At Crafty Counsel, we regularly focus on getting to know more about a member of our in-house legal community. This week we speak to Gabi Tadmor, Legal Counsel at Mapiq, based in Amsterdam. Her company is a workplace platform that enables organisations to manage shared office space. She is also one of Crafty Counsel’s Local Ambassador in the Netherlands capital.

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From Cape Town to Amsterdam

Gabi obtained her joint law and history in Cape Town, South Africa, and spent her first two years out of law school into a “generalised, small firm”. Quite soon into the private practice journey, she realised the law firm culture wasn’t right for her.

“I was really interested in tech. And I wanted to be part of that growth scene”

She joined Vodacom, Vodafone’s subsidiary in South Africa, after two years in private practice and says that it represented a “really great first step into the in-house world”. She got a great understanding of how “the different parts all come together” in a large business. 

Having gotten experience in a larger corporation, she now wanted to gravitate towards “pure tech” in a smaller environment, which is what led her to her current company. Gabi was determined to find something “completely new”, in a company with a growth mindset and a faster pace, so she could challenge herself.  

Her move to Amsterdam did not come without its doubters. “A lot of people said to me: it wouldn’t be possible,” Gabi says. She adds that she got a lot of comments stemming from the perception in the legal world that besides wherever you get your law degree, you wouldn’t be able to practice law or work as a lawyer anywhere else in the world. 

But she persevered and landed the job at Mapiq. As soon as she got to her new city, Gabi knew she “wasn’t going to survive this process without having a community”. Having stumbled upon Crafty Counsel in her job search, she decided to start the Crafty Local Community in Amsterdam, where she has found a big group of expat lawyers like herself, who she has come to rely on for legal queries and suggestions.

“I really think that if you have good people around you, it will only lead to good things. I fully believe in networking”

Biggest wins while being in-house?

Gabi explains that believing in herself whilst successfully emigrating from South Africa and getting her role at Mapiq without having a Dutch master’s degree – in law or the language – is her biggest achievement.  

Her sole legal counsel role has been a “big confidence boost”, especially previously coming from large company environments where a lot of decisions were monitored from above. 

“I am the sole legal counsel and manage the legal function of my company efficiently without feeling like anything is lacking or like my company is falling apart. Being able to back myself and trust that my skill set is sufficient has been amazing”.

While the prospect of being a one-woman band scared her at first, Gabi has turned the feeling around: “My favourite part about my current role is the responsibility and the freedom that I have to make the legal function what I want it to be”. 

The “creativity to take charge” that comes with being in a scale-up technology company has helped. Gabi says that if she suddenly wants to change the company’s contract management systems, update all its templates, or pretty much anything else, the business  is happy for her – and others – to take the initiative and make those decisions.

A special hobby?

Pardoning the pun, Gabi says, she is quite crafty and artsy. In her downtime, she enjoys knitting and crochet, painting and embroidery, reading and the movies. Combining all of that, she says her main hobby at the moment is integrating into her new city in as many artistic ways as possible. For example, she is soaking in the benefits of the Netherlands’ museum card pass, which allows her to go to all of the country’s museums for free.

A cool thing you’ve seen in legal?

The integration of artificial intelligence takes the winning spot for Gabi., She admits that she is a “huge fan” of software such as Chat GPT as a “massive” time saver for people like her, who are the sole lawyers in their companies. She adds that it can be very helpful for simple tasks such as checking templates, writing letters, figuring out the arguments for and against a contract, or even helping prepare for training sessions.  

“I think it’s a mistake if you’re scared of it and not utilising it,” Gabi emphasised.

“You kind of have to get on board, otherwise, you’re gonna be left behind”. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

“Don’t be limited by the boundaries that the legal industry puts on us. If you have a dream to work in a different city and in a different industry, just back yourself. You can do it,” Gabi says, in an encapsulation of her approach. 

She says young lawyers shouldn’t be buried by the expectations that the wider industry puts on them. Especially when they’re told that qualifying in one jurisdiction means they’ll never be able to work in another. It wasn’t easy for her. The move required determination and patience, but Gabi says that things come together with enough hard work and ambition.