Legal Market

Active lifestyle

For most leading players on the legal services market, the year was very active in terms of both work for clients, and in the direction of internal transformation and development of expertise. Consolidation of resources creates a good reserve to get through 2019 without incurring losses. Trends in the economy as a whole are favorable, but the constraining influence of scheduled elections will inevitably be significant.


For the legal services market, 2018 passed under the sign of mergers. AVELLUM and AGA Partners joined forces. This was followed by an even more high-profile event — Asters and EPAP Ukraine, two firms, without exaggeration, significant for the Ukrainian legal market, announced they were merging. The merger of Integrites and Pravochin picked up the baton... An example of the contrary can serve the processes in Spenser & Kauffmann Law Firm, the outcome of which was the appearance of a new brand on the market — ADER HABER, as well as a division of Marchenko Danevych Law Firm.

According to experts, the trend towards consolidation will continue. Denis Bugay, partner at VB PARTNERS, talks about this, in particular. "I think large companies will become even larger, and medium-sized companies will be forced to leave the distance. For them, the choice is simple: either join large ones, or become highly-effective boutiques. This boutique strategy enables significant savings of resources, time, marketing, PR and office costs to be made. However, wages above the market rate must be paid. The specialized company makes greater requirements of a lawyer", Mr. Bugay commented.


Influencing factors 

"The legal market depends greatly on the general state of the country’s economy. The relative stability experienced in 2018 had a positive impact on the growth of demand for legal services in all major sectors. However, this growth was not even. Transactional practices were busier, especially due to the activity of investors in the fields of alternative energy, agriculture and IT. Dispute resolution practices, as usual, did not stand idle either in terms of arbitration or in terms of local litigations and criminal proceedings. A positive trend in increasing the legal awareness of local clients has become evident. We are traditionally addressed by clients for whom corrupt methods of achieving results are unacceptable. We are pleased that the demand for such services is growing. At the same time, the market remains highly competitive and forces law firms to compete for each client," Vladimir Sayenko,  partner at Sayenko Kharenko, comments.

"The legal services market in Ukraine is being constantly transformed due to various factors, namely: market globalization through the merger of firms, outsourcing, technological advances. In order to ensure long-term success in a changing market, the traditional business model of a law firm requires the firm to be modernized and ready for transformational changes. Today, law firms face two challenges: the automation of processes and the evolution of the market, where customers require better services at a lower cost. Therefore, we can confidently say that the key principles of a firm’s successful functioning are its reliability, trust and customer loyalty, which contribute to sustainable long-term relations", Sergey Oberkovich, senior partner at GOLAW, noted.

"The owners of law firms are already feeling competition more acutely, that's why they consolidate, increasing their market share, or stand out, thereby monopolizing the niche segments of the market," Tatiana Gavrish, managing partner at ILF Law Firm, emphasizes. And talking about the popular NewLaw philosophy, she stresses  that the global trend is the desire of clients to receive legal services faster and cheaper. "ILF's rebranding (we officially transformed our mission and philosophy clear to lawyers in January) was launched by a number of internal transformations, thereby affecting project management, automation of sales and lead generation processes, team management, partner model, etc. And this is only the beginning of the movement towards NewLaw. These are the market’s requirements, the requirements of our customers and those who we want to see our customers," Mrs. Gavrish commented.

Denis Bugay notes another trend — the lack of leadership. "I don't see any evidence of leadership on the part of partners of the new generation. I do not see the desire of young partners to 'elbow their way’ and take leadership positions both in their firms and in the legal community," Mr. Bugay explains.

"The market and practices are more or less stable. I have not noticed any actions or events that could be qualified as significantly changing working conditions in the market. Nevertheless, there have been certain events that have already had, or are potentially capable of having, an effect on the state of the general market, both objective and subjective.

Among the objective events, I will highlight the coming into force of new procedural codes. They essentially introduce a monopoly of attorneys on representation in courts. From the beginning of next year, this requirement will apply to courts of the first instance. This encourages legal practitioners to adjust their market status and the way in which they conduct their professional activities in accordance with their content. In other words, it became obvious that persons providing professional legal assistance services could not carry out their activities in a form inherent to seed traders on the market.

This problem has many other components and nuances. Current Ukrainian legislation has not yet answered many questions (for example, taxation of advocacy, especially VAT, expanding the powers of attorneys to provide other exclusive types of legal assistance, for example, professional activities of patent attorneys, etc.). Certainly, such issues are already being included on the agenda, because if they are not properly resolved the legal profession will suffer.

As for subjective factors, I cannot but help to recall several high-profile events that led to redistribution of market players. First of all, the merger of Asters with EPAP Ukraine and AVELLUM with AGA Partners, as well as several high-profile transitions of well-known practitioners," Oleksandr Martynenko, senior partner at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, says, sharing his observations.

