- How did the crisis affect your business and customer relations? Is there any consolidation with market peers in your segment?
- Of course, given that personal meetings were restricted during the entire period, the tools for personal contact with clients were quite limited as well. Thus, our project Arzinger Women Club, which gathered many of our clients before the pandemic and gave us a platform for informal communication, was put on hold. The impossibility of foreign business trips has limited our personal contacts with foreign clients and partners.
However, the situation being similar everywhere and for everyone, and restrictions on personal contacts being perceived "with understanding", I would not say that it has somehow affected our business. This year, including the quarantine period, has been abundant in projects from current and new clients – we can surely call it a success.
- What is happening in the legal market now and what are the main trends for 2021?
- The legal market has been changing dynamically, depending on the developments and trends in other markets where our clients operate. The work of lawyers is highly dependent on how other sectors of the economy feel. During a crisis, transactional practices usually freeze, but the so-called "problematics" come to the fore: courts, arbitration, bankruptcy, restructuring, criminal proceedings, etc.
Considering that Arzinger is a so-called 'full-service law firm', i.e. we have all the practices needed to support our clients – both those that work well in 'peacetime' (consulting and M&A) as well as those that work with 'problematics'. Accordingly, our risks are fully diversified, and there are practices actively loaded with work at any time. As for the rest of the market, I would like to say that, along with large companies with a good reputation, the market is unfortunately full of law firms that work through corruption rather than in the legal field. We do not see them as lawyers at all, but rather as 'couriers'. Nevertheless, the crisis times in the economy push many clients to order 'services' from such 'bribe deliverers' rather than spend time and effort to form and defend their position.
It is noteworthy though that more and more of these clients, who were tempted by the services of such would-be lawyers, revert to us, but with much bigger problems. The 'simple and guaranteed' path has become rather a short-term one and, oddly enough, not guaranteed in this country. Frequent changes in politics and government offices as well as fraudsters with law licenses increasingly lead such clients to completely different outcomes than originally promised. Moreover, many clients soon realize that by agreeing to that method once, they soon become real 'cash cows', which are passed 'from hand to hand' by various regulatory authorities, often not without the help of 'courier lawyers' themselves.
- How much harder / easier has it become to maintain your position in the market?
- It has never been difficult for me to achieve and maintain positions in the market. I just do not think about positions. My colleagues and I are perfectionists and constantly strive for development. I would even say, we have a thirst for development. This is our firm's unspoken motto. Only people with this approach can fully integrate into the Arzinger team. Therefore, we just keep doing our job well, looking for and finding new areas and opportunities, and this naturally brings us to where we are.
- What is the most non-standard project you have had?
- To be honest, Arzinger is rather pricy, so we are often approached with non-standard tasks. For instance, counteraction to raiding is among the most intricate ones. It is complicated due to the fact that, unlike raiders, we do not bring multimillion-dollar bribes to courts and other authorities but win and 'beat off' attacks on our clients in the legal field, by our high-quality work, good professional contacts in almost all necessary structures, reputation, and speed.
Also, the category of the most complex projects includes protection of foreign investors: we negotiate, and if necessary, sue the State if we believe that the truth is on the investor's side.
Here I can also mention our GR (government relations) projects – we can already issue a whole collection of reforms, laws, and government acts that we have directly developed from inception to text and promoted (with the help of our partners) for their successful adoption. Such projects are rather difficult, because we should first convince the main politicians and functionaries that the idea is correct, find a balance of interests, answer all professional and non-professional questions and, in a difficult political situation, do everything to ensure that such initiatives are prioritized and implemented.
- What new products do you offer to the market? How do they appear?
- Most often, we proceed from the needs of the market, monitoring the developments that are prerequisites for our work. We conduct serious analytics of our regular products, based on which we prepare our marketing activities.
But we also often shape the needs of the market. Thus, many years ago we founded our Compliance practice from scratch. At that time, most of our clients did not even know what the word meant. We invested in the development of anti-corruption legislation, compliance approaches for our clients, training them accordingly. To date, this is one of the firm's most successful practices (we conduct anti-corruption investigations, do compliance audits, build internal systems to protect clients from fraud and corruption risks).
- Everyone knows about Ukrainian IT specialists, but how do Ukrainian lawyers feel in the international arena?
- Arzinger is one of the most recognizable Ukrainian law firms abroad. We invest a lot of time and effort so that we and Ukraine, in general, are well known in the international arena. I would even say that most of our efforts are aimed at popularizing the country rather than specifically our brand. Unfortunately, the necessary resources are not invested at the state level to develop a positive image of Ukraine. As a result, very few positive things are known about Ukrain, but the country is widely known for its negative events and reputation. The reputation factor greatly hinders the development of the legal business as well as of other sectors of its economy. Therefore, we do struggle with all-out might.
- What rules of life help you to develop?
- Sincerity, professionalism, openness, quick decision-making, and instant implementation of decisions. But the most important thing that helps me to be successful in business is love. Love for your work, for people, for your profession, for your country. I love what surrounds me, and I equally try to improve everything all the time. This is what I get aesthetic pleasure from.
- The whole world is fighting for better service, how much attention do you pay to this issue?
- As much as I can. I always focus on how I would like to be served in such delicate matters as legal ones. The work of a lawyer can often be compared to that of a doctor. Lawyers also have to deal with human problems, and a lawyer's mistake can cost people as much as medical malpractice. We are often trusted with the most intimate matters. People often see us as nearly the last resort for solving their vital problems. Therefore, the skills of a psychologist are very important to successfully practice law. The speed and quality of response are of key importance. The client should feel that the lawyer is imbued with the task, is focused on the result, and perceives such a task as her or his own. This is what I tell all my colleagues. I am glad that we have already formed and sustained a corporate standard of work with a client.