This month we chat to stunning Romanian lawyer, Silvia Uscov, who is a business attorney and managing partner at USCOV | Attorneys at Law. Silvia oversees the Bankruptcy and Restructuring workgroup. She is also a human rights lawyer and safeguards human rights & civil liberties through civil and criminal proceedings, in front of both local as well international courts such as ECHR.
I came across Silvia’s page a few weeks ago, I was naturally draw to her profile and apparent confidence. A quick DM resulted in a very pleasant conversation about women in law, mentorship etc.
This platform really allows me to meet and interact with some amazing and phenomenal women in law and Silvia is exactly that!
Below is the interview between For Women in Law (FWIL) and (SU) Silvia Uscov verbatim
FWIL: What inspired you to study law?
SU: I consider Law a combination of mystery, puzzle, research, logic, sales and a vision of a saving hero.Because I did not have a great sales talent, I thought that all the other attributes can be of good help in Medicine, a field for which I was preparing. But, given that, back then, the working conditions in hospitals (which have improved considerably in Romania in the meantime) and the fact that I could not do serious research, turned my attention to Law.Meanwhile, considering that I started to practice law and opened my own boutique law firm after the compulsory internship period (in Romania it is necessary to practice law with a guidance lawyer in the first 2 years), I also developed my sales qualities.
FWIL: As a woman in law, have you experienced gender bias? Please tell us about the challenges, if any, that you have faced.
SU: In Romania, as part of the European Union, we have strict regulations regarding non-discrimination on the grounds of gender and I have not experienced gender bias.In fact, there are now more women practicing law than men and many of them are in top positions in law firms (Name Partners) or in the judicial system (Heads of the High Court of Cassation and Justice in Romania – the supreme court of justice, of the Courts of Appeals and most of the other local Courts of Justice, but also Heads of the Prosecutor Offices), except for the military judicial system, where men dominate.In the early years of my career I experienced age bias, but I quickly learned to use this as an advantage when my opponent didn’t even consider that the lack of long experience in my profession or my youth does not mean that they cannot be compensated with sufficient preparation so that in the end I win a trial or negotiation based also on his mistake of underestimating me.
FWIL: What does being an alpha female mean to you?
SU: An alpha female has leadership skills, she is an inspiration to others, has high emotional intelligence, is a constant learner, highly ambitious, she knows how to share, cooperate and play fair and she has an exceptional confidence.
FWIL: Do you identify as a feminist? (Why/why not)
SU: I am not a feminist in the way this concept is generally understood. I think that women and men should benefit from the same opportunities in their careers, but I also consider that the different way of perceiving the realities determined by the genetic, anatomical structure, the differences in cultivating the relationships with the others etc. lead rather to the need for complementarity of roles in an organizational structure than to their doubling through equivalence, rather to a yin-yang system than to the existence of two alphas fighting for the same position.
FWIL: The journey of most legal professionals is not always an easy one. What are some of the lessons you have learned along the way and how have they shaped your outlook on life?
SU: The most important lessons came from managing successes and failures, which is to know how and when to enjoy success and not be afraid of failure, to know when it’s time to give up, to enjoy something better or when to just take a break.
FWIL: What is the best advice you would give to aspiring legal professionals?
SU: I would recommend that they first find their own models in society, and then try to become role models for others. To have confidence in themselves, to give themselves time to find a balance in personal and professional life, to start practicing from the first years of faculty in order to discover the pluses and minuses of the profession.And in order to become complete, I would recommend them to study other areas related to law or not, such as international relations, politics and, most importantly, philosophy. Because they have outlined the legal norms over the years and it is important to understand why in order to find out if a specific legal norm is fair or not.
FWIL: What attributes do you think every young lawyer needs to have?
SU: In Romania you take an oath before starting the activity precisely to remind you that you are responsible for defending the rights and freedoms of people, and this means that your weapons and shield should first of all be a good professional training, an emotional balance, logic in thinking and knowing how to listen to people.
FWIL: As a lawyer with your own firm, what do you think is the key to getting great reviews?
SU: Good quality of your work, empathy, sincerity, clarity in your answers are builders of the Trust, the foundation of every relationship in life.
