How to create business between crisis and war Ernest Gramatskiy, President of Gramatskiy & Partners Law Firm, explained the reason why a lawyer needs to know about market trends and understand brand power
- For a second decade now Law Departments retain their popularity among students. Why are experts in the field of law in such demand on the job market, and not just in jurisprudence?
- Law is the queen of the sciences. If Carl Gauss were to give preference to the law school, paraphrasing a famous aphorism about mathematics, he could make it into history reaffirming the supremacy of legal science over all other branches of knowledge. Contrary to the choice of the "king of mathematics", as Gauss is called, the validity of such approval confirms the Ukrainian and world statistics of the qualifications of successful business leaders, politicians and heads of states.
The United States of America are considered to be a country of almost unlimited career opportunities for graduates of law departments and law schools. Indeed, 30 of the 45 leaders of the free world started their political career from law departments. In all fairness it should be noted that they have achieved success in the political arena, not in a legal career.
Migration out of the profession is certainly not limited to the respectable American legal services market. Despite the fees and high prestige of the profession, supported by American cinema, able to communicate the benefits and social significance of a legal career in the most inaccessible corners of the planet, lawyers for various reasons choose other prospects, and only the best of them continue to serve the law and protect the law.
- Year on year a new generation of lawyers come to the profession. Many of them have the opportunity to study and work as interns abroad, it has become easier and faster to obtain the necessary professional information; and this has become the norm. How quickly will the new legal culture change the Ukrainian market?
- Year on year, when meeting new graduates of law I mentally compare the standards and requirements of the profession with those in the time when I received my degree. Standard algorithms, precedents intended to simplify and improve the efficiency of a lawyer’s work in fact get rid of the main thing — the desire to be the best even in minor issues. This is one of the tests of allegiance to the profession, and one must take it every day despite the development of technologies.
This does not mean at all that it is necessary to cancel progress, but one needs to figure out how to keep the next generation of lawyers from intellectual idleness. As the poet put it: "Don’t ever let your soul be idle! To not mill wind and be in slight, the soul must work both day and night". That is how I define for myself the professional tasks of both a lawyer and a teacher.
I am convinced that everyone who is involved in the mentoring and teaching process considers his/her greatest achievement when students surpass their teacher. And I am no exception. It is important that this Pay it Forward race is not discontinued. The simple and beautiful idea of how to make the world around us better was in the power of a teenager from the eponymously-named movie ("Pay It Forward", 2000), therefore, nothing is impossible for a person with faith in the supremacy of law and a lawyer’s degree.
- Returning to the Ukrainian legal market, please tell us what challenges 2016 brought, and what will be the market driver in 2017.
- The Ukrainian legal services market, like the majority of business segments and sectors of the domestic economy, is in no hurry to get out of the "shadow" against the background of the great demand in society for transparency and publicity. In many respects non-transparency is the consequence of a complex atomized structure: if compared with the behemoths, the segment of individual lawyers, namely those lawyers who practice in a private capacity are not thoroughly monitored. It is difficult to imagine such an analytical tool with the assistance it was possible to assess the scope of the segment objectively. And if experts find it difficult to objectively feel confident in the ever-changing landscape of the domestic legal services market, then the client has either the intuitive choice or the strategy of an "attractive offer". Practice shows that price dumping revives competition considerably, but only until the first red flags, and then those who like to optimize budgets recall the phrase: "If you think competence is expensive, try incompetence".
"If there were no rankings, they should have been invented", the paraphrase of Voltaire’s popular quote, does not simply reflect the desire of one company to beat competitors and colleagues in a "league table". Within 25 years of formation of the national legal services market the tool for its rating has become prestigious and reputational and it has become very inconvenient to "ignore" it. In the space of more than two decades a pool of clients who feel confident in professional ratings has been formed. They can not only evaluate the results, but intentionally monitor the indicators of the companies they are interested in every year.
Undoubtedly, the determining factor in the selection of a legal advisor in our changing realities will remain the price of the service for a long time, but gradually the reputation and recognition of the other players in the market will become a major driving force of evolution, which will stimulate healthy competition. After all, competitiveness is not a war between competitors; this is an incentive to become the best version of you, your business and team.
The topic of pricing, as well as that of mutual relationships, is eternal. I once illustrated the view on the choice of legal advisor with the help of the above-mentioned phrase. It was in 2014 when the professional community was puzzled by the stagnation and it seemed to everyone that very soon the globalization of markets would be replaced by the globalization of law. But the feature of almost all forecasts, namely to rarely come true, is well known not only to lawyers. And the next two years have been a serious test for the network legal service business in Ukraine.
Domestic law companies not only got a chance to strengthen their positions on the market; the distinctive mark of time has become the emergence of law start-ups for the past two years. As a rule, these are highly-specialized companies confirming another growing trend of the market — the interest of clients in highly-specialized industry expertise.
The next most common trend on the market is legal universality. In the context of permanent crises within the past 20 years, the Ukrainian lawyer has become a universal soldier, who not only provides comprehensive advice in the field of law, but also handles knowledge in the field of economics and finance to a professional level. Currently, the lawyer combines legal advice with the functions of an investment banker, risk manager, and financial advisor, and only an accident can affect the list of professional reincarnations.
- Have all law firms taken advantage of these opportunities?
- There is no doubt that in such circumstances those who have built an effective team able to learn quickly and monetize their expertise will be the winners. . It is for this very reason that the most expensive capital, especially during the years of the market establishment, remains human assets. Today, price competition has shifted to the competition for talent: the market is determined by the candidate who chooses the employer's brand. Frequently, this is the path of reciprocal concessions, as in order to be strong in the conditions of crisis one needs to understand as clearly as possible how the demand for legal services will change tomorrow and to get this knowledge to the partners, the team and, of course, the client.
At first sight this principle seems strange. In essence it is the client who should create demand on the market. However, unfortunately or fortunately, the times of priority position held by expert opinion have passed and it was replaced by legal business consulting. Today, in order to compete for a client it is necessary not only to understand the intricacies of the client's business, but also to anticipate scenarios of development and asset diversification.