Originally set up in 1986 by partners Egbert van Ewijk and Jos van de Wouw, the firm of Van Ewijk Advocaten Mediators demerged in 2009 and, today, specializes in four practice areas: corporate, family, labour and property law. Furthermore, it has forged a reputation for receivership work in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings.
Around 70% of the firm’s clients are companies, most of which are Dutch medium-sized businesses but also include multinational enterprises employing in excess of 5,000 people. It also provides mediation services for all kinds of family-law issues, drawing on the experience of two of its associates.
“What makes us different,” van Ewijk explains, “is our unwavering focus on our clients. We are very conscious of the importance of personal contact and direct communications. Our goal is to offer pragmatic solutions that, where required, go above and beyond the law. For example, we also offer advice on business matters.”
Van Ewijk is an ardent proponent of participatory management, regularly inviting all the firm’s staff to participate in cases where their opinions and ideas may benefit a client’s interests: “We have full confidence in our associates,” he insists. “There is no real leader here, although I do sometimes have to make decisions.”
In addition to its legal work, the firm is committed to making a positive contribution to the community. Van Ewijk serves as a non-executive director on the board of banks and accountancy firms, and, in April 2016, received a knighthood in the order of Orange-Nassau by King Willem-Alexander for his social activities. Other associates are active in sectors such as healthcare and non-profit organisations, including JCI and Rotary International. The firm sits on the jury of local business awards that recognise social entrepreneurship and CSR initiatives.
After 30 years in business, van Ewijk says his proudest achievement is simply providing the best possible solutions for his clients. Without wishing to cite specific cases, he mentions the successful work the firm did regarding international labour law on behalf of a company that operates in the transportation industry, for whom it was able to uphold the right to employ drivers from outside the European Union.
It is precisely that kind of cross-border question that led Van Ewijk Advocaten Mediators to help create TEN in the first place. It collaborated closely with the Belgian firm, Lexetera, on a case for Russian clients who were shipping goods from Greece to the Netherlands, via the port of Antwerp in Belgium, with a client in France.
Van Ewijk and Lexetera were both already part of a French association of law firms but saw the need to develop a larger network of lawyers across the entire EU area to offer more comprehensive legal solutions. TEN allows them to transfer cases to trusted colleagues in other jurisdictions, secure in the knowledge that their clients will be looked after with the same care and attention to detail.
Outside of the office, van Ewijk is a devoted family man, the father of four grown-up children and grandfather to a growing gaggle of grandchildren. Whenever he gets the opportunity, he heads for the golf course to “free up my mind”, although he admits it is also a great place to network.