Articles / Unity in diversity

Unity in diversity

2023 was the year in which Boels Zanders embarked on a new course. A year in which the traditional approach based on areas of law was exchanged for a format that better suits clients’ demands. It was also a year in which diversity within the organisation was celebrated as never before. That really has impact, we’re often told. On the cusp of 2024, we would like to explain exactly what that impact is.


Together with Jeroen Oehlen, Maruca Overdijk, Maurice Scheepers and Charlotte Klein, we look back and ahead. Two veterans and two young talents in the business. With different experiences and interests between the four of us, but among the differences, we find similarities above all. Unanimity even when it comes to the steps the organisation has taken in the past year.


Broadening and deepening

Our new direction focuses not only on what unites us, but also on what makes each of us different. For Charlotte, that message was one of the main reasons for choosing us. “I didn’t see myself entering the legal profession anymore. I really enjoy the content aspect, but not most of the firms. But Boels Zanders really stood out for me. It all went much deeper, it was far more personal.” She values that individuality and authenticity. “I am in the process of walking my own path. And Boels Zanders is a good fit in that respect.”

That scope to be able to be yourself and share your passions is something Maurice also recognises. Last year, he gave a presentation to partners on the development of AI, a topic that is widely discussed within our firm. “I find that extremely interesting because it can have so many societal implications. In the legal profession too, the expectation is that AI can take a lot of bulk work out of our hands.”

Really listening

‘Unity in diversity’: within our office, that was the number one theme of 2023. Because in a world where contrasts are so great, we think it is important to keep looking for common ground. “No matter how big the differences are, underneath there is always a certain amount of connection,” says Maruca. She sees it every day in her role as a lawyer and mediator.

The key word here appears to be really listening. Maruca: “Regularly, we listen until we recognise something of our own story in that of our interlocutor. Then we share our own experience, and then the other person thinks: ‘That’s actually not what I meant.'” Really listening means switching off all preconceptions and bridging differences by asking questions. And that is badly needed, nowadays. Climate, migration, livelihood security: these are major societal issues that are straining relations between groups.

We cherish that commitment, also as a firm. “I see that young people are very concerned,” says Jeroen. “That commitment is good, you certainly shouldn’t become jaded.” At the same time, he sees that Boels Zanders is a stable environment. A beacon of calm in a difficult world. From that position, we not only update clients on judgments and changes in the law, but also inform them of legal issues in a broader context.

Looking ahead

Jeroen: “In our articles we explain what we are good at and what we stand for. We visit ambitious businesses and organisations, frontrunners who often spot developments before other organisations. “We know what clients are concerned about,” Charlotte adds. “We can do more and know more than just the legal side.” In the coming year, we will look ahead even more. Every quarter, we will choose a theme that we expand on during a gathering and a series of articles.

Maurice, meanwhile, hopes to keep doing mostly what he is doing now and continue his steep learning curve to become an even better lawyer. “I am very keen to get to know my place within the organisation better.” As a legal expert, Charlotte wants to explore whether she might want to become a lawyer after all: delving deeper into content on the one hand or being active throughout the organisation on the other.

Being good to each other

Keep developing yourself: it is the most important topic of our time. It was no surprise that Jeroen took a three-month sabbatical this year. Cycling through Italy: it was possible, because the organisation is so solid. “I had no bucket list, no stress, I enjoy doing my job. But I thought it would be nice to finally have an empty diary for once after 25 years. I found it kind of comfortable, knowing that things will be fine even without you.”

As it turns out, celebrating diversity is not at all complicated. Talk to each other, work together, have fun. Experience as much connection and learning as we experience ourselves.

On behalf of all Boels Zanders colleagues, Charlotte, Maurice, Maruca and Jeroen wish it to you wholeheartedly. Here’s to a successful end and a united beginning to the New Year!

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