Oleg Malinevsky, partner at EQUITY notes, when talking about the development of the Ukrainian market, that in the short term the market will largely retain existing trends in terms of both demand for practices and the structure of leaders. "It is possible that the trend for mergers between top-tier teams will continue, which also does not exclude the emergence of new local teams. The arrival of new players from outside is less likely. In the context of specializations, it is possible to predict the strengthening of trends to a boutique nature of small firms and development of new practices by large market generalists," Mr. Malinevsky predicts.


Personal accounting

The year was also productive with regard to personnel changes in the legal market. Asters should be recognized as the absolute leader here. In addition to the already mentioned merger with EPAP Ukraine, the firm was remembered for the promotion of Yaroslav Petrov to the status of partner specializing in energy and international arbitration. Aleksandr Onufrienko and Yurii Kotlyarov also joined the partnership at the start of the year. In November, Oleksii Reznikov became a partner of Asters. In 2014, Mr. Reznikov suspended his legal practice during his public tenure as Secretary of Kyiv City Council and Deputy Chairman of Kyiv City State Administration. As the partner at Asters, he will specialize in alternative dispute resolution, including the issue of expert opinions, negotiations, facilitation, conciliation, mediation, establishment of facts, preliminary independent assessment, pre-trial dispute resolution meetings and preparation of settlement agreements.

Sayenko Kharenko Law Firm announced the promotion of five lawyers to partner status. Anton Korobeynikov (banking and financial law, capital markets), Aleksandr Nikolaychik (corporate law and M&A), Olexander Druug (international arbitration), Anzhela Makhinova (international trade) and Alina Plyushch (private capital management) became partners of the firm. Svitlana Musienko, a well-known tax specialist, also joined the firm. At the same time, a number of partners at Sayenko Kharenko changed the sphere of activities in favor of the public sector. For example, Serhiy Verlanov was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine, and Tatyana Slipachuk was elected as a member of the Central Election Commission and headed it.

Olga Demyanyuk was upgraded to partner status at the Kyiv office of Baker McKenzie International Law Firm. In her new position, she continues to develop the health care and pharmacy practice.

Serhiy Shklyar, a founding partner at Arzinger, who worked for three years as Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine for the Executive Service, returned to practice.

This year Aequo Law Firm announced promotion to the status of advisors of Myroslava Savchuk, Yevhen Levitsky, Bohdan Dmukhovsky and Mykhaylo Lukashenko. In addition, the firm strengthened its dispute resolution and IT practices with Olena Pertsova and Mykyta Polatayko, respectively.

Yuriy Nechaev became a partner of AVELLUM Law Firm, and Taras Dmukhovsky and Maksim Maksimenko were promoted to advisors.

The meeting of partners at Vasil Kisil and Partners Law Firm decided to include as partners Volodymyr Ihonin, Oleh Kachmar, and Anna Sisetskaya as advisors of the firm. Volodymyr Ihonin heads the corporate law/merger and acquisition practice, Oleh Kachmar is in charge of the dispute resolution practice in real estate and construction, land disputes, as well as insurance and loan disputes. Anna Sisetska heads the firm's antimonopoly law practice and specializes in project and trade financing.

EQUITY has strengthened its position in criminal law practice. Well-known lawyers Yaroslav Zeikan and Oleksandr Lysak joined the firm.

Tatiana Dovgan was appointed as an advisor at the Kyiv office of CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang International Law Firm. Mrs. Dovgan will continue to coordinate and develop corporate law/M&A practice in her new role.

Changes also took place in the management of Evris Law Firm, as Ihor Kravtsov took the position of managing partner.

Reports surfaced in late March about the move by Natalya Ulyanova and the team of lawyers from ICF Legal Service to Deloitte, where a new practice was created called comprehensive business transformation.

The young firm of EVERLEGAL is remembered for its inclusion of a new partner, Vsevolod Volkov, who moved from Integrites, as well as appearance on the legal services market in Kazakhstan in partnership with local lawyers.

Denis Ovcharov became a partner of Lavrynovych & Partners Law Firm. Prior to that, he developed the business protection practice at Juscutum.

Konnov & Sozanovsky Attorneys at Law reported that Ihor Baitsar, a well-known lawyer from Bukovyna, headed the office of Konnov and Sozanovsky in Chernivtsi. The representative office of the firm operates in the alliance with Lexter Law Firm.

Kinstellar International Law Firm announced the appointment of Olena Kuchinska as a partner, and Mykyta Nota as an advisor. Lyudmila Volkova, formerly a judge at the Kharkiv District Administrative Court and a member of the Council of Judges of Ukraine, also joined the firm as an advisor. The real estate practice at Kinstellar was headed by Oleh Matyusha.

ALEXANDROV & PARTNERS Law Firm showed an interesting initiative — the post of head was entrusted not to a partner, but to advisor Oleh Shevtsov.

As you can see, law firms have focused on strengthening the practices of their traditional specializations and increased expertise in the most dynamic and highly competitive practices. The greatest attention in 2019 will be on already united teams and the firms that will decide to take the same step.

Reputational Ranking of the Law Firms


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