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Ewelina Macewicz

Actualizado: 9 ago 2023

General Counsel, Booksy


New services and technologies develop extremely fast. Are local lawyers sufficiently trained to meet the challenges of emerging technologies and innovations in business, as well as the changing regulations around them?

That is a broader issue, because with the current state of the law in various jurisdictions it is almost impossible to be a legal generalist anymore. With so many new regulations, it's not realistic for one person to be up to date with all of them, and if someone says they can - it raises concerns. When working with advisors, it's not about which jurisdiction they are on, but how specialized in their field they are. How up to date they are with everything that is going on, especially the background of why it's being done. So I believe in local advisors, definitely, but those open-minded, business-orientated and problem-solving.

How to stay on top of everything and keep up with so many aspects that need to be taken care of?

Frankly, it's a never-ending challenge. We focus on building specific expertise in the in-house legal team, and cooperate with proven advisors who know our company and business realities on other matters. Therefore, we can quickly jump into very specific tasks and get a solution.

Given your background, how does transactional experience benefit a large start-up such as Booksy?

I would even start with a more general question - is transactional experience helpful or, on the contrary, a detriment to working as an in-house lawyer? Starting from a high-level perspective, it is totally beneficial, as we are used to constantly changing priorities, agile working, interacting with different stakeholders, and yet being accountable for the outcome. Just the way things are for an in-house lawyer at a tech start-up. From my perspective, the most important thing that goes behind transactional experience is the capability to work with the business - teaming up directly with CFOs, understanding the numbers and being able to draw conclusions from them, being responsible for the whole transaction process. These have helped me to build an in-house legal department that works alongside the business.

This ability to work with business – being actual business partner rather than just lawyer - works on all levels and has actual impact. It works with tech people, it works with business. It makes a difference between being needed and providing value and real input or being just necessary evil.

Thus, it all comes down to mutual understanding and being partners in business?

This is exactly what I want to emphasise. Working on transactions, I have observed very different relations between funds, start-ups and their legal teams. And, while it is not so obvious to everyone involved in the transaction, I believe that the legal team can bring immense added value, but it requires a lot of consistency. This is what I pass on to my team and the advisors who we work with - we are a real business partner who provide meaningful answers and help people build their businesses.

How challenging it is to combine business development & introducing new functionalities with compliance?

This is the toughest part. We have to find the middle ground, in this regulation-ridden world. Lawyers must act in accordance with the regulations, but also keep the business objectives before their eyes. Particularly for a business like ours, where we're operating with a global product, so different jurisdictions, local regulations come into the picture. It is not easy to adapt the objectives and priorities to different markets, different regulations, especially if we are operating both in the European Union and in the United States or South America. That is why we always start by defining the objective, assessing the risks involved and only then focus on legal solutions. There is never one single approach, we have to be flexible with local regulations.

Whilst we are dealing with a world of over-regulation, we still come across areas where there is a lack of appropriate legal solutions as the technology is only just developing. Then the question is how to deal with this?

This is a rather obvious dilemma with the state of affairs we have - it's difficult to keep up with the law, with ever-changing technology and solutions. So the law is always a step or two behind. My observation is that we often miss the main aim of the new regulations while implementing them. Take, for example, the personal data protection - we started well, companies actually wanted to secure the privacy of users, but it was lost somewhere in between. So at the moment Europe is over-regulated, and as a business we're trying our best to keep up with all these regulations. We should focus more on the primary aim and work with legal implementation – and never lose sight on that.

How would you validate the approach of authorities in relation to applying legal regulations. How much it differs depending on jurisdiction?

It differs significantly. In theory, if we have a regulation then implementation should go smoothly, but the reality is quite opposite. As lawyers we are left to ourselves when it comes to implementation of the law to the day-to-day business. It may look easy on paper, but it's much more difficult to actually make a use of it in a reasonable way. And authorities approach differs on different markets, that’s a fact. There are markets where it's extremely easy to communicate with the authorities to find the best way to implement regulations into our business. But it can be quite the opposite on the markets where everything is completely formalised. Given my experience, working with authorities with great approach really makes it easier for the primary aim of regulation to be still on display.

Now – if you were to recommend one thing to people growing business – what would you advise?

Find right people from the start because it makes things much easier to develop – especially if you plan to go global. It is so easy to make your life complicated in the long run if you do not find good people to work with. At the very beginning of your journey, take time to find yourself a good buddy who knows more than you - because no one knows everything, and don’t be afraid to ask.


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