FWIL: What recent change/amendment in the law (in your country) has caught your attention? (Do you agree with the change? Why/why not)
SU: One of the downsides in Romania is the fact that there are frequent legislative changes. This creates an environment through which a destabilization occurs in the society, especially in the business sector, and, because of this reason, the members of the legal professions invest a lot of time to be aware of them.Besides the legislative changes made at national level by Parliament or Government, we also have the provisions at European level. Also, the case law of the Constitutional Court of Romania, the Court of Justice of the European Union or the European Court of Human Rights has an influence on the legal provisions.One of the legislative changes that has been adopted at European level is regarding money laundering. The lawyer, although obliged to respect the attorney-client privilege, will have to report to a state authority the incidence of a case provided by the specific legislation in this matter. In other European states, the lawyer has been provided the possibility to report such a case to the Bar of which he is part in order to analyze the incidence of such case so that professional secrecy is not altered. I appreciate that the misinterpretation of the European provision has violated the professional secrecy, but I am confident that the Courts shall amend indirectly the national provision.
FWIL: The world is constantly changing, in your opinion, what are some of the challenges that legal professionals will face in future?
SU: Nowadays we are talking more and more about digitalization in the legal field. In Romania it has been possible to implement in certain parts of the country of electronic files at the level of the courts so that it can be studied online, we have legislative programs that are updated immediately with the latest changes, we also have other types of programs that help us in our professional lives. daily to keep track of legal documents. In law firms from abroad, especially in countries that have a common-law justice system, AI is used for research.I believe that, as industrialization has brought major changes in society in the past, so will major changes through the use of AI. However, in the white-collar professions and especially in the legal field, I do not think we will be replaced by robots, but we can use them for redundant work so that the great challenge will be the professional’s adaptability in working in such a professional environment.
FWIL: As a legal professional, it is quite important to effectively use your network. How do you meet other legal professionals and what are some of your effective networking skills?
SU: I usually meet people at conferences or round tables where I am invited as a speaker or other legal and business events that I am interested in. I like to socialize and try to understand things from different perspectives of others, even if I do not have enough time to attend all the events I am invited to.Also, in the spring of 2019, I attended a course at The Syracuse Institute for criminal justice and human rights, where I also met professionals from all over the world and I established special connections and learned about various legal systems.
FWIL: What does the term “role model” mean to you? Which phenomenal woman in law would you call your role model?
SU: Throughout our lives we learn that certain attributes are needed to be better people or better professionals and we look for examples from society that strive towards the ideal formed to understand these attributes and cultivate them in their own person.I am at a point in my life where I have a clear idea of how I should be and how I can be so I try to be the best original version of myself.
FWIL: What books have you read that have greatly influenced your life?
SU: Each book I read outlined my personality and the choice somehow depended on the emotional, professional, personal moment I was in.I had periods when I read novels (˝The Trial˝- Kafka, ˝1984˝- Orwell, conspiracy novels or police novels-the Maigret collection), psychology (both relational and judicial), philosophy, politics or about entrepreneurship. Each choice came as an answer to the questions I was asking myself at the time and it would seem unfair to choose some to the detriment of others.
FWIL: What’s a quote that you live by? Your mantraSU:Be selective with your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right.
FWIL: How do you remain autonomous while working in the legal field?
SU: I try to make peace with myself, even if I’m not completely autonomous. Sometimes letting the fate or actions of others decide for you may show you a different angle in life that you would not have considered. Other times, especially when I have important interests in mind, I try to lead my life on the principle of doing what is in my best interest because you can’t thank everyone!
FWIL: What is your take on mentorship and are you open to mentoring young lawyers or law students?
SU: I believe that it is our moral duty to pass on knowledge. That’s why we organize internships at USCOV | Attorneys at law and the partners personally take care of preparing the young lawyers. Also, from a pure coincidence it´s been almost a year since I started to offer a form of guidance closer to the young people within the Instagram platform.I also have 2 projects that I prefer to talk about only after I start implementing them, both of which are in the area of Mentoring.
FWIL: How can people reach out to you? (social media handles)
SU: Linkedin Account: Silvia Uscov.
Instagram account: silviauscov.