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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: Russia
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For 28 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist (formerly the Corporate Counsel 100) is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Russia, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region ...read more
The GC Powerlist is a series of publications, highlighting the most influential in-house lawyers in business today.
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Russia, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each jurisdictional list. GC Powerlist: Russia features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from the law firms about how they feel individual corporate counsel have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Russia, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Russia or global), please do get in touch at email@example.com.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
|David Burgess||Boris Dechev|
GC Powerlist: Russia
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Head of Legal and audit
Kia Motors Corporation (Russia)
Megapolis Group JSC TC
Director of legal
Groupe Auchan SA
Sberbank Мerchant Banking
Senior lawyer and head of M&A
NPRO Ural LLC
Head of Legal Department
Pallada Asset Management CJSC
Head of Legal
Head of Legal
Agroinvest (Subsidiary of Black Earth Farming)
Head of Legal
Head of Legal
Trading House TSVUM OJSC
Head of Real Estate Legal
Volvo Group (Russia)
Legal Affairs Director (Pharmaceuticals, Russia and CIS)
Johnson & Johnson
Deputy General Director for Legal Services
Head of Legal
SMTDP Technology LLC
Head of Corporate Finance (Legal)
United Company RUSAL Plc
Head of Legal (Russia)
Head of Legal
Gazprom Neft-Sakhalin LLC
International Legal Counsel
Proxima Capital Group
Head of Legal
Management Company Tavros LLC
Legal & Corporate Affairs Director
SUN InBev, OJSC (Russia)
Regional Investment Company
Head of Legal and Compliance
Metro Cash & Carry LLC Russia
General Counsel Cluster Russia and Central Asia
Head of International Legal
Executive Vice Predisdent Legal & Corporate, Member of the Managing Board
ETK LLC (Eurasian Pipeline Consortium)
Head of Legal (Russia)
Head of Legal & Compliance (Russia)
Petrol Plus Region (subsidiary of Fleetcor Technologies Inc)
Head of Legal and Corporate
BEL Development LLC
Head of Legal (Russia)
Head of Legal
Capital Partners, Russia
Director of Legal Affairs
OMC Outsourcing Partner
Sapinda CIS LLC
Head of Legal
BTC Group JSC
Director of Legal
Export Insurance Agency of Russia (EXIAR)
Chief Legal Officer
Northern Capital Gateway LLC
Head of Legal
Bonum Capital LLC
Legal Director and CCO for Eurasian Zone
Head of Legal
Head of Legal
Head of a Legal Unit
Deputy CEO, Legal
Basic Element Group of Companies
Corporate Practice Director
International Grain Company
Deputy Head of Investment Projects Legal Supportof Legal
Leader Asset Management CJSC
Head of Legal
Russian Venture Company
Head of Legal
Head of Legal
GlavUpDK (entity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Head of Legal (Russia)
Atrium European Real Estate Ltd.
Legal Director (Russia & CIS)
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.
Head of Legal (Russia and CIS)
AGC Glass Europe
Head of Legal (Russia)
Head of Legal
Head of Legal
Member of the Management Board, Head of the Legal Affairs Unit
JSC Inter RAO UES
Senior Counsel/Legal Director (RMEA)
Vice President Intellectual Property
Yota Devices Ltd.
Head of Legal
Industria de Diseño Textil, S.A. (Inditex) (Russia)
Head of Legal
Gazprom Dobycha Urengoi
Head of Legal
Chief Legal Officer
SNS Group of Companies
Vice President Legal & Compliance (Russia)
Head of Legal
Exclases Holdings Ltd. (distributor of AgustaWestland Helicopters)
General Counsel/secretary to the Board
Head of Legal
Head of Legal Service for Strategic Planning
Head of Legal (Gas)
Head of Legal & Compliance (Russia)
Astellas Pharma Europe B.V.
Head of Legal Department
Bright Capital Group/Bright Capital Advisors
Head of Legal
Head of Corporate Centre, Deputy CEO
Don-Stroy Invest CJSC
Head of legal
Head of Legal, Management Board Member
ING Bank (Eurasia) CJSC
Moscow Exchange JSC
Managing Director (Legal Department, Capital Markets)
Sberbank of Russia
Group Legal Counsel
Head of Legal
SAP CIS and Baltic States LLC
Chief legal officer
Head of Legal
Chief Legal Officer
Lighting Technologies International Group
Legal & Corporate Affairs Director/management Board Member
Rosvodokanal Group of Companies
Head of Legal
CTC Network CJSC (CTC Media, Inc).
Deputy Head of Legal & Corporate/Head of Legal
Gazprom Energoholding LLC/Moscow United Energy Company
Group Legal Director
KEH eCommece LLC (operator of avito.ru)
Head of Legal
Vichiunai-Rus llc, Viciunai Group
General Counsel (Russia, Israel & CIS)
Eli Lilly and Company
Legal & HR Director
Alliance Healthcare (Russia)
Head of Legal (Russia)
Sony Electronics CJSC
Head of International Legal
Head of Legal
Sberbank Venture Capital
General Counsel( Deputy CEO for Legal Affairs)
Vice President on Legal Affairs
Moving in-house straight from Kazan State University, Artur Allaliev faced the challenge of setting up a legal team, which he led for three years. He has since built a successful career in the automotive industry, starting at a plant in a small city as a lawyer, and moving to head all legal support at the large holding company for a Russian market leader. Artur now heads a team of five lawyers and three auditors at leading international manufacturer, KIA Motors. Since he joined the company a year ago, he has made significant changes to the legal function’s structure; most notably bringing all KIA’s Russian operations, comprising 170 dealers and other partners, in line with anti-monopoly laws. Artur has also significantly improved dealer agreements, which regulates a wide spread of terms such as ‘vehicles and spare parts distribution, warranty and non-warranty repair, joint marketing activities, providing trademark rights, providing licenses and many other issues’. Artur appreciates the role he plays in developing KIA’s long term brand strategy and is proud to be part of a successful management team in a fast-growing organisation. ‘KIA has continuously been showing high results in the Russian market for the past decade and it’s a big responsibility to support it from a legal perspective’.
Aleksey Andronov heads the legal department at the leading Russian logistics and distribution company, Megapolis Group. One year into the role, Andrey has already managed to implement an effective legal structure with the highest level of competency and to increase the role that the legal department plays in the company; ‘all decisions now are to be agreed with the legal function’. When Aleksey joined Megapolis, he created new structure to make the legal function transparent at every phase of work for each subsidiary of the group. He also set up internal processes to drive efficiency, maintaining quality of work while lowering costs. ‘Nowadays, we have several subsidiaries being supported by only one lawyer. I am in the process of standardising work procedures by using templates for the legal team to increase the quality of work’. When working with outside counsel, Aleksey does not want to see overstaffing on deals, but would prefer ‘lean teams of highly skilled individuals’ who work seamlessly as part of his team. ‘The individuals need to be good technical lawyers, but more importantly, they have to understand our business and our strategic aims, and be able to propose realistic solutions to achieve those objectives’.
An exceptional lawyer with a strong professional reputation, Maksim Arefev has spent his entire legal career working in-house with ten of those years spent working in retail. Maksim has been supervising legal functions at the French international retail chain Auchan since 2013 and today manages a team of 43 lawyers. It comes as no surprise that Maksim has been able to hit the ground running immediately after joining the company. He successfully applied his knowledge and expertise from his previous role at real (the hypermarket member of Metro Group) to create and position a brand new legal structure and expand the team. Other notable achievements for Maksim at Auchan include the successful launch of a franchise contract for CIS and other countries, successful lobbying activities against worsening of trade law regulations and a four year antitrust case with Federal Anti-trust Service of Russia. Maksim likes that his role allows him to influence the strategy of development of the company, as it gives him the possibility to ‘participate actively in the creation of the rules of the retail and buying markets and to talk face to face with other professionals in the industry’.
Since joining Sberbank Merchant Banking from its inception in early 2011, Ruben Babayan has had the chance to work on a range of new projects. As part of a Russian state-owned bank, Ruben and his team face challenges virtually every day. In particular, Ruben has impressed with his presence in the highest courts in Russia while working on a major real estate development project, as well as working on a major project related to state debts restructuring. Ruben’s strategic vision of the legal department and efforts to optimise its work have paid off in improvements in operation. His changes to the communication channels (both internal and external) have resulted in more efficient work on projects. Ruben takes great pleasure in the opportunity to work in an organisation that is on top of the local market and advises law firms to be ‘result’ rather than ‘process and cost’ oriented.
As head of legal and M&A, Sergey Baksheev manages 12 legal employees across two separate plants at NPRO Ural, one of Russia’s leading mining businesses. Centralising the activities of legal departments at the separate mining plants, has allowed for more prompt addressing of emerging challenges, while reducing the costs of hiring professional lawyers (the company was unable to hire mid-level lawyers in production sites at the time). After several years at the company, Sergey is pleased with his role and relishes the opportunity to ‘work with new people, resolve new problems every day and work on intellectually stimulating tasks’. Under his supervision, he feels team members have improved their level of qualification internal and external training. Among several successful cases, Sergey’s personal highlight is his role in acquiring one of Russia’s oldest mining companies, OJSC VGOK. ‘This acquisition lasted eight months and has been a great experience for me’, he says.
During her career at Pallada Asset management, Julia Baru has acquired rich transactional experience. She has closed four acquisitions of non-state pension funds; completed a specialised depositary’s purchase; helped restructure a group of companies and transformed the group’s biggest non-state pension fund into a joint stock company. Julia describes her work purchasing one particular non-state pension fund as particularly challenging: ‘The seller was very difficult and our negotiations were very hard and lasted for 3 months, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week’. While she is happy to manage such interesting projects, Julia also takes delight in teaching her team and watching them mature as lawyers. This development is a two-way conversation however: ‘I enjoy that my role in the group gives me an opportunity to cooperate with very interesting and professional people so I can learn from them’. When Julia took the helm of the department in January 2014 it was still a work-in-process, presenting her with the challenge of establishing a fully functioning legal unit. As well as hiring team members, formulating processes and building a precedent, Julia has successfully established relationships across the wider business group.
