One of the most important goals of TEN, the European Network of Law Firms, is to provide its member firms and clients with access to a constantly growing collection of knowledge articles online, offering a valuable insight into how the law concerning the same issues differs from country to country across Europe.
At present, the TEN Knowledge Hub contains dozens of articles, case studies, guides to Doing Business in Europe, and Q&As on bankruptcy and insolvency, as well as divorce and separation, all produced by the network’s members and focused on a variety of topics that go beyond borders.
The committee for sharing knowledge was created by Adolfo Martos during his chairmanship of TEN and Bas Jacobs, one of the lawyers at TEN Advocaten in the Netherlands, is responsible for leading it. Jacobs is very positive about being part of one of TEN’s two committees – the other being the committee for prospective members, headed up by Maciej Kapczuk of Poland’s Kanski Kapczuk Kniat-Borsut Sp.p. – and thoroughly enjoys working with the board and taking an active role in meetings.
“The idea was to exchange information between TEN’s members and give firms an overview of information about other countries without having to ask,” Jacobs explains. “My job is to get our members motivated to write new content, contribute to our shared understanding of the law and make the process as simple as possible.”
Members started out by writing articles solely about their own jurisdictions and areas of law in which they were particularly interested or expert, but they lacked a comparative approach and were not available on a regular basis due to the pressure of lawyers’ workloads and other commitments.
So, TEN’s board and Jacobs decided to develop Q&A formats about subjects – including bankruptcy and insolvency, which involves both corporate and personal law issues, and divorce and separation – that were relevant to all member firms and could be more easily compiled and compared than individual contributions.
Now that these sections have been completed by almost all of TEN’s member firms, Jacobs is looking forward to new Q&As on other subjects which are proposed by him or other fellow lawyers.
Since taking over as chairman of TEN in May 2018, Luiza Budușan, has renewed the network’s commitment to share knowledge between members and has incorporated the development of TEN’s knowledge hub into the network’s vision for the future.
Jacobs admits his job is not always easy: his fellow lawyers face time constraints, identifying champions to create content in each firm can be a challenge, not all of the members of TEN cover the same practice areas, and, sometimes, members have to be reminded of the benefits of sharing what they know.
Nevertheless, as Jacobs points out, “some people can and will produce more than others, but everybody stands to benefit. Even when a firm is simply made up of different lawyers who work together under a single brand name or in the same office, all its members can make a collective gain when they share knowledge.”
Jacobs completed his studies at the University of Utrecht in 1999 and qualified as a lawyer in 2001, after working as a paralegal in the meantime. His first position was as an insolvency trustee at a firm of lawyers and tax advisors, where he spent over ten years, before joining a new firm that specialised in financial advice, mortgages and court-ordered bankruptcy proceedings. He is a member of Insolad, the Dutch Association of Insolvency Lawyers.
In 2010, he, two other lawyers and three support staff joined the law firm that rebranded to become TEN Advocaten in 2018, after a merger of two previous firms. There, Jacobs now divides his time equally between acting as a trustee in bankruptcy and insolvency matters, and concentrating on corporate law cases: “This usually includes lots of finance, banking and debt-related issues or drafting contracts and advising on business disputes,” he notes.
Outside of the office, Jacobs tries to free up space for social activities – “A couple of times a month, when we have time, I meet a group of friends in the town where I live,” he says. “We go out for dinner and have drinks afterwards” – and sports like swimming, which he has recently taken up after giving up tennis, because of back problems he blames on the time he spends sitting at his desk in his day job.
Jacobs lives with his partner and their children, a boy aged 13 and a daughter of 10, in a small village which is part of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where he grew up and where TEN Advocaten has their main office.