When the office in Stockholm opened in 1991, Carl Svernlöv had been working at Baker McKenzie's office in New York since October 1990. As a newly graduated lawyer, he worked in M&A in one of the world's most transaction-dense markets. In 1993, Carl moved back to Sweden and joined the Stockholm office.
With a career spanning over three decades, Carl has some interesting reflections. We asked Carl to share the biggest differences between being a lawyer in 1991 and today.
"When I joined the Stockholm office, Swedish attorneys worked more independently as full legal advisers to their clients, regardless of the subject matter. Lawyers were expected to know a little bit about all areas of business law and it was only natural for a one and the same attorney to provide substantive advice in M&A, employment law and tax all in one day. Today we are much more specialized. In New York, the trend toward a clearer specialization was already under way and the Swedish market later followed suit. Partly at the expense of a broad general legal competence, our lawyers today have a much deeper expertise in their respective niches and are therefore able to assist in increasingly complex matters. This is a development that I believe is still ongoing and our lawyers today are more specialized and knowledgeable in their areas than ever before."
"As an extension of the specialization came professionalization. When the lawyers gained deeper but narrower expertise, they became more dependent on cooperating with each other. The development led to a professionalization of the entire industry and the profession of business lawyer as such. Today, it is broadly accepted that the ability to professionally deliver a broad range of complex legal advice requires teams of skilled lawyers. In this way, law firms have increased their professionalism and ability to deliver value to our clients. Therefore, I am grateful to have more than 6,000 legal advisers as colleagues at Baker McKenzie."
Digitization and efficiency
"It may seem strange, but 30 years ago lawyers, clients and counterparties communicated mainly by letter, or, at best, by fax and courier. Thus, the pace of cases and advice was comparatively slow. It was not uncommon for a round of negotiations of a commercial agreement by letter to take a couple of weeks. As we gained better digital tools for working and communicating, the pace gradually increased. A matter that took weeks to finish in 1991 only takes a few days today. That way, today, we are more efficient and can deliver more advice in less time."