After almost 10 years at Russia’s first online retailer, Ozon Group, Nadezhda Belova has built a well-organised, generalist legal department, where lawyers also have their own personal specialisms. Beginning as an assistant, Nadezhda worked her way up to legal head, developing a good understanding of business processes and shaping a strong team along the way. She is lauded for her work on corporate governance and M&A transactions, alongside her contribution to closing of two major fundraising initiatives. In the second fundraising, her team fought against negative economic factors in the market to bring it to a successful closure. Nazezhda is energised by e-commerce.‘It is rather new, very interesting for the lawyer and challenging, as internet-related issues are now getting popular even from the point of legislation’ she says. ‘There is always something to create, to learn, to explore’.
Natalya Blokhina is a brilliant lawyer that has impressed colleagues both in Russia and abroad with her ability to navigate complex real estate deals. Three transactions at Radius Group supported by Natalya from a legal point of view won awards at the Commercial Real Estate Awards: 2015 ‘Deal of the Year’ for the sale of the largest retail distribution centre in the history of the Russian Federation, 2014 ‘Deal of the Year’ for the lease of a national spare parts warehouse and 2013 ‘Deal of the Year’ for the lease of a medical devices factory and distribution center under a 14 year lease agreement. Natalya is also proud of her impressive accomplishment to develop a legal department at Radius Group and maintain a high level of legal expertise and effectiveness with a supportive and enjoyable culture. ‘The team members think and work as a team without internal competition as each member supports the others in the legal department in addition to other employees of Radius Group’. As a result of this team-centric approach, the legal department team has retained all of its staff since 2010. Due to the rapid growth of Radius Group in recent years, Natalya faces the challenge to often significantly change her style of management and make quick decisions. At the same time, Natalya has to manage legal risks without underestimating potential hazards for the company. She also feels that, interestingly, her company’s strong track record of diligence ‘creates challenges with helping other Radius Group departments understand the crucial risk management function that the legal department fulfils’. Natalya enjoys much more than just the pure legal work of her role, believing in strengthening the Legal department by creating an efficient and friendly community. ‘It is when employees are treated fairly, when they feel that they are valued and heard, when they are motivated being part of the team, when they are not micromanaged but could feel leadership from management that they can achieve their true potential’, she explains.
An ambitious and experienced lawyer, Stanislav Bobkov currently runs the legal department of leading European agriculture-industrial group Agroinvest. Having headed legal functions and worked for leading law firms since 1999, Stanislav combines solid experience across several practice areas, with exceptional organisational skills. Upon arrival at Agroinvest, Stanislav immediately used his strong managerial skills to significantly improve the workings of the legal department. He instigated a workforce reorganisation, cutting several positions in Moscow and creating new roles near the company’s Voronezh plants. To ensure sufficient depth of expertise, Stanislav adjusted the scopes of key people’s roles. He also changed reporting lines to encourage better management, communication and controls, and led the initiative to alter the company’s motivational system; introducing key performance indicators, year-end assessments and bonuses. As an in-house lawyer, Stanislav finds it rewarding to see the direct results of his own work. He emphasises the positive effects on Russia’s economy, of supporting agricultural production and facilitating foreign investments into Russia. ’We implement new technologies, create working places, pay taxes and deliver commodities (grain) to the global market, so I hope that I help to make my country and the whole world slightly better’.
UVZ-Logistic LLC, one of the largest operators of rail freight in Russia, has undergone a period of rapid growth in recent years. Since Natalia Bondareva joined the company, the staff of the Legal Department has increased from two to 14 lawyers. While developing the legal department, along with all corresponding processes and functions, practically ‘from scratch’, Natalia had to facilitate the fast expansion of the business and proactively adapt to the changing nature of the work done in the legal department. Natalia provides excellence in legal work due to her leadership and personal qualities, among others friendliness and good sense of humour.
Maria Breeva sees ‘her ability to negotiate’ as absolutely crucial to her professional victories. As head of legal at the TSVUM Trading House in Moscow, Maria almost always operates in an environment where she has limited availability of time and resources. Her ability to find the optimal and most profitable solution to a problem has allowed Marina to achieve her professional goals. Apart from building an effective system of communication in the legal department, she has also initiated the establishment of a unit that is engaged in daily monitoring of legal practices, while preparing summarised analysis and recommending changes for the standard terms of business agreements. As a major professional challenge in her career, Maria points out dealing with variations of interests between the legal department and other divisions within the company.
Maria Cardoso has made a substantial contribution to Decathlon’s expansion and development efforts in Russia. Upon joining the Moscow office in 2013, she was given the challenging task to structure Decathlon's real estate legal team. By taking a guiding role in the transformation of the department, Maria has been able to accomplish her aim in 18 months, much quicker than the expected three years. As part of the reorganisation, Maria recruited six of the now existing seven lawyers, integrated and trained them and developed all tools and templates according to Decathlon Group compliance rules. This new structuring was part of the country's business strategy to obtain autonomy from the group. Maria feels that achieving her objective within a short time frame has been of paramount importance, as ‘only after the team was in place it was possible to seriously start the Decathlon development in Russia’. In her role as head of real estate legal, Maria likes to apply the ‘keep it simple’ rule and feels that it is often ‘more important to get things successfully done than to be right. Often, I felt everybody was more concerned in discovering whose fault was it when something went wrong than finding creative solutions to finish a contract, draft a clause or put in place a project legal structure,’ Maria explains. ’I had to be constantly asking what was still preventing the agreement to be signed or the deal to be approved, as I was always discovering people fixed on details that were not that important’. Following this mantra, Maria proactively encourages her employees to find new solutions, make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions and never allows her team to come to her with a problem without giving a proposal of a potential solution first. With her substantial experience of dealing with difference in law, procedures and cultural background in both of her roles at Decathlon’s head office in Lille, France and in Russia, Maria gives meaningful advice to her colleagues: ‘don't be discouraged to introduce changes in different countries and never allow anybody to put you down by saying that ‘you don't understand our legal system’ because it's simply not true’.
As well as being an increasingly respectable voice in the in-house industry, Elena Chelembeeva is known for strong managerial qualities that have allowed her to keep efficient work during the organisation of the internal company at Volvo Group Russia. Her achievements as a leader centre on reshaping the mentality of her team. She has successfully implemented the idea that the legal counsel is, in fact, a ‘business partner’ to the internal customers. In her career at Volvo to date, Elena has been focusing on developing of managerial skills of legal staff in fields such as risk management and project management: ‘these skills help us have more efficient cooperation between the legal department and other functions within the group’. From a functional perspective, Elena has implemented a customer satisfaction survey among business colleagues and implemented discussion meetings with internal customers to improve communication and cooperation. The team has also started to issue legal Q&A for different business functions to be sure that their colleagues across the organisation have a better understanding of the legal environment of their business. In her current role at Volvo, Elena has had the chance to work on several impressive projects regarding the development and establishment of an industrial park in Kaluga. As challenging points in her career, Elena notes her work on business integration of Volvo and Renault during a time of an economic and political crisis in Russia, as well as her efforts to create a deep understanding with foreign legal colleagues regarding the Russian legal environment.
Irina Chernenko provides legal support to the pharma division at Johnson & Johnson in Russia and CIS, combining her duties as general cCounsel at the company with a seat on the board of directors. Irina’s enthusiasm to proactively ‘make decisions and help people develop and grow’ has allowed her to earn the trust of her co-workers, reflected by the fact that she is frequently asked for help and advice. To develop the legal department at Johnson & Johnson, Irina has had to allocate resources optimally to support the business and at the same time, develop the team by keeping her subordinates constantly challenged. ‘In my view, challenges presents a fantastic opportunity for growth. The most important thing is to have power and willingness to grow’. When working with outside counsel, apart from the expected high level of professionalism, Irina likes to see ‘involvement, creativity and the ability to listen and hear’.
Prior to joining Boinet, Daria worked in a highly specialised role at the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. After realising that the positon was not for her, without any relevant experience, Daria moved in-house, working in various commercial structures. Within four years she evolved from a junior lawyer to head of legal at Bionet, a Russian start-up project that was created in 2009 to build a factory that produces biofuel from timber waste in the town of Onega in Arhangelsk Oblast. Upon joining the company two years ago, Daria Chernyh was surprised to see the small role that was assigned to legal support in the development of the project, which is even reflected by her initial job title: ‘Legal Support Specialist’, as opposed to more common terminology. During her time in the role, the legal department with a corresponding workflow system was developed, resulting in the department taking a leading position in the company and its decision making. One year into the role, Daria was also entrusted with the functions of corporate secretary, which has provided her with an additional influence to develop the legal function.
Joining SMTDP Technology as its sole in-house counsel, Maria Chizhikova has since established a company-wide task force of lawyers and paralegals. Her development of a reliable legal infrastructure along the way has been imperative to the department’s successful operation. During her time at SMTDP Tech she has organised the work of the legal department, office management and document management at the company as well as connections with legal departments of partner and client companies. Though facilitating the legal department’s expedited growth has unsurprisingly presented a range of problems large and small, Maria feels that there are no challenges that can’t be resolved. ‘Sometimes it is necessary to simply look at the situation from a wider angle to find alternative ways of achieving specific goals that allow us to maintain a balance of all components of the business’, she says. This positive attitude to work has allowed Maria to establish a strong legal department that is recognised for its quality of service. She gains great satisfaction from supporting of SMTDP Tech’s business activities, whilst ‘seeing that the company is developing and becoming stronger’.
Her 16 years’ banking and finance experience have more than qualified Anna Danilova to lead the corporate finance legal function of the world’s largest aluminium company, Rusal. Since her promotion, after seven years in its legal function, Anna has impressed with both organisational improvements and transactional wins. Anna’s changes to its day-to-day running range from better business orientation and implementing an ‘approach-based’ understanding of deals, to timely responses to queries and tighter control over external legal spend. Anna contributed to an ambitious debt-restructuring project in 2009, and worked on subsequent refinancings in 2011 and 2014. She sees her business focus as vital to her success; helping her to protect Rusal’s interests, whilst insuring all national and international debt financing are viable. Anna enjoys the variety of her work, in its bespoke financial transactions. She also cherishes the close interaction with other departments, and her active role in assessing and approving processes.
