She’s been a lawyer with Procesinvest for eight years, and prior to that she was employed with another law firm for eight years. When she applied for law school, she knew already then that law was going to be more than just a job for her. In our interview with Radka Šulcová, we asked her a about a number of issues which we believe you might be most interested in.
How will I know which lawyer is the best one for a specific case? Is there any way an amateur can tell any difference?
As in other situations in life as well, you will always be on the safe side if you rely on your common sense. So if you’re seeing a lawyer and after only a short conversation you have a queer feeling and doubts, that individual is probably not the right person for you. On the other hand, if you entered a law office and even before being offered a seat you were told three times that they are the best, you would probably change your mind as well. To put it in simple words: lawyers should be able to understandably explain your situation; they should recommend a strategy and explain what such an approach will entail, also in terms of finances. Some things you will not be able to recognize at first glance, but others you can, even if you’re not an expert.
Members of the legal profession are often badmouthed in public discussions. Why do you think it is so?
Well, they are people like everyone else. Of course they should be educated, experienced and ethical, but they are also only people like you and me, they are a part of our society, which is the way it is. But I am a born optimist, so I am fortunately still able to see the overwhelming majority of decent people around me: capable and conscientious colleagues who I can ask for advice in their particular field of law. Lawyers are the same as all of us; and there are many more good ones than bad ones.
Are lawyers – apart from the law and their conscience – bound by anything else?
Yes, lawyers are of course bound by their clients’ instructions, and they are also bound by law to maintain strict confidentiality to their client’s benefit and interest. Therefore, I see with great concern any attempts to breach this confidentiality privilege, particularly by law enforcement agencies. In a state under the rule of law, defendants or litigants have always had the right to consult with an attorney of their choice. The right to consult with someone who is on my side and who represents my interests is the essence of a lawyer’s relation to clients and one of the distinguishing features of a constitutional democracy. Therefore, there are litigations where it is mandatory to have a lawyer – in our country this applies to penal trials or some administrative matters. If the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer to his side.
Is a lawyer – apart from the law and their conscience – bound by anything else?
Yes, an attorney is of course bound by the instructions of their client. In his or her benefit the lawyer is bound by confidentiality. Therefore, I always watch with great concern every attempt to breach this confidentiality, for example towards the executors. Since the times of the ancient Rome the defendants or litigants have had an opportunity to consult with an attorney of their choice. The option to consult my difficult situation with someone who is on my side is the essence of a lawyer’s relation with the client and in general the main feature of the modern state at all. Therefore, there are cases – in our country in some criminal or administrative matters – when it is mandatory to have a lawyer, and if the person does not have his or her own, is assigned by one.
Public media often speak about the desolate state of the Czech legal system. They refer to long waiting times, a judicial mafia, and conflicts between various interest groups. What is the situation in the Czech judicial system from the perspective of an expert? And what is like in comparison with other European countries?
Frankly, the state of the Czech judicial system is really not so bad, even in comparison with Western European countries. Of course there are many things that work better there than here. In particular, constant jurisdiction is widely spread and more sophisticated, so that decisions passed down by courts are more predictable. In some countries, for example Germany, courts work more efficiently and faster. But here we have the free commercial register available on the Internet, in some parts also the land register, insolvency proceedings can be monitored online in detail, and there is much more. Even the waiting times and public-oriented attitude have improved here and there. Of course, there are still numerous significant flaws in this system, but there is cause for cautious optimism.
What do you like best about working as a lawyer?
I like working on specific and often very complicated cases, I like seeing the results of my work and my decisions, being able to see where we have been successful and where we have to work harder. In my opinion, the appeal of working as a lawyer lies in the fact that we have to apply relatively universal methods and procedures to dozens of specific situations and at the same time be able to bring into alignment these two often very remote levels.
Surveys show that people often do not know what to do if they want or need to go to court. Do you have any advice for these?
I think that people should proceed here as they would in other situations in life as well, for example when buying a car. Of course I can select a car by myself, with all due caution, but if it’s a used car, I might want to consult somebody who knows something about cars. That is why I would always recommend consulting a lawyer who will draw my attention to obstacles and procedures to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and errors. My advice is: if there is a significant amount or value at stake, always consult a lawyer.
How can Procesinvest help individuals assert their legitimate claims?
A look at our company’s history shows the positive aspects of our activities: we can see the cases we dealt with intensively and helped bring to a successful conclusion. If there are large sums of money at stake, it is really not easy for people to fund the entire lawsuit by themselves, and this is where we offer our cooperation.
How should people proceed if they want to go to the court and cannot afford it?
I can only urge them to get in touch with us and to schedule an appointment to discuss their matters personally. I believe that they will be surprised to learn that going to court to find justice is often easier than they thought.
What should people do to avoid finding themselves in a situation where taking legal action appears to be the only available recourse option?
As in other spheres of life as well, prevention is essential. If I work every day on a computer without regularly running data backup, I’d be facing a major problem if my hard disk broke down. That applies also if I set up my own business and use contracts downloaded from the Internet: I can cause myself a lot of serious problems. The large majority of legal problems can be avoided by careful preparation of contracts and documents. This is not always an easy job, that much is true, but from my professional experience I know that it’s always worthwhile.
What would you wish the readers of this website?
I would particularly like to wish them good luck in carrying on their business and work without costly lawsuits and other unpleasant legal surprises. But if these issues do arise, I wish them to find legal assistance by people who will really understand their situation and who can provide fast and effective support to solve their problems.
Interview conducted by Leoš Bárta