Delphine Iweins has a dual background as a lawyer and journalist. She focuses on the practice of business law around the world, particularly in countries where freedom of expression is restricted. She has been a legal journalist for ten years in the professional and general press, and now works for a national business daily. Delphine Iweins is also a founding member of the Cercle des Journalistes Juridiques.
She recently published "The unsuspected influence of business lawyers", and it is in this context that we met her.
You co-created the Cercle des Journalistes Juridiques, could you tell us more?
The idea to create the Cercle des Journalistes Juridiques (CJJ) was born during a professional lunch in January 2017 with five other legal journalists: Olivia Dufour, Anne Portmann, Clémentine Delzanno, Laurence Garnerie and Clémentine Kleitz.
We found that there was a real community of legal journalists who were used to meeting and working together. However, unlike other journalistic specialities, ours had no dedicated space, even though the law is becoming increasingly important in public debate.
So we decided to create an association that would be a place of confraternity, reflection and representation on the public scene.
The objectives of the YJC are to
- topromote the progress and quality of the treatment of legal issues in all forms of press, beyond the exclusively judicial angle;
- tostimulate fraternal relations between journalists in charge of deciphering the news of the legal world, which is as much technical as political;
- todevelop relations between its members and personalities of all kinds whose activity affects French or international legal life.
To this end, the CJJ establishes privileged relations with the main public players on the legal scene (cabinets and technical directorates of the ministries in charge of the reforms of the next five years, independent administrative authorities, representatives of the legal and judicial professions, universities, etc.), and organises formal and informal meetings between its members.
You have been a journalist for over eleven years, how has the legaltech sector evolved since its appearance in France?
Almost ten years after their emergence on the legal market, legaltechs are still struggling to attract investors, but the market is becoming more structured. It is perhaps a mistake to talk about legaltech in general. Several markets can be identified, ranging from business start-up assistance to legal information, and including the connection to a legal intermediary.
Little by little, in order to better differentiate themselves, the legal start-ups slipped slightly, with success, into business creation. Wishing to accompany their clients for an ever longer period of time, legaltechs then positioned themselves on intermediation with lawyers.
However, it is those that are positioned on purely B-to-B models that have attracted the most attention from investors. Some, such as Hyperlex, target legal departments, while others, such as Doctrine, focus on lawyers, for example.
There is also a growing desire to internationalise legaltechs, particularly in Africa and the United States.
You wrote the book : The unsuspected influence of business lawyers - how much influence do they have?
Business lawyers and more generally lawyers are the shadowy artisans of the economic, social and sometimes civic life of a state. Their roles vary from country to country. Business lawyers have an economic influence, of course, but not only that. They also play important political and societal roles.
This is what I discovered during my meetings around the world over a period of two years.
For example, in China and Russia, the law is much younger than in the US or France. In Tunisia, there is not really a culture of business law, yet business lawyers played an important role in the Jasmine Revolution. In the chapter on the US, we see that law is an important diplomatic weapon and this will only increase over time.
Why did you choose this topic?
At the time, I was working in a corporate law firm. I noticed that the general public and the people around me who did not come from this field did not necessarily know what a corporate lawyer was. When we talked about lawyers, the image of the criminal lawyer came up every time.
I wanted to see how corporate lawyers were perceived around the world and how they practised their profession abroad. I wanted to know what limits corporate lawyers may have with regard to their clients and political powers.
In what context did you write this book?
I chose one country per continent, where freedom of expression is known to be highly regulated, and I went for two years from 2012 to 2014. France and the United States were the two reference countries for this survey, both in terms of freedom of expression and the legal system.
I started with the US (Barack Obama had just been re-elected), then Singapore and Hong Kong (two key Asian countries). I then moved on to Russia (where Edward Snowden had just sought asylum after fleeing the US and transiting through Hong Kong), then Tunisia (the country was then in the midst of reconstruction and a provisional government was working on a new constitution). The investigation ended in Brazil, in the midst of preparations for the 2014 football World Cup, and as protests against the rule of President Dilma Rousseff intensified.
During several months on site, I met with business lawyers, legal experts, law students, academics, etc. I wrote articles, reports and interviews published in the project's partner media, such as Dalloz Actualité, Le Monde du Droit and Village du Justice, and on the website created for the occasion. I wrote articles, reports and interviews published in the project's media partners, such as Dalloz Actualité, Le Monde du Droit and the Village de la Justice, and on the website created for the occasion.
In view of the current events and the history of each country I visited, I realised that the people I had met had since had quite extraordinary destinies, including receiving the Nobel Peace Prize!
I had a lot of material left over, I thought a book was the right way to put it all forward and it was time to tell it all.
What feedback have you had from the public?
You should ask readers what they thought.
What touched me the most was that, according to the feedback I got, the book was of interest not only to those working in the legal field, but also to curious citizens who are not specialists in legal issues, students, connoisseurs of international relations, etc.
So a huge target! That was the aim, because the law concerns us all.
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