Svetlana’s vast organisational experience and legal expertise allows her to successfully supervise legal processes at RBS Russia, whilst also covering a company secretarial position within the organisation. Her time at RBS is marked by impressive organisational improvements that have led to the department changing its focus to being a trusted advisor and partner of the business, where ‘each lawyer has a strong relationship with a relevant commercial area, which they support to better understand business products and processes and manage business expectations from legal on daily basis’. Still, Svetlana finds it somewhat challenging to draw the line between being a trusted legal advisor and a commercial partner. Despite the closer alignment with the business, she believes that legal should stay an independent adviser and not become a risk taker, as well as proactively encouraging members of her team to improve their ability to translate complex Russian legislation and regulation into ‘appropriate pieces of valuable information’. Among her biggest achievement at RBS, Svetlana highlights her proactive ‘leading and encouragement of constant development in the legal team’, as well as ‘good recognition and communication within RBS across EMEA and UK’ in the form of 'annual encouraging feedback’ and achieving ‘good professional relationship with external law firms’.
Gazprom Neft-Sakhalin is a 2012 start-up project that focused on the acquisition of key assets on the Russian continental shelf. Immediately after being appointed as head of legal at the organisation, Anastasia became responsible for the ‘birth’ of a functional legal department and has ‘tuned’ legal processes to achieve a high level of satisfaction and quality. Over the course of two and a half years, apart from having provided exceptional legal advice, Anastasia has actively systematised the functions of the department and has implemented annual plans to improve the quality of legal services and qualifications of lawyers. As a result of her direct involvement, the legal department at Gazprom Neft-Sakhalin has turned into an ‘efficient legal team’ that is fully integrated both in the project team and the larger legal department of the group Gazprom Neft.
Prior to starting his in-house career at NVision Group in 2013, Sergey Dmitriev has gathered around ten years of professional experience working for leading law firms across Germany and Russia. He joined Proxima Capital Group in March 2014, shortly after it was founded, and has had the chance to participate in the development of the legal department from the early days and contribute to the building of its reputation. Among other things, Sergey has been involved in developing Proxima’s internal legal processes and workflows, has contributed to building of good cooperation between legal and non-legal employees and has developed in-house templates for standard documents. Apart from his contributions to the legal department, Sergey is widely respected for his handling of a number of complex transactions, which were accomplished in-house with limited resources and within tight timeframes. Theserequired Sergey to collaborate closely with the company business and finance units and understand the needs and specifics of Proxima Capital Group. Sergey has found it challenging to adapt to working in-house, as his new role required ‘a lot of business sense and broad industrial, specific business and some financial knowledge’, but still enjoys the responsibility and variety of his work. ‘The most important thing for me is to see implication and effect of my decisions and advice, which directly affect business of our company. Close work with the business decision makers affects how I prepare any advice and requires me to undertake more complex considerations of all relevant factors and circumstances’.
Svetlana Doronina, head of legal at the Russian agro investment holding Tavros, has organised the work of a strong legal unit that is ‘capable of taking preventive measures to minimise business risks’. During her leadership tenure at the company, a team of professional lawyers has been hired that Svetlana describes as ‘experts with universal knowledge, who besides addressing issues relating to their core expertise, have learnt how to deal with legal issues that require mixed specialisation’. Svetlana and her team have supplied legal support to a large and challenging agricultural project in the Republic of Bashkortostan, from ‘the establishment of legal entities and supervision of construction’ to ‘commissioning and start-up for production activity of livestock’. During her work on this project Svetlana had to deal with unscrupulous contractors, engage with legal provision of contract cancellation, and make claims for bank guarantees and support lawsuits to recover money from guarantors. Svetlana has successfully tackled the greatest professional challenge in her career, namely the need to deal with untrustworthy contractors, due to a clearly built position and strategy from her side in terms of contracts, handling complaints and judiciary work.
A highly experienced lawyer, Oraz Durdyev heads the legal function of SUN InBev; the Russian arm of one of the world’s largest brewing companies, AB InBev. Before moving into the beverages industry, Oraz worked for Melnichuk Law Firm and later within the telecommunications sector. Managing a team of 12 legal and 13 non-legal staff, Oraz has broadened the department’s scope and has introduced a motivation scheme and engagement plan. He has led several key strategic projects for the business, while simultaneously grappling with the impact of sanctions and Russia’s economic crisis. Oraz loves the breadth and variety of his role, and enjoys using his drive and energy to make a meaningful contribution to his company.
Over the course of the last 20 years of his 31 year legal career, Igor Fishgalov has founded four unique legal departments. All of the legal departments managed by Igor were built on the principle of ‘specialisation’, aligning a certain field of competence to his employees. For example, Igor has always separated experts in litigation from people who enjoy contractual work believing that their isolation allows them to develop their speciality further; where possible Igor has always strived to divide his employees by a narrower specialisation. ‘There can be only one lawyer with a wide specialisation, and that is the head of legal’, says Igor. It should also be noted that all of the legal units managed by Igor have maintained his style and methods a long time after he moved on. In his professional career, Igor has stood out with his work to implement and launch Russia's first regional concession project: ‘the construction and operation of bridges over the River Kama and Bui River near the town of Kambarka on the road Izhevsk-Sarapul-Kambarka border of the Republic of Bashkortostan in the Udmurt Republic’. The significance of the project has not only been with the money generated, but also with the scale and novelty of the approach to Russian regions, which (with the exception of St. Petersburg) had no experience of such projects. During his long and impressive professional career, Igor has often encountered a certain negative perception of legal coming from business peers. He feels that lawyers are often viewed as either ‘blockers’ of business development, or ‘magicians’ that are expected to find impossible solutions to certain problems. In both cases, they are frequently kept away from certain developments until they turn into a serious problem.
‘I really love my job as head of legal at Metro Cash & Carry! I enjoy the balance between administrative and professional aspects of my work and that apart from being a manager, I also get to work as a lawyer. I enjoy working on international projects and implementing projects that have a positive influence on the Russian business environment, particularly in regulation and Competition Law’, says Elena Gabdulkhaeva. Elena is a highly knowledgeable legal professional who is widely respected for her expertise in competition law. Regardless of the rapid growth of her company in Russia and implementation of several new projects, Elena has been able to successfully organise the resources within the legal department to meet strategic objectives, while utilising a strategy to efficiently combine external resources with in-house work. In addition, Elena has expanded her department by realising the need to hire junior employees. ‘In my view, having a team of more junior workers can help in two ways. They provide assistance with administrative work and they help with inspections that our business often faces. As a result, they free up time for more senior employees to focus on the complex legal work.’ In the past five years, Elena has contributed to the unification and optimisation of business processes within the legal department, which on the one hand has allowed the legal team to save cost and on the other to respond much more promptly. More recently, Elena and her team have received high acclaim for their legal work on facilitating changes in legislation, arising from the political situation in Crimea, that have impacted two major Metro Cash & Carry centres based in the region.
As Siemens’ Russia and Central Asia general counsel, Svetlana Gerbel has supported various business lines, including healthcare, energy and industrial automation. ‘It is hardly possible to find any other company, which operates in such a range of business segments and faces such varied challenges’, she says. As well as the sector diversity, Svetlana is also motivated by the demands of ‘the complicated economic and political environment in Russia’. Since joining Siemens from private practice in 2010, Svetlana has cultivated a 41-strong team, named “best legal department in Russia” three times in the industry press. Internally, the department also won first place in Siemens’ customer satisfaction survey two years running, and four team members have been promoted both inside and outside the legal function. Additionally, Svetlana has led the development and integration of a digital legal request tool which ensures transparency and streamlines the department’s ongoing requests’ flow. For around 12 months, Svetlana has combined her activities as GC with the position of regional manager at the gas processing and petrochemicals company Sibur Holding; a role she has found both challenging and exciting.
As part of his role as head of international lgal, Peter Gloushkov does not have direct subordinates, but on certain projects has substantial number of people in the group reporting into him. Peter is a leading expert in corporate finance and arbitration and when joining the company around ten years ago, his role was developed specifically to reflect his professional capabilities. Peter manages the legal side of international transactions and reports directly to the CEO and other members of senior management. During his time at Tatneft, Peter has managed to a certain extent alter the mentality of a previously ‘old fashioned business’, significantly improving standards of work in this area. In addition, he has improved work with advisors, bankers, auditors, compliance and counterparties. He is most proud of his achievement to implement a system of dealing with external consultants, (not only law firms but also corporate finance advisors and rating agencies) that changed the previously ‘unsystematic and chaotic’ method of work. Peter enjoys the fact that his role gives him the chance to look at problems from a creative angle, understanding various non-legal aspects.
Currently serving as executive vice-president for legal & corporate at ETK LLC, one of the largest suppliers of pipes and steel products to the markets of Russia and CIS countries, Gennady Golub enjoys working on a wide range of projects. ‘When most of the ongoing, routine processes are in working order, it allows one to concentrate on the interesting challenges that our business units are facing - and with areas as diverse as construction, media, IP production, fishery management, real estate - to name only a few - one is never short of new fresh challenges’. In charge of the legal function since 2010, Gennady has implemented several key changes to the old legal structure, which mainly centre on the introduction of interdisciplinary special project teams. As a result, special projects are now being run by working groups bringing together employees from various functions within the legal department and from legal departments of the business units involved, in contrast to the previous model of small groups of experienced employees, each running a project of their own. Currently, Gennady is taking a guiding role in an ongoing project to implement a matrix management model, which would allow to keep an efficient and manageable headcount of the central legal department of the management company, while maintaining a good grip on the local issues of the units.
Yuri Goncharuk and his seven-strong team face the unique task of supporting McDonald’s Russian expansion across an unprecedented geography. During his time in the role, he has helped open more than 400 restaurants. Yuri has brought more work in house, to bring a greater focus on the ‘ultimate goal’. He has also structured the processing of internal instructions to ensure his team concludes at least one major real estate transaction every four days. This consistent flow of work helps facilitate the company’s ambitious expansion plans in a timely and considered fashion. Other notable achievements for Yuri include creating a significant number of policies, regulations and contract precedents which have allowed the wider business to complete work independently of legal. Empowering the business in this way has also helped Yuri increase workflow speed, while safeguarding company security.
