NautaDutilh / New Belgian Company Code

By Jo Vanwittenbergh, Marketing & Business Development Manager / Knowledge & Information Manager at NautaDutilh

The NautaDutilh videos (see below) of the Belgian Code of Companies & Associations are an excellent example of co-creation, collaboration and teamwork within a law firm. It has been a journey in which lawyers (fee earners), staff (non-fee earners) and an external player (video strategy agency Story.me) invested lots of time and energy and came up with a result that matched the objective. 

This journey started during the spring of 2017, when it became clear that the reform of the Belgian Company Code was entering its final stages. At that time, a working group with several lawyers and members of the Business Development, Marketing & Communications (BMC) was formed in order to create an action plan. I will spare you all the details about brainstorming sessions and people’s opinions because that’s worth a separate article. In any case, everyone quickly agreed that videos would be part of the whole communication mix we would use to highlight the changes resulting from this new reform. We also agreed (after some discussions) that the videos could not be the typical “interview style” ones. But that was about it. The rest was left to our own interpretation.

What was, of course, crystal clear was that the lawyers needed to come up with the content,. And that was already a huge challenge, knowing that the texts of the Code were not yet definite. At that moment only non-official versions of the text were available. First job: read the 700 pages and then divide up task:

- Identifying the main topics to highlight

- Who will write on which topic

- Finalisation of texts in mother tongue and translation into French or Dutch + English

and all of that while respecting the deadlines.

That, in itself, took a bit of time and coordination but just imagine the fact that those texts had to be re-worked by non-lawyers for a video script? No way!

Our BMC team understood that the choice of the video agency would be crucial and we dug into our contacts to see who would be up to this task. After talking to some people and receiving feedback and references, we got in touch with StoryMe and there was a click. It was a relief to feel that Vincent Dardenne, our initial contact person, quickly understood what we wanted to achieve. That and the fact that he has a Master’s in Law have undoubtedly helped ☺.

But the proof of the pudding would as always be in the eating. And the pudding was nowhere near being served yet. 

With part of the content in hand, a first commercial offer to be negotiated and a briefing drafted, it was time to meet the creative brains of StoryMe. I was anxious to find out whether they would grasp what it would be like for a law firm and for lawyers to communicate the way we described the tone of voice of the videos.  That was: “The tone of voice should be such that people would want to watch the videos at 11 pm. And that they will smile about it. But at the same time, the message should be clear and stick in their heads.” And they did. Not only did they grasp it; they took the idea, they worked on it and they transformed it to “their world”.

It may sound like everything went smoothly and without feedback and improvements but this was absolutely not the case. Texts were re-worked, scripts were sent back and forth, images were shown and rejected, details were added and removed again. And this was even before we showed the first images to the lawyers ;-). It was a difficult process, involving several different stakeholders with different opinions, with moving deadlines (the official launch date of the new Belgian Code of Companies & Associations being postponed a few times), with high expectations and in between several other projects for everyone concerned. But we finally made it and we very much look forward to receiving your feedback.    

And at least, during this journey, we have again learned a few things:

  1. Working as a team works better
  2. Working as a team is more stressful
  3. Working as team requires (project) management skills
  4. Working as team is to share difficult times and to celebrate every (small) success
  5. Working as a team is much more rewarding than working alone

A big thank you to all the team members who made this possible. 

- NautaDutilh’s lawyers on the New Company Code Action Team: Dirk Van Gerven, Elke Janssens, Nicolas de Crombrugghe, Ken Lioen, Philippine de Wolf, Maxime Colle, Lorraine Vercauteren, Arie Van Hoe, Michiel Nuitten and Louise-Anne Bertin. 

- NautaDutilh’s BMC Team: Jo Vanwittenbergh, Elena Zlatevski, Evy Van Den Block and Britt Janssens

- The dedicated team @ StoryMe: Vincent Dardenne, Hanne Van Vlaenderen, Ashwin Visser, Kobe Viaene, Fred Penninck, Laurent Cammaert, Roxanne Sarkozi, Ashley Galeyn