An in-depth look at Ioana Hrisafi-Josan of Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii covering her career path, education, and top projects as a lawyer as well as a few insights about her as a manager at work and as a person outside the office.
Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii, Co-Head of Litigation and Arbitration, 2008-present
Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii, Partner, 2008-present
Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii, Senior Associate, 2005-2007
Musat & Asociatii, Senior Associate, 2002-2005
Bucharest 5th District Court, Court President/Vice-President, 1999-2002
Bucharest 5th District Court, Judge, 1995-2002
Out of office activity: Spending time with my children
Quote: Opposing “believe and don’t doubt” – except for religious matters
Book: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Movie: Sieranevada by Cristi Puiu
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Law, Law Degree, 2005
National Institute of Magistracy, 2005-2007
Top 5 Projects:
Representing Gedeon Richter, one of the leading regional players in the pharma industry, in a multi-million tax dispute against local authorities;
Representing Telekom Romania Mobile Communications in a dispute where Romania’s regulatory authority for communications sanctioned the company for having placed data services on the market. The dispute involved issues of internet neutrality;
Representing the Romanian National Lottery Company in challenging a decision taken by the Romanian Competition Council following investigations into accusations of cartel by market share fixing;
Representing Allianz in a multi-million-euro damage litigation which raised important legal issues regarding aviation law, among which the possibility to claim damages exceeding the insurance indemnity;
Representing Uber BV in several litigation cases initiated by taxi companies and drivers seeking a ban on the alleged unfair commercial practice of ride-sharing services delivered in three Romanian cities through the Uber online platform.
What would you say was the most challenging project you ever worked on and why?
Hrisafi-Josan: I had many challenging cases, especially competition cases and arbitrations, but the one I would name here is a civil law case that has become a real saga. The case concerned the restitution of a property confiscated by the communist regime in 1949 under dramatic circumstances. The litigation kicked off in 1999, with our team of lawyers getting involved in 2005 and obtaining a favorable decision of restitution in 2014. During this time, we fought many battles in court, with five rounds of appeals out of which four resulted in the case being remanded for a new trial. The sheer range of arguments, both procedural and substantive, was stupendous, ranging from expropriation and private versus public property to the protection of historical monuments. Our team presented four separate expert reports of great complexity, while our opponents repeatedly discovered new documents in the archives and submitted them in court. Several parallel cases were opened seeking to block public works threatening to reshape and transform the property during the trial. As their rights continued to be restricted after the decision of restitution was finally obtained in 2014, the clients have directed us to open a new court case, which is still pending.
And what was your main takeaway from it?
Hrisafi-Josan: I have learned that courts are more and more heavily influenced by public opinion, whichever that may be at a certain moment in the life of a community, but also that one should never cease to rely on and reaffirm long-established principles of law when seeking protection in court for universally recognized individual rights.
What is one thing clients likely don’t know about you?
Hrisafi-Josan: That, even though I was coming from a seven-year career as a sitting judge, in my first year as an attorney I was afraid of speaking in public.
Name one mentor who played a big role in your career and how they impacted you.
Hrisafi-Josan: The law firm I joined in my first year as an attorney was a young organization, most of my colleagues being of the same age and professional experience as me, so I cannot really relate to any of them as a mentor. I would mention, though, my colleague Cornel Popa, who is an eminent arbitration lawyer and who already had several years of practice ahead of me when I first got involved in arbitration cases. Up to that point, I was used to looking at a case from the perspective of a judge, a perspective more theoretical than practical. Cornel showed me how to approach and build a case as a lawyer, while also guiding me on the basics of international arbitration.
Name one mentee you are particularly proud of.
Hrisafi-Josan: This would be Alin Ionescu, who joined our team in 2015 as a Junior Lawyer and is now a Senior Associate in our litigation team. He is primarily focused on intellectual property and consumer protection litigation, as well as labor law litigation. He is very thorough in his legal research, on even those minor law issues raised by a case, is well organized and focused, and has already developed good litigator skills.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself fresh out of law school?
Hrisafi-Josan: To look for the emerging areas of law in a continuously changing world. To search for satisfaction in finding new paths and unexplored fields.
This Article was originally published in Issue 9.4 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.