Boris Gramotkin is an internationally educated lawyer with a strong commercial focus and over a decade of experience managing in-house legal functions. As head of the legal & compliance corporate functions at Bayer, Boris is responsible for providing complete legal support to all business units of a company that has a noticeable presence in Russia and other CIS countries. Since starting the role at the end of 2011, Boris has succeeded in making the legal department a true partner to internal business units, significantly improving efficiency of the legal support and bringing the corporate compliance program to an advanced level. In addition, the team managed by Boris has played a key role in all important projects and initiatives that Bayer Russia/CIS has been involved in over recent years. Boris enjoys being ‘a reliable partner to business units’ and likes to see the real value that his team adds while helping his business to achieve its objectives in compliance with both external and internal regulations. ‘It is always exciting to navigate business through challenging and ambiguous environments by providing viable legal solutions’, Boris adds.
Becoming FleetCor’s first in-house lawyer more than six years ago, Valeriya now manages six legal professionals. Her significant organisational improvements during the intervening period include the creation of templates for contracts and court documents. When supporting domestic M&A, Valeriya takes great pride managing due diligence, negotiations and document preparation. She has also successfully supported the company’s international activities and co-ordinated several collection claims for the company’s accounts receivables. She recently led a dispute with the Federal Antitrust Service regarding a new pricing policy and a dispute with a Bulgarian company on debt collection. Valeriya enjoys being able to constantly ‘try something new’, particularly while working on new projects. She also values being able to take a part in non-legal projects and support the company’s ongoing development.
Thanks to Oleg Grishunin’s effort at the helm of the legal service at BEL development, the department is now well integrated into the wider culture and mentality of the company and is directly involved in all strategic decisions. He has transformed the department from an ‘academic’ and ‘back-office unit’ that is separated from business realities, into a department that is actively involved in defining the strategy and development of projects, able to interact effectively with all of the divisions in the company. Oleg is extremely proud of the fact that his company has not lost any of its strategically important litigation. Despite his impressive professional accomplishments, Oleg feels that the biggest highlights of his career are still in the future: ‘I think it is a bit early to sum up the results, as all the great and extraordinary achievements are still to come’. Oleg’s professional career is also full of challenges. ’Every day, in my professional activity, I discover something new and interesting. My profession allows me to experience an incomparable joy of victory and satisfaction of seeing implementation of projects that were completed with my participation, and gives me an opportunity to be creative, take on personal responsibilities and enjoy working with like-minded people’.
Anna Guertceva, head of legal at Chanel Russia, is constantly working to transform the function’s image from ‘business stopper’ to ‘proactive strategic counsel’ worthy of a seat at the table. On joining Chanel, Anna established the in-house service, building a team of trusted experts with an ‘effective synergy’ of the legal team and the business. She enjoys the diversity she encounters in her role on a daily basis.
Roman Gurichkin considers himself lucky to have chosen his current profession and specifically the field of commercial real estate. Over the course of his professional career, he is glad to have been involved in a diverse mix of projects that ‘define the modern look of cities’. After working at the Russian arm of the leading real estate developer Capital Partners between 2005 and 2007, Roman moved to the major financial corporation Uralsib. There he headed ‘back office’ business functions until moving back to Capital Partners in February 2014. After re-joining Capital Partners last year in the position of Head of Legal, Roman reassessed key priorities within the legal department, changing focus to legal support of construction and lease of retail space. In addition, Roman received the approval and supplementary budget to expand the department by hiring additional experts in commercial real estate. As a result of Roman’s improvements, other departments within the company have started to notice the help and support of legal in their daily activity. During his time at Capital Partners, Roman has worked on the implementation of iconic projects to the Russian market, such as the construction of the Ritz-Carlton hotel and the Metropolis shopping centre. The latter project had an unprecedented success in the Russian market, reflected by its subsequent sale to Morgan Stanley for $1.2bn, the largest ever transaction in the Russian commercial real estate market. While working at Uralsib, Roman also became responsible for the investment division, where he took responsibility not only for support, but also for implementation of certain tasks in the ‘front office’. Roman successfully carried out several prominent real estate transactions whilst in this role, and the experience of investments can be applied to his legal role at Capital Partners.
Dmitriy Kasiev graduated with an engineering degree in 1991, going on to found and manage his own business for several years. He gained his legal qualification in 2001, initially embarking on his studies to support his company during a financial collapse in Russia, and becoming ‘increasingly interested’ in legal issues, decided to become an in-house lawyer. Dmitriy has managed legal departments for the past decade, currently being in charge of a team of 25 employees at OMC, a major outsourcing company specialising in auxiliary and non-core functions. Achievements for Dmitriy at the company include the de-facto establishment of a department, in the form that it exists today, that fully supports all operational activities of OMC and has a strong methodological base. During his career as both lawyer and manager, Dmitriy has found it somewhat difficult to adapt to the constantly changing legislative environment in the country and correspondingly provide meaningful advice to his business. Nevertheless, he enjoys working in-house and looks forward to new challenges in his professional career.
In July 2014, Elena Kholina became GC at Sapinda - an investment holding focusing on special situation investment opportunities across Asia and EMEA. She led the opening of Sapinda’s Moscow office in September 2014, and subsequently established its legal team. Elena’s private practice and in-house roles experience includes four years at Mechel, where she rose from mid-level lawyer to a department director in under a year. During her time with the company, Elena represented a key shareholders in its acquisition of shares from another shareholder. Though the transaction involved several financial institutions, she structured its financing and negotiated terms over a short space of time, without the aid of outside counsel. Following a wealth of professional experience, Elena fully appreciates the benefits of working in-house. ‘Being the GC allows you to not only better understand the needs of the company, but also to participate in the company’s initiatives’, she says. ‘The biggest satisfaction is to see the outcome of your actions, I enjoy seeing a project being completed from the very beginning to the final results’.
‘I like my profession for its versatile nature, lack of routine and need for continuous improvement’, says Irina Kosmina. ‘The position of head of legal at BTC Group has given me significant experience in participating in interesting and complex projects. The group of companies is in the process of constant development, so I look forward to exciting new challenges in the future’. When Irina started her career at BTC Group, coming from a law firm background, the legal division was in the process of being formed. Irina successfully carried out the task to develop the entire system of legal service that has included the introduction of provisions on contractual and claim work, provisions of government bodies, accounting system of intellectual property, an algorithm of transaction acquisitions and development of standard contracts. In addition, a team of ‘outstanding lawyers’ was formed, along with groups for corporate work, real estate, administrative procedures, contractual work and handling complaints. Irina is very well known for her impressive victories in significant disputes between BTG Group and the Ministry of Defence. During the period of Irina’s tenure, the company faced a total RUB3.9bn worth of claims by the Ministry and only RUB79m were collected (or 0.02% of the original amount). Irina feels that her victories are important for BTG Group and have a ‘positive, economic and repetitive nature’. Irina believes that the sanctions imposed by the EU and the USA have had a detrimental effect on her company: ‘we faced sanctions in the form of restrictions on imports of products and equipment required by our business. In one case, we were unable to obtain goods worth €30m’. However, she feels that as a result of ‘well-constructed legal tactics’ of interaction with the contractor the issue was resolved, her company was able to gain recognition in a pre-trial order that the introduction of these restrictions was a force majeure event, resulting in it getting rid of the obligation to repurchase these products in the future. Irina likes to provide full legal support to a company that operates in the manufacturing industry, as it provides her with the opportunity to work in a structure that resembles a ‘living organism’, where she can see real issues facing the business and be able to provide successful solutions.
A full launch of a legal function in a Russian export agency is a unique operation. Until the moment of EXIAR’s creation in 2011, there was no credit export agency in the country. Alexander’s achievement to develop a functional legal unit from the company’s inception is nothing less than remarkable, considering the lack of precedent to follow. The launch included the preparation of all necessary documents, such as those specifically inherent to an export agency, as well as all documents of the company as a joint stock company. In addition, in the early years of EXIAR the legal department was given responsibility for organising and conducting meetings of the board of directors. Alexander loves being in the spotlight in determining approaches to support a Russian exporter, and directly affect the practice of export insurance. Although, having achieved his task of forming an operational legal division at EXIAR, Alexander finds it challenging to deal with the absence of any developments in Russia relating to export insurance as a national priority.
Starting out as an in-house lawyer straight after graduating with his law degree in 1995, Sergey Krylov has grown to become a highly trusted professional with an outstanding reputation. He is currently in charge of a team of 20 employees at Northern Capital Gateway, an organisation responsible for the operation and expansion of Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg. Although finding it rather difficult to adjust to Russian business culture and legal practice after five years spent abroad in Australian and UK university environments, attaining a diverse mix of qualifications, Sergey still created an immediate impact on Northern Capital Gateway upon joining the company. His improvements focus around job rotation, training and education to increase legal knowledge and skills and introduction of legal writing skills test for lawyers who apply for a position at the company. As a result, the legal department at NCG has received wide professional acclaim.
Managing a 13-strong team at Russian investment firm Bonum Capital, Anton Kukushkin values his personal role in the company’s achievements. Anton has impressed with his work on complex and long-running banking and investment projects, and major swap deals with Russian and foreign banks. He is also well known for the positive changes he has made to the legal function; such as introducing management software and building an atmosphere of mutual trust and interchangeability between employees.
Tatiana has headed legal and compliance support for world-leading pharmaceutical Sanofi’s Eurasian business since 2010. A globally-educated lawyer, she has worked in house at several other leading international companies and enjoys ‘helping business to succeed in a rapidly changing environment’. Tatiana has made it a focus to tackle ‘the misconception that lawyers interfere with business, or do not understand its challenges’. Under her leadership, the legal department has reinvented itself as a strategic partner: ‘I have contributed to the change of mind-set of the legal department from being mere legal advisors to being proactive members of the company operational activities and challenges’, she says. Some of her key initiatives in the role have included implementing an electronic contract approval system and electronic legal knowledge database designed for internal clients.
