Impulse for the future
"The market’s future lies in single-discipline specialists consolidated in teams provided with advanced information technologies and strengthened by auxiliary personnel"IHOR BAITSAR, HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF KONNOV & SOZANOVSKY IN CHERNIVTSI, BELIEVES
— What are the peculiar features of Bukovyna’s legal market?
— The regional legal services market looks nothing like the Kyiv market and has a number of special features. Firstly, the main legal services consumer in the region is the population, not the business sector. The business client segment is substantially smaller. Therefore, the services on offer in the area of civil, criminal and recently administrative law are the most requested.
In terms of territory, the legal services market of Bukovyna is concentrated in the city of Chernivtsi, where almost all the region’s legal potential is located. The legal market in every district center is represented by just a handful of attorneys, which almost completely satisfy the need for legal services for residents.
The main players on the regional legal market are specialists practicing individually. The number of known law firms and attorney associations is comparatively low. This dictates a personalized approach on the part of clients to the selection of advisors. Known and highly-reputed specialists are preferred. Consumers of legal services are very scrupulous about such a selection. First of all, they rely on recommendations from their friends, whose problems were really solved by a certain attorney. So, word-of-mouth referrals definitely help to bring victory in our region between the various types of legal marketing.
On the other hand, the market is very saturated. About 500 attorneys, practicing lawyers and law firms offer their legal services in the regional center with population of just over 260,000 people. This creates significant competition.
— Proximity to the Western border influences many areas, including the regional legal services market. What business peculiarities would you emphasize first and foremost?
— The geographical location of the region has definitely facilitated establishment of close ties with neighboring European countries. These relations cover both the business area and the private lives of the population in the region.
Due to the specifics of our region, business with foreign partners is primarily focused on trade and less on production industries. In view of this there is demand on the legal services market for support of international contracts and legal assistance in issues related to customs procedures, but this demand is relatively small.
Labor migration to European Union countries and other countries is a particular trait Western Ukraine in general and Bukovyna in particular. The long time and en masse levels of such migration have led to significant social changes in the region. Many of our fellow countrymen have obtained residence permits, work permits, even citizenship of European Union countries, started families with foreigners and developed businesses. Many of them have relatives, real estate and business partners in Ukraine. Therefore, those legal services aimed at solving the problems of this category of the population in the region are in demand.
Despite the proximity of the border and presence of close economic ties with countries of the European Union, the main investor of the region is not the business, but the population, which invests money, earned by hard work abroad, in real estate and development of own small business here, in their homeland, with a truly Western Ukrainian mentality of ownership. Unfortunately, at the present time small business in general ignores the importance of proper legal support, but in the near future demand for the legal services from this market segment will definitely increase.
— Have the demands made by clients changed? What legal assistance do they need most often?
— Each area of law has its own features. The demands of clients in the area of civil law are almost the same, since life continues on its usual path issues related to ownership, heritage, family ties and compensation for damages arise all the time and need to be solved. Loan and family disputes remain among the most requested areas in civil legal proceedings. The geographical feature of our region is increasingly introducing a foreign element to civil cases.
The demands of clients in the area of protection in criminal cases and administrative offence cases have remained almost the same.
The segment of administrative cases has expanded significantly in recent years. As to citizens, these are disputes with state institutions, local councils and officials, first of all, on issues of pension provision and social security. When it comes to the business sector, these are primarily disputes with supervisory and state authorities and appeals against penal sanctions.
In this year, we carried out work with agreements and contracts, incorporation documents, supported transactions and negotiations, provided services in the area of labor and tax law, provided legal protection from illegal actions on the part of supervisory agencies, appealed against these actions and decisions under administrative and judicial procedure in the area of legal support of business, which is traditional for our firm.
A recent trend saw an increase in requests by business for comprehensive legal services and outsourcing. We should also note a rise in the level of entrepreneurship and demand for registration of new companies.
Businessmen have learnt how to come to an agreement, therefore, the number of economic judicial disputes fell this year.
Entrepreneurs were forced to seriously protect themselves due to the recent wave of inspections by the State Labor Service with application of unreasonable penal sanctions capable of "killing" both small and medium businesses.
— What are, in your opinion, the immediate prospects for the regional legal services market?
— The legal services market is currently characterized by the establishment of new organizational structures: attorney associations and bureaus. This trend is fed by the attorney monopoly that was introduced recently.
In the near future a big slice of the legal services market will move from specialists practicing individually to attorney associations. As a result, companies with teams of attorneys will have a significant advantage.
The time is close when one man will not make a team on the legal front. It will be harder to work for attorneys to be universal specialists. Therefore, the market’s future lies in single-discipline specialists consolidated in teams provided with advanced information technologies and strengthened by auxiliary personnel. The very term ‘attorney association’ has potential for growth, development of attorneys and self-expression in the profession, as well as for choice to one’s personal liking and opportunities for niche specialization. A properly arranged team of single-discipline specialists in various areas of the law will be able to provide a wide range of services to clients at a very high level.
The business sector is increasingly realizing the importance of legal support understanding that corporate lawyers practicing within a limited framework of a firm's activities become exceedingly highly specialized and are not ready to provide qualitative solutions of even simple tasks beyond their own niche specialization. Therefore, the business sector will eventually come to require periodical involvement of single-discipline specialists in certain areas of the law for solving certain tasks or of long-term cooperation with attorney companies with specialists of various areas and practices among their staff. According to international practices, the future of legal support for business lies in outsourcing performed by companies that have teams of attorneys.
Attorney associations in our region are still being forming, but the future belongs to them.