As far as we are concerned, we want to take advantage of these opportunities, to provide and develop the expertise we have in key areas such as research and new technologies, data protection, industrial property and consumer protection. The projects we have already started, especially in the second part of the year, fuel my optimism. My strongest belief is that tomorrow’s results are the sum of the actions and decisions we take today.

You are an important figure on the law market. How does one build a business brand?

In business, the most valuable thing a company – or a person – has is trust. Trust (I have seen this during the economic crisis) is hard to gain (it takes years to earn it), but extremely easy to lose.

That’s why I believe that, besides professionalism and a set of high ethical values, trust contributes most to the creation of a respected brand.

In business law, this is more obvious than in other industries, in light of the “benevolence” concept – the pursuit of customer welfare, which is part of the very definition of the lawyer profession.

Beyond these things, it also takes a lot of work, passion, but also courage and the chance to be in the right place at the right time. When I founded the Bucharest office, I started from the conviction that I can put my expertise to work for the development of investments, provide foreign investors with high-quality legal services, according to their expectations.

How do you see Romania’s future from the perspective of its achievements in the past 100 years? What is your message?

As I said in the beginning, I think Romania needs a plan. If a few years ago the main objective was the admission to the select club of the economic, political and military organizations of the Western world, now Romania has to focus on itself.

This nation needs to ask itself the right questions and draw the “map” it wants to follow. There are a number of points to start with, but I think many of them depend on building trust. Romania is a member of the European community, but still has many gaps to overcome in terms of everyday life quality and the comfort of its citizens.

Concrete steps in this direction could encourage our fellow citizens – young and old – not to leave the country, and those already gone to come back. There are solutions to this, they just have to be “gathered” from experts and the business environment and put into practice.

Finally, I believe that, in order to progress, Romania needs our contribution. It is very important that we each believe we can contribute, and actually do it, each in our own way, as best we can. And I would end by quoting Ziglar: Great things come slowly, but one achieved nothing by standing still.

Happy Birthday, Romania!

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