Maria Kuvaeva is in charge of a team of 18 lawyers and two technical assistants at the real estate development company, Nordstar. After her appointment to the position of head of legal, Maria has established an excellent team of professional lawyers through a lengthy selection process. Additionally, Maria has formed a clear functional structure of employees by departments (treaty department, corporate department, forensic claims department, etc), allowing for specialisation of team members in a specific field. ‘As a result the speed and quality of work of the department has improved significantly. Employees of the department constantly participate in seminars and workshops on important legal issues’ to ensure that their expertise continues to grow. Maria considers the presence of trust from the management of the company in the legal department, ‘rather than some successful lawsuit or a landmark deal,’ as the greatest achievement in her career. In her role, Maria proactively tries to respond to changes in legislation, quickly applying new innovations to the work of the company. She finds the ability to simultaneously deal with several areas of the law, as opposed to having a narrow specialisation, highly rewarding.
Vladislav Lurye has impressed peers and clients alike with his ability to navigate the legal aspect of major deals. While at MCB Capital, he has taken a guiding role in several transactions involving the acquisition and sale of banks abroad, purchase of minority interests in foreign banks and establishment of additional issue of shares. He has provided complex legal support for a number of mezzanine financing transactions (including financing M&A transactions) a type of financing that is new to the Russian market. Apart from that, he is well known for his participation in some of the largest banking IPOs and for his participation on the side of the defence in the proceedings before the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). While Vladislav’s individual achievements have stood out, he has also made substantial improvements to the legal division at MCB Capital. ‘We have greatly strengthened the legal department, gathering a strong team of professionals with experience in leading banks and law firms, as well as streamlining the work with external legal advisors’, Vladislav says. ‘As a result, we have achieved a balance between internal and external examination of lawyers in order to optimise budget spending on legal support of transactions’. Thanks to Vladislav’s personal contribution, lawyers at MCB Capital Markets have become much more involved in the work of business units, actively participating in the structuring of new investment projects and restructuring of current transactions. ‘It gives me the greatest satisfaction to achieve results in the structuring of complex transactions’, Vladislav goes on to conclude, ‘not only on our own initiative, but also through the use of the practice of the leading international law firms and investment banks’.
As head of a legal unit within Russian state bank VEB’s wider function, Andrey Lvov has contributed to the completion of several notable transactions. Among these, the project Tobolsk-Polymer (in which VEB was both borrower and lender) was named the Best Deal of 2010 by Global Trade Review. Meanwhile, VEB’s $30bn programme for the issuance of Loan Participation Notes (LPN), also supported by Andrey, received wide recognition. Andrey has also worked on significant and challenging debt restructurings at the bank.
An internationally acclaimed lawyer and member of the New York Bar, Igor Makarov serves as head of legal affairs at the Russian diversified industrial group Basic Element. Igor’s greatest achievement at the helm of the legal function is the successful management of the legal side of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Basic Element was one of the main investors in the games, deeply involved in the development and management of key infrastructure projects. ‘Each of these projects was difficult enough on its own’, says Igor. ‘But given that all of these projects had to be completed virtually in the same place, at the same time, and in accordance with very exact quality standards, the management of the legal side of the group's work proved to be extremely challenging. As any project of such magnitude, the work done in preparing for the Olympics gave rise to several large-scale disputes. These disputes are important for the group both due to the materiality of the quantum involved and the legal issues in question’. Igor has a stellar reputation for his managerial qualities. Some of his modifications to the legal function include: a KPI evaluation system for all lawyers, an annual performance review of the legal managers, a talent-retention policy, an electronic data bases for in-house lawyers, a virtual education program for in-house lawyers and veto power for the general counsel to override decisions of group companies. Igor believes that his job is never boring and requires a sensible and pragmatic approach to practicing law. He finds it very rewarding to get an in-depth view inside many industries, which ‘gives an excellent 3D picture of the whole market, its driving forces, upsides, pitfalls, and issues faced by the country’s economy as a whole’.
The corporate practice within the legal department at the Russian hypermarket chain Lenta consists of seven lawyers, who work under the supervision Maria Matuzova. Maria has lead the legal division of the company in a rather difficult period that is characterised by a major corporate conflict. Her accomplishment to keep her team of professionals intact, while achieving compliance with the priority interests, is noteworthy. In addition, Maria has implemented important changes to her department in accordance with the changing landscape in Russia, while successfully operating the corporate function and realising company goals. Maria enjoys seeing the direct results of her work and the work of her colleagues. She also feels that having mutual understanding and trust with law firms has contributed to a productive work relationship.
‘I like that my job allows for relative freedom in my professional and personal aims’ says Andrey Mikheev, general counsel at the International Grain Company, a Russia based marketer and distributor of grains and subsidiary of Glencore, the global commodities trading giant. Managing a team of 45 people across Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan allows Andrey to fully ‘understand and accept’ that he is surrounded by talented people, ‘each of whom has his personal advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses’. This is why Andrey focuses first and foremost on people, being easy on their weaknesses and shortcomings and focusing on their strengths and virtues. When asked about significant challenges faced in his career, he does not point out difficulties that arise from managing such a large unit, but rather his work to overcome his own professional weaknesses and areas for development.
An internationally-educated lawyer with substantial experience in Russia and Switzerland, Alisa Mityaeva has welcomed the opportunity to supervise legal processes at the CIS’s largest asset management company. Alisa’s international experience means she is ‘able to apply Western standards to Russian needs’. When she joined Leader Asset Management in 2008, she and her team handled PPPs when they were virtually non-existent in Russia, and where they featured, outside counsel generally advised. Under her watch, the company’s in-house team has ‘raised the quality of the expert support of these and other investment projects at an in-house level’.
Joining state-owned Rusnano soon after its 2007 inception, Oleg Mizgirev has been fundamental to the development of Russia’s nanotechnology industry, by helping to shape legislation into a ‘perfected, more flexible and a more convenient tool’. ‘This opportunity, to be completely honest, is breath-taking and really inspires me to generate new ideas and synthesise accumulated experience’, he says. Oleg has spearheaded his function’s downsizing and transformation through the amalgamation of previously separate legal and corporate governance teams - significantly improving the quality of legal services in the process. As part of the reorganisation, Oleg also completely rewrote the rules around contract work and converted it to electronic form, thereby simplifying and accelerating the process. Oleg’s professional highlight was transforming Rusnano from OJSC’s traditional model, inappropriate for venture investment, into a system closely following Western investment funds partnerships; directly attracting private investments into its funds as a result. Financially, a major challenge for Oleg and his team is Smolensk bank’s ongoing bankruptcy case, worth more than RUB700mn.
The Russian Venture Company is a government fund, dedicated to building a national innovation system in Russia by channelling public incentives to venture capital and financial support to the hi-tech sector. After spending almost three years in her role as head of legal, Irina Monina has achieved an overhaul of existing processes within the organisation. As a result of her efforts, legal is now integrated into business processes at the stage of project implementation, with the work of legal employees in relation to the front office built on the ‘consultant-client’ principle. Moreover, a systematic approach to the construction of claim-related work, along with a standardised approach for contractual work has been organised in the legal department. Irina has also divided the functioning of the legal service into areas with highlighted specialisation of employees. From a professional perspective, Irina has been widely acclaimed for her work on the implementation of deals that involve the creation of funds with state-owned and international partners within the frames of Russian law. Her experience includes participation in the creation of new forms and instruments in the Russian venture industry both from a formal, theoretical and practical standpoint, as well as combining the interests of professional lawyers in the venture capital industry and implementing joint objectives and plans. Irina also adds that the legal culture is in fact an inseparable part of the culture of society: ‘it is an important element of a professional, who considers herself a lawyer. I see the daily and laborious participation in its construction as respect and observance of law’.
As legal head of JSC Novomet-Perm, a major producer of oil and gas equipment, Konstantin Morozov’s varied workload spans the Middle East, the Americas and Indonesia. Konstantin was promoted to the role after seven years in the business, rising from legal advisor to senior legal advisor. Making the step up required him to adapt quickly and make crucial changes, including restructuring the work remit of his three direct reports and establishing a weekly reporting system. With a sterling reputation on the transactional front, Konstantin handled Novomet-Perm’s 2012 $200m private placement deal with Rusnano State Corporation and the company’s $55m debt financing by the IFC.
Evgeny Moskovets heads a 24-lawyer team across various locations at GlavUpD - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ administration for the diplomatic corps. Upon appointment, Evgeny conducted significant structural changes; setting up three specialised departments, laying out clear guidelines for work distribution across all branches and introducing internal communication and reporting systems. Evgeny sees the shift of focus he has brought to the function as one of his greatest achievements. ‘The previous approach had been in place for many years’, he says. ‘For example, now instead of asking “Can we do it?” we ask “What should we do to achieve our goal”’? Conversely Evgeny says helping to fulfil international obligations adopted from the Soviet Union has been his greatest professional challenge.
An ambitious and entrepreneurial lawyer, Lyubov Musova has transferred her positive work ethic to the rest of her legal team at Artium European Real Estate. Since joining Artium in August 2008, she has significantly improved motivation by distributing tasks according to team members’ skills and interests. ‘One of our employees was a bit conflictive, so I made him responsible for the courts and he became really good at it’, Lyubov explains. ‘Another person liked a routine job and I suggested he be responsible for the corporate issues’. As well as encouraging people to lean on their strengths, Lyubov also structured the department in a way that allows lawyers to provide mutual support, and to draw upon one other’s skills. The strong team-mentality she has bred, has helped to significantly improve service provided to internal clients. Apart from introducing noteworthy changes to the operation of the legal department, Lyubov has also won several court proceedings and has undertaken a successful company restructuring.
‘To me the legal profession is not just work that falls under my current job responsibility, but an opportunity to influence the legal culture as a whole,’ says Anastasia Nadezhdina, legal director for Russia and CIS at Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Anastasia’s legal career of over 15 years is full of impressive professional victories. Ever since her appointment at Valeant, Anastasia has played an integral role in the reorganisation of the legal department. She has changed the approach to the work of each employee and the department as a whole with each employee now having an understanding of their role in the team, as well as the prospects for professional and career development. Anastasia has also delegated responsibilities for certain lawyers to work in other CIS countries, including Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. Each country now has a dedicated lawyer who deals with full support of the ongoing work in practice areas such as corporate, contracts, tax, labour and antitrust without involvement of outside counsel. Finally, Anastasia has implemented an integrated system for of operational testing of contractors, which allows the department to receive all necessary information about partner/client services to all interested companies.
