Now’s the time for Romania’s legal sector to be as innovative as its IT sector, say Bucharest law firms

Hristescu & Partners and Bulboaca & Asociatii are hosting a Global Legal Hackathon event in the capital to bring Romania’s tech savvy to the legal sector

Romania has increasingly become a destination for tech companies and start-ups worldwide. But how does Romania’s legal sector fare when it comes to implementing innovation? Hristescu & Partners and Bulboaca & Asociatii are hosting a Global Legal Hackathon event in Bucharest to help fuel similar innovation in the legal sector with a particular focus on improving efficiency among law firms.

As Andrew MacDowell of the Financial Times reports, the Eastern European country “has been a favoured IT outsourcing destination for many years, with competitive advantages including its domestic market of 20m, one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies, and young graduates with good language skills.” MacDowell also cites the former communist country’s “legacy of excellence in science, mathematics, and technical education,” which has helped propel innovation among domestic companies.

Now it’s time for Romania’s legal sector to embrace the same kind of tech and innovation, say organizers of the upcoming Global Legal Hackathon event in Bucharest. We spoke to Madalina Hagima Hristescu, managing partner at Hristescu & Partners, about legal tech in Romania and what she hopes to see at the hackathon on February 23–25, 2018.

Hristescu & Partners Managing Partner Madalina Hagima Hristescu discusses legal tech in Romania and what she hopes to see at the hackathon on February 23–25, 2018

Can you tell me a little bit about the hosting firms — Hristescu and Bulboaca — and some of the innovation they hope to adopt?

Hristescu & Partners and Bulboaca & Asociatii are two well-known Romanian law firms that are determined to embrace change, welcome challenge and support innovation. We both consider this hackathon a great opportunity to foster valuable business ideas and technological capabilities, not only within an educational scope, but also with the expressed intention of encouraging innovation that will help improve efficiency in the firm.

We are also honoured to contribute to our country’s development through innovation, as Romania’s potential to grow is tremendous, and we firmly believe that we must do what we can to encourage this transformation.

Romania is known for being very technologically, if not economically, rich. What is the state of legal innovation in the country as a whole?

Romania has all the required factors to remain a centre of excellence in IT. The largest national and foreign IT&C companies have their headquarters in Bucharest. And although our IT&C professionals are recognized and sought internationally, we would like to see a similar trend in the legal sector.

Specifically, private businesses are increasingly seeking self-learning instruments able to generate high speed processing power, and there are quite a few issues in the public sector that could be significantly improved. As legal tech is just starting up in the country with a handful of NGOs and companies working on the issues, Romania is a place where access to justice has great potential.

“We are honoured to contribute to our country’s development through innovation, as Romania’s potential to grow is tremendous, and we firmly believe that we must do what we can to encourage this transformation.” — Madalina, Managing Partner, Hristescu & Partners

What are some of the legal industry or justice sector issues that could be improved, in your opinion?

Nowadays, Romanian organizations in both public and private sectors face communication challenges, particularly among government authorities or between institutions and citizens. For instance, a lot of the communication with public institutions is done on paper, making the review of each case lengthy and complicated. We see here a great potential for digitalization to disrupt the status quo, speed up cases, and ease the work of all participants in the justice process, thereby increasing access to justice for everyone involved in legal processes.

Lastly, even though internet services here are some of the cheapest and fastest in the world and smart phone penetration is over 56% of active population, access to justice or legal representation, especially for rural areas, is difficult and cumbersome. Technology could ease the process for all the under-served Romanians, who sometimes need to travel significant distances in order to access the legal services they require. We anticipate that some of these issues will be addressed at the hackathon.

Why is Bucharest a prime location for a legal hackathon?

With lots of innovation labs and tech hubs in the main cities in Romania — Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Brasov, and Timisoara — it is time to think big and bring technology into the legal sector. We do have a tremendous advantage in that Romania has people who are inquisitive, determined, excited to learn and very much creative in many domains.

And hosting the hackathon in the capital of Romania allows for both private and public sector professionals to come the table. It was the perfect match. However, we do hope that Cluj, Timisoara, Brasov and Iasi will join us in hosting future legal hackathons in Romania.

Who do you expect to participate in the Bucharest location of the GLH?

This hackathon welcomes individuals of many backgrounds and is geared toward Romania’s best and brightest programmers, UI/UX designers, passionate software and blockchain professionals, attorneys, in-house lawyers, judges, entrepreneurs, IT companies, students — in law or technical faculties, and IT and/or legal professional associations, as well as any new motivated professionals who have bold visions in the legal tech field and want to drive innovation in the legal field.

What are you looking forward to most about the upcoming hackathon?

By being involved in the Global Legal Hackathon, I am really looking forward to the fact that brilliant ideas will inevitably stand out and valuable applications could soon start to be implemented. Romania has the sixth highest number of certified IT specialists per capita in the world. It is our turn now — the legal professionals — to further take advantage of this excellent context and connect the skills and legal knowledge of the legal industry with tech professionals.

You can register for the Bucharest location of the Global Legal Hackathon through Cadence Events at https://www.eventcadence.com/e/GLH-Romania