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Passion makes... business

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By Claudia Ariton
If anyone forgets the baby steps taken when starting their business or career, they forget their very foundation. This is a principle which, after years of experience, has turned into a true motto and helped Adrian Calin Cuculis conquer success and become one of the most sought-after lawyers in the market, heading his own law firm, Cuculis & Associates.
With a deep understanding of human psychology, he is always ready to launch his projects against a sea of challenges, and act like a swim belt when he generously offers help to clients in need of a viable solution. After long years of hard work, at the age of 31, he has already become a respected and well-known entrepreneur in his field.

Anyone who knows Adrian Cuculis will admit that he is a mixture of common sense, professionalism, higher education, dedication and diligence. Why do they say that? Cuculis himself explains: “Ninety percent of my life happens in the office. I live around the clock and my usual day of work lasts a minimum of 12 hours, spent focusing on my files and clients. I am lucky enough to have my hobby as my lifetime profession. Being a lawyer simply fascinates me, so I truly don’t mind dedicating one hundred percent of my time to this activity,” he told Business Arena in a very open, face-to-face interview. “Being in love with my job, as they say, I feel a certain unease when I have to be away for a longer period of time, such as… when I am travelling on vacation,” he says with a smile.  When did he discover his passion for the law? “A long time back!  In my childhood, to be precise. I suppose I’ve always had it in my blood. To give you one simple example, as a child I used to spend a lot of time in the school yard, where many conflicts tend to happen. Directly involved or not, I could never stay away when I would see some sort of injustice being done. Later – and I admit, I also owe it to my parents, who are legal experts by profession – I graduated from two universities: The Law School and the Un University of Arts. I attended both faculties at the same time.“
Adrian Cuculis has also followed a very determined path in developing his academic interests, obtaining a judicial master’s degree and a master’s degree in human rights. He is currently a post-graduate student at the Police Academy, where he teaches civil law. It’s a branch he is specialized in, a branch which, along with criminal law, is under the competence of his law firm. Cuculis is also an expert in family law, banking law, as well as commercial and sea law.

He started off in 2010, with an investment of 10,000 euro, and seven years later he has built a business, which has brought him the expected success. He now owns three law offices in Bucharest, Constanta and Timisoara, and more and more clients knock on his door. “I am specialized in foreclosure cases, but I also deal with the same dedication with court cases between individuals and banking institutions, the new “datio in solutum,” as well as cases of abusive clauses, rebalancing or situations of currency rate freezing. I gave a market share of 1.4 of all datio in solutum (giving in payment) cases in Romania – according to a recent National Bank research – meaning some 8,000 court cases,“ he explained.
While emphasizing that a lawyer should never allow their “brain to grow old,” he says: “Profit comes from good references from satisfied clients, with whom you have communicated efficiently and whom you have treated with maximum attention and professionalism. I have learned from my own experience that even when you lose an important trial, if the client is convinced of your complete dedication to the case, they will remain your loyal client.”

Cuculis sticks to his firm beliefs, and sees his clients as partners. “My client, no matter who that person might be, is my partner. I truly believe so,” says Cuculis, whose guiding principles are honesty and dedication. He has applied the same two principles in coordinating his employees, whose number has increased from three, seven years ago, to 24.
He also points out that he has learned that communicating with the client is vital, as that client has a story to tell. “One is launching the challenge and the other has the difficult task of taking it over and becoming a guide on a path that, in the early stages, no one knows where it may lead. The lawyer cannot guarantee the success of a particular case, but they can guarantee their commitment. In his case, he also emphasizes the role of his team, which, according to him, has become a lot stronger, comprising a group of talented and hardworking people, who are only satisfied when they receive excellent feedback from their clients.
Based on that reality, their coordinator dares to see a Cuculis and Associates structure with at least four lawyers in each of the major counties throughout Romania within 10 years. He confesses that he fights for that goal every day, taking small, but certain steps forward. He plans, he collects information, he makes calculations. And, next year, he is ready to open a territorial center in Bacau and another one in Suceava. It’s quite a difficult task, Cuculis admits, as he first needs to identify the right location and the right specialized personnel for the type of issues people in that part of the country have to deal with. “We must offer a strong image that can give potential clients confidence. It’s a difficult thing to do, because a strong image takes a long time to build. The right image sets the right tone for a prosperous business, along with other ingredients such as professionalism and trustworthiness ,“ says Cuculis.

How do all these professional ambitions blend in with his personal life?
He admits to investing a lot of time in the professional side of life, allowing much less time for the private aspects. The ventures into the world of leisure seldom happen nowadays, but he still does enjoy a good boxing or swimming session. Adrian Cuculis loves his adrenalin rush and makes sure he never misses on that feeling. This is one of the reasons why he has started to enjoy his piloting lessons more and more. In the office, he hunts for the joy and the satisfaction of his clients, but up there, at the helm of his plane, while flying beyond the clouds, he hunts for peace and liberation from all the commotion of everyday life in the office, which, surprisingly enough, fits him like a glove. His long hours in the office is the only aspect of his life he can sacrifice for the sake of truth though, he says.
Cuculis strongly believes he can achieve anything he sets his mind to, even if, as he put it, “I am anything but a lawyer with supernatural powers.”  But one can also see a glimpse of his sensitive nature, when he speaks about the cases related to the violent miners’ raids in Bucharest in the early ‘90s. “A 15-year-old girl was arrested by the police and her parents received no news from her. It led to a real tragedy: one of her family members committed suicide,” said Cuculis.

Those are difficult cases and situations, real challenges for any lawyer. Adrian Cuculis uses all his arms in the court battle, and all his knowledge and experience in building a strong case. And if the case fails, he, as a lawyer, fails too, he insists. The owner of Cuculis and Associates is glad to put all his time and dedication into building his cases and has only one regret, he says with a smile: he is sorry... there isn’t a second Adrian Cuculis. “I would need another me to take all the cases of those who need my help.”
He also spoke about his pro bono work, an aspect which has shaped his personality and brought him the success he enjoys today. Ten percent of his cases bring no profit to him, he said proudly. “As I have been lucky enough to receive, I might as well give something back to the society,” he explained.

In order to improve the services offered to clients, he has ordered a new website, “It’s a service which can be used when you have an emergency. Through this website, my team and myself answer for free to any questions in the Cuculis and Associates area of competence.”
Success has made him not only satisfied, but it has also given him the strength to carry on, traveling down the same bumpy road full of legislative faults or gaps. This is one of his dissatisfactions: “The legal assistance system is poorly built and lawyers experience up to four-months’ delay in their payment,”
Cuculis says. The financial aspect occupies a secondary place in his profession, and he admits that even the opportunities are seen
as challenges. One of these opportunities recently came from the European Court of Human Rights. “The Commission is looking
to collaborate with big law firms that could write down all the complaints reaching this institution, because many of them end up being rejected in the administrative procedure,” he told Business Arena.
Adrian Cuculis openly revealed that he had an almost unstoppable tendency of offering help, even when he feels disappointed, and even when he senses that his clients are not entirely honest with him. Positive and with an understanding smile, he explains that most of his clients have a strong tendency of mentioning aspects which are in their favor forgetting to be objective in front of their own lawyer.
Overall, he is grateful to his father for his life lessons and guidance during the early days of his entrepreneurial project. For those considering a similar venture, he has the following advice: “Don’t get too cozy when you open your own business, or else you might jeopardize a promising start.”

The interview is also available in our print edition of Business Arena.

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