Egor Nuzhdin is general counsel for Russia and CIS at AGC Glass Europe, a major glass producer and distributor headquartered in Belgium. While Egor enjoys his position, he takes particular delight in the opportunity to work in the glass industry. ‘I produce and sell one of the best products in the world - glass - and see our products daily all around me’. Egor believes that in-house lawyers should attempt to be ‘invisible’ and do their very best in supporting the activities of their company. He feels that the in-house legal team at AGC Glass is an important element of the production pipeline at the organisation. Winning a dispute against a regional Gazprom subdivision worth RUB66m has without any doubt been one of the high points of Egor’s career, along with his work on the successful acquisitionand sale of businesses for AGC in Russia and CIS. Egor has been with AGC Glass since 2007 and initially worked as a legal advisor, eventually taking the position of general counsel in November 2013. During his tenure at the company, he has managed to introduce several impressive changes to the legal division, with his modifications to the department focusing on three key areas: ‘excellence in processes, risk elimination and provision of business support’.
Former ING legal head, Natalia Okuneva began her impressive legal career nearly 20 years ago, as an investment banking paralegal and now heads UniCredit Bank Russia’s 47-strong function. Her tenure at the bank is marked by success and wide recognition, with her team winning multiple industry awards. Internally, Natalia’s efforts to reorganise the function and make lawyers ‘visible, accessible, creative, quick, cooperative and understandable’, were highlighted when it won first place in an internal customer satisfaction survey for all support functions. To motivate the team, Natalia established a new structure which would meet certain business directions and goals and coincide with the lawyers' expertise, promote leaders to manage sub-divisions and in certain cases find new managers to head the divisions. She also implemented an internal training program and has promoted integration across legal teams in the bank’s head and regional offices, by organising conference calls and regular meetings between lawyers. Though Natalia is proud of her professional career to date, in her eyes, her greatest achievement lies elsewhere: ‘the biggest achievement of my life is my children and my family – they motivate me and help me to grow professionally’.
Heading a 22-strong team at a leading Russian consumer electronics and household appliance retailer, Pavel Ostashkin has made a big impact on his organisation. ‘My main task since joining the company has been to organise the work of our lawyers to maximise efficiency’, he says. ‘I can say that I have been able to bring the business and our lawyers together to achieve this’. Pavel has led several important cases, including Eldorado’s high-profile trademark protection case involving Yulmart; he also oversaw the industry’s largest antitrust case. The transition from legal expert to a manager is not easy, Pavel says. ‘Managing highly professional people, organising a common reporting procedure and interaction has been a serious challenge for me’. He finds it, nevertheless, extremely rewarding to work in a team of professionals. ‘I have the opportunity to influence decision-making, helping my colleagues to deal with complex issues. Having awareness of my personal involvement in the achievements of my colleagues is without a doubt a positive incentive’. Pavel enjoys working closely to the business but feels lawyers often get tempted to make business decisions and emphasises that it is imperative for them not to lose their ‘connection with legal profession’.
A highly respected lawyer with diverse expertise, Larisa Pak hit the ground running at the leading Russian internet bank when she joined September 2011. Having implemented structural improvements to the legal function’s workings, she is now ‘drawing the “redline” between legal and compliance’. Larisa enjoys ‘keeping up to date with legal trends’ and carries out constant business risk assessments in response to national political and economic developments. Larisa previously headed compliance functions at Swedbank and Renaissance Capital. She considers establishing a compliance function from scratch after only spending seven years in legal, as one of the greatest professional challenges of her career.
JSC Inter RAO UES (Inter RAO) is a is a major energy holding company in Russia that is involved in the production and sale of electricity and heat in the Russian Federation and abroad, as well as management of energy assets, engineering and supply of equipment. Alexander Pakhomov has been with the company since 2003 and established the legal department, expanding it to meet the needs of the growing company. Key achievements during his time in the position of head of the legal affairs unit include the selection of an excellent team, the introduction of regulated business processes for each functional area and the presence of managerial control over the activities and responsibilities of the subordinate units in the group. Last year alone, with the help of in-house team, RUB3bn was reclaimed in the form of tax provisions and successful cases. A successful result in a recent dispute saw Alexander return RUB633m to Tomskenergosbyt (a sister company of Inter RAO) from the fully controlled by EDF- Tomsk Distribution company. Alexander also takes pride in his creation of a management system for the control of foreign assets of the group and reorganisation of an internal debt of $1bn.
Alexey Petrusha has had a wealth of experience in the IT sector. Having previously risen from legal advisor to head of legal at Siemens IT Solutions (now Atos IT Solutions) at the age of 28, Alexey is now in charge of the legal department at another IT company, Parallels. Alexey’s relatively short in-house career is marked by impressive victories and wide professional recognition. While at Siemens, he was awarded employee of the year and in 2013 the legal department of his company was shortlisted for recognition. At Parallels, he has contributed to the improvement of the patent team’s work, with the number of patent applications growing at 20% each year. In addition, on several occasions Alexey has managed to change the court practice against state authorities. Throughout his career at Parallels, Alexey has been working hard to change the stereotype that legal ‘blocks everything’ in Russia. Since joining the company in 2013 his target was to make the legal department similar to a law firm that is working with internal customers, achieving minimum bureaucracy and maximum ‘efficiency, self-development and orientation on customer needs’. As a result of his efforts, now the legal function at Parallels acts as ‘a trusted advisor that informs about risks and gives its assessment’, without preventing transactions unless entirely necessary In fact, as his greatest career achievement, Alexey considers the feedback that he received from his sales colleagues that he is ‘different from other lawyers that block business development’. ‘I greatly enjoy my profession, I consider it to be a combination of art and science’, says Alexey. ’The life of in-house lawyer surprises me very often, especially when I start to think that nothing could surprise me. This role is the path of constant education, patience and self-improvement‘.
As a vice president for intellectual property at Yota Devices, the manufacturer of the innovative Russian smartphone YotaPhone, Dmitry Platonov has to be up-to-date in terms of new software, hardware and regulatory change that help his department run more efficiently. After his appointment as general counsel in March 2013, Dmitry reshaped the legal function, turning it into an integral element to the company performance. His improvements to the operational pipeline of the department revolve around automatisation of processes and modifications to the internal legal workflow. In the IP practice specifically, he has improved the protection process, actively screening the patent landscape of his company. Dmitry’s efforts to organise remote work with employees and contractors and develop a technology of measuring the quality of the legal documents have helped to increase the productivity of the team significantly. Unsurprisingly considering the gains in efficiency that his team has experienced, Dmitry advises other lawyers to ‘stop using email and start using high quality productivity tools’.
Artyom Podshibyakin, Russian head of legal at the Spanish clothing company Inditex, is a leading expert known for his impressive court victories. The most marquee among these include successful disputes concerning customs value and marking of imported goods and successful disputes in the real estate leasing area concerning leasing payments. Apart from these achievements, Artyom has built a successful legal team, while introducing key modifications to the operational structure of the division. He formalised all the main business-processes, establishing clear rules for the legal team and drafting essential internal policies. Additionally, he arranged drafting of templates for the most important types of contracts, while building proactive relations with the business, drafting a risks map and changing the outside counsel that the department uses. These steps all give the business the ability to continue its work with security and efficiency, without the legal team slowing down the process. Artyom mentions the difficult business environment in Russia as a big challenge for him and his legal team: ‘you should always be ready to react and protect your company from unfair parties and even criminals. Dealing with such cases are always a challenge’. He, nevertheless, takes great delight in breaking thorough the bureaucracy of state bodies and making ‘legal things happen’, and combining standards of foreign business with the rules of Russian legislation.
Gazprom Dobycha Urengoi focuses on exploration and production of natural gas from the Urengoy Gas Field in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Russia. Now in charge of a team of over 20 people based in Novy Urengoy, Galina has impressed with her improvements to the quality and performance of the department, which has helped increase the productivity of experts that are under her direct supervision. The efficiency of the team has been accomplished by introducing automated processes in the workflow of employees, freeing up more of their time for more complex and challenging work. The creation of an online seminar series for legal training has ensured that the in-house team are experts in the necessary areas of law.
Vitaliy Popov, head of legal at the official dealer of Mercedes-Benz automobiles in Russia, Avilon, is well known for his excellent leadership qualities. Changes that Vitaliy has introduced to the legal division at Avilon mainly focus on the creation of departments responsible for corporate assets, maintenance operations and courts. Another major improvement has been a successful implementation of an effective compliance system that meets international requirements, within a short timeframe: ‘The task was not easy’, but it eventually gave the company added security. When asked about his role, Vitaly replies that he enjoys the variety that working at Avilon has to offer: ‘we don’t do merely operational work, but also handle transactions and play a key role in construction projects’
The opportunity to ‘have real influence on the business-decision-making process’ and to observe how these ‘enhance the company’s performance’ are aspects that Igor Popov enjoys about his role at the Russian distributor of FMCG products SNS Group. Away from the successful implementation of local projects, one of Igor’s biggest professional victories has been the implementation of proper workflow, where the lawyers are engaged in business-processes immediately and are directly involved in generating the company’s performance, as opposed to merely taking part in solving local business cases. Building a team of cooperative people, bound with the idea of ‘comprehension of lawyer’s place and lawyer’s role’ in various business-models and business processes by all the members of the legal-team has been Igor’s most prominent organisational improvement to SNS. Igor has found it somewhat challenging to develop the perception among ‘front-office’ employees that ‘the law is not a system of interdicts but a system of business risks, which have their individual values’.
ABB’s business in Russia was facing severe problems in the period 2008-2009. At the time Dmitry Popov was employed as a senior associate at the Moscow office of Baker & McKenzie and was providing external advice to ABB. Having developed a close interaction with the company, he joined ABB in 2011 in the position of vice president for legal & compliance and was able to immediately apply his rich professional expertise to drive the department forward. Dmitry introduced many improvements to the legal function that have resulted in a stunning drop in expenses and reduced workload, with his team now working with ‘lightning speed’. Although sometimes struggling to deal with the business culture in Russia, Dmitry does not resent his decision to move in-house, as he considers his job to be a constant source of motivation.
