LAW FIRM DIRECTORY

Legal Market

New year, new course

The positive trends that participants of the Ukrainian legal market are beginning to record suggest that transaction practices will be spread even with a slight improvement in the situation, and dispute settlement will reach a qualitatively new level. Already preparing for this, law firms are actively engaged in issues regarding their market positioning in general and strengthening expertise in individual practices.

OLEKSIY NASADYUK

The past year was quite an active one for law firms practicing in Ukraine. Along with provision of legal services, the professional community was active in supporting state processes, especially judicial reform. Practicing lawyers were able to try their hand in the competition for a new Supreme Court. The marathon was successful for nine of them; they became judges of the highest court. The manner in which the Supreme Court will operate is a key issue for many lawyers, and not just for them. Implementation of other announced reforms, as well as the state of affairs in the country in general are also on the agenda.

“The key challenge for lawyers and the whole of Ukraine is the pace of reforms and their success, because they directly affect the investment attractiveness of the country. When the prospects for domestic and external investors in Ukraine become more obvious, we can expect more significant economic growth and, as a consequence, the legal market,” – Oleksiy Didkovskiy, managing partner of Asters Law Firm, says in his comments.

 

PRACTICAL CONCERNS

When analyzing the current situation in the legal business, you can see that “systemic law firms” continue to hold the leading positions, preserving the balancing resource in the conditions of a turbulent market. “The majority of systemic law firms have more or less the same set of practices. Due to their versatility they are able to meet consumer expectations from rather different branches of the economy. Since the market is volatile, the profitability of practices varies along with it. The only question is the degree of volatility of a particular practice within a specific period of time. Due to their versatility the large law firms balance the internal fluctuations of practices and find a median thanks to which they exist and develop,” – Oleksandr Martynenko, senior partner of CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang International Law Firm, explains.

In some segments of practice, systemic law firms compete not only with each other, but also with high-class boutique law firms. Besides, the latter, especially those specializing in dispute settlement, display quite dynamic development. Moreover, individual judicial teams have obviously outgrown the scope of boutique law firms: the number of cases they undertake, profitability and staff of lawyers have already exceeded the corresponding indicators of many law firms traditionally positioned as universal. The most common and profitable was expected to be the practice of dispute settlement. The results of corporate law and taxation practices were quite good taking into account the current market situation. Positive trends are recorded in banking and financial practices. Serhiy Chorny, managing partner of the Kyiv office of Baker McKenzie International Law Firm, says that the nature of appeals varies: “The share of debt restructuring is reduced, but new issues are being prepared on the capital market. There are requests for securitization of financial assets that we have lacked for years.” The activity of state bodies once again drove up the demand for services in the field of criminal and legal protection of business.

 

TEAM REFORMATTING

The consolidation of law firms in Ukraine is an exceptional event. More often you can hear about the reverse allocation of lawyers and creation of new brands. At the end of the year the legal market learned about the consolidation of two well-known law firms, Alekseev, Boyarchukov & Partners and Trusted Advisors. It appears that one of the catalysts for this decision was the appointment of Ivan Mishchenko, one of the partners of Trusted Advisors Law Firm, as a judge of the Supreme Court. The consolidated team will be represented on the market under the brand of Alekseev, Boyarchukov & Partners. The consolidation was accompanied by the promotion of three lawyers from Alekseev, Boyarchukov and Partners to the status of partners, that is, the partnership currently consists of the following six persons: Serhiy Boyarchukov, Artem Podolsky, Maksym Boyarchukov, Vladyslav Novakovsky, Vladyslav Reznikov and Oleksandr Tkachuk.

The appointment of Elena Kibenko as a judge of the Supreme Court resulted in the rebranding and complete reformatting of the Kharkiv-based Kibenko, Onika & Partners Law Firm. The founders and named partners, Elena Kibenko and Yaroslava Onika, ceased their legal practice and withdrew from the firm, and so the firm changed its name to COPARTNERS. Maksym Hura, who led the consulting practice of the firm, and Oleksandr Radutny, lawyer and head of the court practice, became the new partners at the firm. Maria Rolik was elected  Director.

Among notable rebrandings it is worth noting the appearance of a new brand called EQUITY on Ukraine’s legal market. The team of FCLEX Law Firm has been operating under this name since 13 June, 2017. And another new brand, Evris, formerly known as N&D Law Firm, was introduced in September.

 

STAFFING SITUATION

Analyzing the situation with staffing on the legal market, Maksym Lavrynovych, managing partner of Lavrynovych & Partners Law Firm, draws attention to the fact that there has been a glut on the market of legal personnel with specialists for several years. “Ukrainian universities annually produce thousands of lawyers who start competing with more experienced colleagues. However, despite the large number of lawyers, the search for competent employees for a law firm that cooperates with large international and Ukrainian businesses remains a challenge,” Maksym Lavrynovych says. He believes that the complexity is not just in the lack of experience of graduates (in Ukraine many young people are interested in career development; so, they begin to work while studying at university). The problem is in Ukrainian higher education which, unfortunately, is very conservative and does not provide students with the practical knowledge necessary for a modern lawyer. “Being already in business, young lawyers have to understand business processes and specifics of activities of various branches of the economy. This is the weak side of education at Ukrainian universities, which is usually compensated by lawyers due to attendance of professional development  courses, training and, of course, obtaining skills while working on a project together with more experienced colleagues,” the managing partner of Lavrynovych & Partners Law Firm said.