Participating in the sale of AgustaWestland helicopters in Russia and CIS has been extremely rewarding for Sergey Potanin, head of legal at Exclases Holdings. ‘Working with the most important and demanding companies in the country and delivering first-class products, makes me enjoy this constantly changing environment that provides me with new challenges every single day’. While committed to the legal and contract management activities, Sergey relishes the opportunity to develop his other professional skills in the aviation business too. Prior to his appointment as head of legal in March 2013, Sergey worked in the position of contract manager at the holding company for over five years. He established the legal department at Exclases Holdings from scratch and has been kept busy implementing the ‘full scope of the contract management activities from a commercial and legal prospective’. Among his greatest achievements are: his work on the delivery of the first AW helicopters to Russia, the signature of extremely important deals with the Presidential administration, leading the legal work of the sale of more than 50 helicopters to their major customer, work on the upcoming opening of the Russian market for new AW models. It has been challenging to certify new helicopter models, as well as new interior and equipment, due to tough regulation in the aviation industry, however, Sergey’s continuous cooperation with the manufacturer and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), allows him to have a positive outlook to the future.
Dmitri Rezchikov has spent the majority of his remarkable legal career working for several leading law firms in Russia and Japan. He made his move in-house in 2012, when he joined Deloitte, the professional services firm, to supervise its CIS legal department of 18 lawyers in six countries. ‘There is a clear recipe for a successful legal department: you just need to make both your internal clients and your legal team happy. Our client is happy when we help run a successful business rather than putting spokes in the wheel. The world does not revolve around just legal issues. We need the skills to separate the wheat from the chaff’. Dmitri believes that his team is happiest when the work that faces them is challenging, because that is the work that keeps people interested in their jobs. With this in mind, he makes a conscious effort to measure the satisfaction of his employees, rather than assuming that everyone is always happy. Looking at the service delivery of external law firms from a perspective of a general counsel with substantial experience in private practice, allows Dmitri to give meaningful advice to outside counsel: ‘Your best marketing is a job done well and a referral. Don’t be shy to ask for my feedback on your work, as I might not volunteer it, especially if I am not a 100% happy’.
A qualified lawyer since 2001, Alexander Ronionov’s career has focused on corporate and real estate. He joined Russian warehouse property developer PNK Logistics in June 2008, with previous experience spanning private practice and in-house. From 2005 to 2007 Alexander worked at the Russian law firm Georgiev & Patners, while between 2007 and 2008 he worked at the development and investment company RDI Group. During his time at the company, Alexander has made a meaningful contribution to the running of the legal function. He is currently ‘targeting ways to improve the level of in-house legal support’ to meet business requirements and to minimise risk. A natural problem-solver, Alexander likes to tackle complicated issues in a way which meets his company’s objectives.
Maria Savelova enjoys her current role, because it offers a combination of administrative and professional functions. She also has the ability to control separate processes, while, at the same time, providing legal advice. Heading the seven-strong legal function for strategic planning at one of Russia’s largest oil company in, she has focused on steering team members towards their individual strengths; ‘not only of their skills’, but also their talents and personal qualities. This tactic has significantly increased employees’ motivation and loyalty to the company. Moreover, Maria believes her lawyers ‘have become active participants in the process of designing and planning a variety of tactics for projects’. Maria’s efforts to reorganise the department’s workforce through the ‘alignment and adjustment of work done in the division’ has enhanced competence of employees, while ‘providing quality resolution of a wide variety of issues’. The greater work variety has also improved individual morale. With several important cases up her sleeve, Maria counts her role in an international arbitration, alongside with lawyers from an international firm, as her greatest professional achievement. She sometimes finds it challenging to deal with unscrupulous counterparties who impose ‘conceptual’, rather than legal, closure of deals.
As part of Rosneft, Russia’s largest publicly traded oil company, Evgeny Savin heads three lawyers in the central administrative function, and five lawyers regionally in the team he founded. ‘The legal support function of the gas business that I currently manage, has been created by my immediate initiative’ Evgeny explains. ‘Before I started work at the company, this division did not exist. The management function has been created only 2 years ago, thus the mere fact of its successful operation is a great success’. Evgeny has experience in this area, having successfully established and supervised TNK-BP Management’s legal function. Evgeny finds his work in the industry extremely rewarding; particularly his ‘involvement in major gas projects’.
Irina Savina joined Astellas Pharma in a time of rapid growth and expansion, when the legal function was only starting to develop. Initially, she worked as the sole lawyer at the company, taking part in various projects that ranged from business start-up in CIS countries, to compliance program implementation and the development of legal training. When the department was established she became responsible for its operation, as well as the recruitment and development of staff, and provision of legal support for the most important corporate projects. Irina has been credited for her outstanding organisational skills that allowed her to create a professional and business-oriented team. Irina likes her role because it involves working in a rapidly growing multinational company which has the aim to improve the lives of patients around the world and strives to create new innovative medicine. ‘As a lawyer, I am very proud to take part in these projects and provide legal support to the best I can’, says Irina.
The position of head of legal at the Russian meat producer Romcor provides Olga Sharova with the resources and opportunities to influence the efficiency of the organisation as a whole. At the same time, as Olga states, the resolution of complex tasks constantly motivates her to self-improve and improve the work of the department. Upon taking the helm of the legal function, Olga was able to substantiate the necessity to use an optimal approach to the distribution of tasks and projects between her subordinates and external counsel. This meant a radical change to the way that the company purchased external legal services. Olga considers the creation of a legal practice practically from scratch as the defining highlight of her career. She also is proud of her achievement to successfully choose an optimal structure for her department. She finds it rather difficult, but still highly rewarding to ‘develop a common position and consolidate internal resources against external circumstances’ when making management decisions in a clash of interests within the framework of the holding structure.
When he arrived at investment firm A&NN in 2013, Alexey Sinkarenko’s substantial private practice experience motivated him to convert the legal department into a ‘law firm’. To achieve this, he focused on providing the same quality of service, client commitment and sophisticated document management system. Alexey marks his team’s capacity to handle major projects and transactions to the standard of a traditional law firm – and its related cost-saving benefits – as his greatest professional achievement. He has no regrets about moving move in-house: ‘Every day his role is different, as you never know where you’ll end up and how your day will go’. Alexey’s daily goals are to ‘transform the perception that finance and investment professionals have about lawyers’ and promote greater teamwork.
Artem Shirokov is general counsel at the venture capital firm Bright Capital (offices in Moscow and Silicon Valley). Artem has been with the firm from its inception in 2011 and currently combines the role of general counsel with the activities of CEO at Bright Capital Advisors LLC, a consulting wing of the company. ‘I work at the intersection of law, investments, management and negotiations. I enjoy the fact that I more involved in business activities that legal counselling usually undermines.’ During his time at the company, Artem has contributed to the creation of two investment funds (Venture Capital: Cleantech and Digital), counselled legal activities of private equity projects under Bright Capital management, has provided legal support for over 40 deals and tuned corporate governance and processes within the funds. Before joining Bright Capital, Artem gained professional experience in major international and Russian legal consulting firms.
VEB Leasing’s national legal department, its direction and performance criteria were created in 2008 under Denis Shkolnikov’s management. Now heading a 30-strong team, Denis is proud of having created the legal function for Russia’s largest leasing company. As head of legal, Denis takes decisions which directly impact the company and frequently manages events with significant strategic importance to VEB Leasing.
Rodion Shumilov has been in charge of the legal department at one of Moscow’s leading luxury real estate development companies for more than five years, and since the beginning of 2015 has been head of corporate centre and deputy CEO. In his current role, Rodion manages both the legal and asset management departments with a total headcount of 48 employees under his direct supervision. Rodion’s remarkable achievements are a direct result of his exceptional leadership qualities and are seen through his organisational improvements. Since 2011 key processes such as legal examination of contracts, warrants as well as internal documents have been gradually transformed from paper to electronic form. Since 2012 Rodion has introduced a motivation system based on employee KPIs. Moreover, Rodion has introduced performance standards for many functional areas. The department is currently evaluated on three fundamental and fixed elements: the dignity of the individual, level of professionalism and excellence of service. Rodion has encountered many challenges during his career. He specifically highlights consequences of the 2008 financial crisis in the form of a large number of claims from creditors and also mentions large-scale reorganisation of the entire group of Don- Stroy lasting for over two years. Rodion not only feels that he and his team have been able to resolve these challenges successfully, but also mentions that they have made the legal department ‘stronger and more competent’. Rodion is very proud of his team and says: ‘I work with a team of professionals who really love their work, love the law and are the kind of people that would argue over who will be the first to read the new issue of the legal journal and discuss recent changes in legislation in their spare time’.
‘The work of a lawyer in the media sector in Russia, in my view, is extremely interesting from a legal perspective’, opines Alexey Smirnov, head of legal at Russian media sales business, Zefir Media. ‘On the one hand, it is exciting from the side of general legal work; on the other in terms of the interaction with the creative and vibrant side at the beginning of commercial activity’. Alexey’s contribution to Zefir Media’s legal department has been immense; as he redefined all team members’ responsibilities along specific product lines, while at the same time designating each individual an understudy to cover their remit if necessary. Alexey has also supported the company through a number of major transactions, including French company Lagardère’s sale of European Mediagroup to the Russian holding company Siberian Business Union in 2011. For Alexey, though, the greatest achievement of his career to date does not fall under his transactional or organisational work, but rather the understanding he has developed of how to interact with government bodies.
Igor Smirnov considers the biggest achievement in his career to be the earning of an undisputable trust within ING both locally and globally. ‘My colleagues know that any request to me and my team will be handled in a professional way and responded with a timely and thorough legal advice.’ He considers the creation of such an atmosphere to be ‘not a matter of one day or a month’ and not a question of ‘one or two bright deals or big internal projects’, but a result of ‘years of consistency, professional competence, personal integrity and commitment to the highest standards of the team- and individual work’. During Igor’s tenure as head of legal at the bank, the quality of his legal team has become very well known in the market, and as a result in 2014 three of his team members were head hunted by competitors, eventually departing his team. This shrinking of the legal department required Igor to rebuild his team practically from scratch. He managed to tackle that task effectively through reorganisation of workloads: ‘I managed to spread around the same values and the same high standards of work in our newly formed team. I'm proud that I've managed to overcome this challenge and that I am now leading a great team of professionals’. Over the five years that Igor has been in charge of the legal function at ING, he has implemented both a system of back-ups and successors and a system of short term assignments for team members in other offices (London, Amsterdam, Singapore). Lawyers are also now assigned to specific product lines. As a result of Igor’s efforts salaries of his team have been significantly increased, something that the team members appreciate.