 

PERSONAL ACCOUNTING

There was sufficient activity in personnel matters on the legal market in 2017: transitions and motivation of lawyers. Integrites International Law Firm remains one of the most notable players on the personnel market. In 2017 it announced the strengthening of its dispute settlement practice. Thus, at the beginning of the year the firm introduced two new judicial teams organized in a STL format (Specialized Tactics Litigation). Oleksiy Sluch became a partner of the firm, and Volodymyr Pavlenko became a new counsel. They are the recognized experts in the field of dispute settlement. But autumn saw some changes: Oleksiy Sluch left the legal service business for in-house, and Volodymyr Pavlenko became a partner of Integrites International Law Firm and headed the litigation practice. The new advisor, Andriy Gaychenko, also joined the team. Svyatoslav Sheremeta, one of the partners at Integrites International Law Firm, joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, where he took the position of expert in corporate management.

This past year saw noticeable activity at PwC Legal Ukraine. Thus, Dmytro Donets became a partner of the association and headed the dispute settlement practice. He previously worked in tax consulting for more than ten years, headed the Department of Administrative Appeal and Litigation Support of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine for the last two years, and prior to that he worked at DLA Piper Ukraine International Law Firm as a senior lawyer in the tax practice for seven years. Olga Romanenko, as head of the practice of intellectual property, IT and personal data protection, and Oleksandr Pshenishnyuk, as head of the pharmaceutical and healthcare practice, also joined the team of PwC Legal JSC. The firm was also noted at international level: Andriy Pronchenko, the managing partner of PwC Legal in Ukraine, was elected a leader of PwC legal services in Eastern Europe. In particular, he will manage the development and growth of PwC legal services in Ukraine and the Caucasus region (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia), as well as in Russia and Eurasia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan).

Vasil Kisil & Partners Law Firm made an announcement in the past year about Vitaliy Kasko joining the partnership as head of the criminal law practice. Since 2004, Mr. Kasko has been a consultant of the Council of Europe and other international organizations in the field of criminal justice and defense of human rights. Since September 2016 he has been a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP), and since April 2016 – a member of the Board of Transparency International Ukraine. He has been a member of the Constitutional Commission since 2015. Until February 2016, Vitaliy Kasko held the post of Deputy Prosecutor- General of Ukraine.

Artem Drozdov became a new partner at AVER LEX JSC. His professional experience includes a career both in law-enforcement agencies and in legal profession. He specializes in protecting the owners and top managers of business, as well as their employees in economic and business crimes.

Antika Law Firm announced the appointment of cousel Serhiy Kornienko and senior lawyer Maksym Korchagin as partners of the firm from January 2017. Mr. Korniyenko is a recognized expert in corporate law, antitrust legislation, subsoil use, real estate and construction. Maksym Korchagin specializes in settlement of judicial and arbitration disputes.

Dmytro Shemelin joined Asters Law Firm as an counsel in the dispute settlement practice. He has over ten years of experience in the field of international dispute settlement, including international investment and commercial arbitration under all basic arbitration rules, as well as judicial proceedings abroad.

Among the staffing news of DLA Piper Ukraine, it is worth noting the appointment of Ilya Sverdlov to the position of head of tax practice in the Kyiv office of DLA Piper. He took over the functions as head from Svitlana Musiyenko, who decided to take a temporary career break. Legal director Alla Kozachenko was appointed head of the corporate and M&A practice of DLA Piper in Ukraine.

Jeantet International Law Firm announced the appointment of Igor Krasovsky and Ilya Tkachuk as partners at the Kyiv office. Igor Krasovsky heads the banking and finance law practice, and Ilya Tkachuk specializes in corporate law and mergers and acquisitions.

Timofey Sikorsky and Eduard Tregubov became partners of Salkom Law Firm. The main activity of Mr. Sikorsky is to support real estate transactions (including the resolution of issues related to land, construction and investments), contract law and prosecution. Mr. Tregubov specializes in antitrust and contract law, international commercial arbitration, representation in the European Court of Human Rights and intellectual property rights.

Attorney Zlata Symonenko, who specializes in criminal law, business protection and client representation at the European Court of Human Rights, joined the partnership of Solodko & Partners Attorneys at Law.

As we can see, law firms are focused on strengthening the practices of their traditional specialization, as well as enlisting the most dynamic specialists with high potential and, as a result, forming highly competitive practices. By the end of 2018 we will be able to judge whether this turned into a competitive advantage and how the market configuration will be changed.

Reputational Ranking of the Law Firms

RANK

 

LAW FIRM

 

MARK

 

1

 

ASTERS

 

756

 

2

 

SAYENKO KHARENKO

 

611

 

3

 

BAKER MCKENZIE

 

502

 

4

 

VASIL KISIL & PARTNERS

 

479

 

5

 

AEQUO

 

366

 

6

 

GOLAW

 

230

 

7

 

CMS CAMERON MCKENNA

 

182

 

8

 

ILYASHEV & PARTNERS

 

164

 

9

 

AVELLUM

 

148

 

10

 

ARZINGER

 

145