A bright and adaptive lawyer, Alexander Smirnov held senior in-house roles at several leading Russian companies, and headed Goltsblat BLP’s commercial law practice, before becoming Moscow Exchange’s legal head in 2013. Since his arrival, he reinforced the function’s ‘customer service’ by introducing a ‘satisfaction index’, which allowed internal clients to score team members. ‘Lawyers began to focus on achieving objectives set by internal customers, both by front and back office departments’, he explains. To improve the team’s integration with the business, Alexander has introduced a process of centralisation of legal functions within the group of companies that comprise Moscow Exchange. Among several successful projects, Alexander’s role in The Russian Central Bank’s sale of a $500m stake in the Exchange to Russian and foreign investors particularly stands out. Alexander has relished the transition from private practice to Russia’s largest exchange, and the opportunity it brings to ‘be involved in the construction of a big company’.
‘I have worked on a number of projects that have never been done before’, says Elena Sokolova, director of the department responsible for legal support of the capital markets division at Sberbank of Russia, the largest bank in Russia and Eastern Europe. ‘They required high legal proficiency and expertise, and there are still plenty of new challenges for me to overcome’. An ambitious and experienced lawyer, Elena has enjoyed a successful in-house career and currently leads 15 lawyers specialising in capital markets and banking and finance. She is working to upskill the team in order to optimise cost-effectiveness and minimise legal risk. ‘In comparison to law firms, in-house lawyers are truly integrated into the business’, Elena says. Although she concedes elements of that integration may not always be an ‘enjoyment’, it is, overall, a ‘big advantage for the whole team and individual lawyers’.
As group legal counsel for Russia at Ricoh Rus, the Russian arm of an international image electronics company, Evgenia Solomentseva has the opportunity to interact with representatives of many international countries. She feels that the exchange of experience and knowledge of foreign practices develops an ‘innovative approach to work and generates ideas for development’. After joining the company over four years ago from the Russian Federal Migration Service as an assistant, Evgenia has risen to her current position and has established the legal department as it is today: ‘during the course of my career at Ricoh, I have set up a system of document workflow, a procedure for approval of contracts and internal documents, as well as a procedure for the validation of contracts and a procedure for due diligence of counterparties’. Evgenia believes that there is a distinct problem with the lack of understanding of how the business works among employees in the ‘front office’. She explains that people from revenue-generating functions have their own business-oriented thinking that does not always coincide with reality of the work that the back office have to complete. ‘It is very important and challenging to find compromise between the law and aspirations of business departments such as sales and marketing’. Although the departments have to work to see eye-to-eye, Evgeniya still feels appreciated by her co-workers and states that she is frequently ‘the person at the company who other employees refer to first on any subject’. While it might not always be easy to find solutions to her issues, as they are often not entirely relevant to her, Evgeniya likes to see that her opinion is valued.
Alexey Spektor is a lawyer with a diverse educational background, including a physics PhD, a civil law degree and a partial MBA. This has provided him with practical experience and commercial focus to successfully lead the CIS & Baltic States legal department at the German software corporation SAP for ten years. Through recruitment and mentoring, Alexey has helped his team become a respected part of SAP’s global function, known for providing all-around best-in-class legal service. In Alexey’s view, it is also ‘a highly useful driver of deal support transformation’. Alexey is also widely acclaimed for his role in the six-year preparation and negotiation stage of deal completed in 2010. As legal head, Alexey feels it is sometimes hard to keep the ‘right balance between multidimensional and often contradictory demands’ and ‘ensure effective business support and 100% compliance’. He is eager to meet future legal and organisational challenges, while ‘professionally supporting people, who make the world run better’.
With several years of experience in both a leading international law firm and in-house, Bronislava currently leads legal activities of iTech Capital, a private equity fund that invests in the IT and Internet sectors. During her career Bronislava has acquired deep IT industry and private equity knowledge and has managed several prominent transactions, some of which have received professional acclaim for the quality of origination, execution and portfolio management. Her deals have won various industry awards, such as Venture Deal of the Year Award (twice), Deal of the Year at the Russian Venture Awards 2013 and 2014. On the operational front, Bronislava has successfully reorganised the legal department structure and the company documentation flow since joining the iTech Capital. By far the most challenging point of Bronislava’s in-house career to date have been ‘corporate, tax and commercial restructurings of groups of companies due to swift changes in Russian legislation’.
Evgeniy manages the 11-strong legal function of leading Russian oil and gas business, MosStroiTransGas (MSTG). Joining the legal department at a difficult time for the company and establishing a team of qualified professionals from a ‘clean sheet’ has been among the greatest highlights of Evgeny’s career. During his work in the role, Evgeny has built relationships with management of all holding companies and all structural units across Russia, thereby ensuring interests of the whole business are considered when providing legal advice. Having handled several major transactions and won an abundance of lawsuits, Evgeny values his ability to remain objective in any situation. ‘I have to be objective, no matter what, especially in view of the fact that unfortunately our colleagues from other specialties, contractors and partners are consciously or unconsciously trying to influence that objectivity’, he says. ‘I feel that I have been able to keep this feature, which allows me to do my job well’. Evgeny is proud of the trust he has earned from company leadership and values the freedom he has had in selecting the legal mechanisms used to implement business strategy. MSTG’s wide geographical coverage sometimes makes it difficult to coordinate different business units’ activities across the whole of Russia and Evgeny is developing a remote communication strategy to tackle this issue.
As chief legal officer at an international manufacturer and supplier of lightning solutions, Uliana Tikhonova was presented with the challenging, but interesting task to facilitate the global restructuring of the company’s corporate structure with series of M&A transactions that took several years. She achieved her goal due to careful planning: ‘Generally, everything goes smoothly if you’re well-prepared, qualified, and good at decision making. Cultural differences play their time-consuming part but at the same time are the “seasoning” for our everyday professional life’. This determination to succeed has allowed Uliana to establish the legal function at the company. When Uliana started her career at the organisation as paralegal there were only two lawyers in the Moscow and Ryazan offices. Currently she is in charge of two legal divisions with a total of 12 lawyers. Uliana had to develop and implement all legal policies in the companies belonging to Lightning Technologies (including regulation on contractual work and a compliance system). Once these were in place, she could then work on the optimisation of those procedures and efficiency of the operation of the department. Uliana loves being deeply involved in the life of a manufacturing company, as she is always completing ‘something big’ and seeing how her contributions successfully affect her company.
A ‘qualified executive with substantial and wide in-house legal, corporate and management experience’, Dmitriy Timofeev heads Rosvodokanal Group’s 88-strong legal function. He has led multiple award-winning legal teams and was named top corporate governance director in the construction section of AMR & Kommersant’s ‘Top 1000 Russian Managers 2014’. Despite his relatively recent arrival (July 2014), Dmitriy has already made a significant impact with through some pivotal changes to the legal department. These include a new centralised and vertically-integrated functional structure, designed around Russia’s best in-house practices, and a major automation project in terms of contracts, corporate work and court framework. Under his leadership, the department achieved a 25% cost reduction and debt court recovery shot up from 70% to 97% from 2013 to 2014. Dmitriy has led four ‘complex corporate, organisational and legal restructuring and reorganisation projects’. He also has an exceptional transactional record, including three major Russian companies’ IPOs and more than 20 successful M&A deals. Dmitriy strives to adapt to the difficult and rapidly changing landscape in the Russian business world. ’Over ten years ago, my skills were utilised by Russian companies, which were focusing on entering both debt and equity capital markets’, he says. ‘Now, companies need such skills to survive in these hard close-to-crisis times’. Nevertheless, he sees his role of being close to the business, while solving problems and sharing the success of achieving breakthrough results with his team, as imperative to the company success.
Andrey Titov has worked in the position of head of legal at CTC Media, Russia’s leading independent broadcasting company, for almost eight years and sees his organisational modifications to the legal department as crucial to the ongoing success of his company. The creation, within two months, of a new federal television channel ‘CTC Love’, set a precedent in the Russian media market and marked a major achievement for Andrey Titov and his legal team. ‘The lawyers did a great job, not only in the implementation of registration procedures, obtaining permits, but also signing a large number of contracts to fill the air time, and also contracts with advertisers,’ says Andrey. The first major achievement for Andrey at CTC Media was creating a structure in the department by business function. Andrey has also contributed to the integration of lawyers into business processes at the company, allowing lawyers to actively participate in the process of generating company profits and come up with new ways of building relationships with partners, while improving existing ones. Andrey’s efforts to strengthen the legal department and achieve ‘customer focus’ of lawyers have paid off, the department has seen an increase in its internal rating within the group several times. In his role, Andrey faces the difficult task of dealing with ‘cybersquatters, pirated resources and unfair actions in the field of trademarks’ on an ongoing basis.
As part of her role as both deputy head of legal at Gazprom Energoholding LLC, a coal fired power generation company and head of legal of the Moscow United Energy Company, Larisa Titova is in charge of a team of 70 people. A professional with both legal and accounting education, Larisa has developed a legal service that is an active participant in the most important business processes for the company. ‘Legal assistance is provided from the inception of the project idea to its logical conclusion’ she says. As an experienced lawyer with an excellent ability to solve diverse and complex problems, Larisa has made her mark on both companies. She has personally been involved in litigation in disputes with tax authorities and has provided legal support of numerous investment projects. Moreover, she has been working with five legal services providers and has prepared draft laws and regulations in the field of energy and heat.
Award-winning corporate lawyer Victor Topadze joined KEH during its rapid transformation from start-up to 700-strong pre-IPO company. The business’ exponential growth was mirrored by its legal function, and in response, Victor changed the group’s operational structure. ’The size of the department in two years has grown from four to 15 people, which has required building a new functional structure with several reporting lines’, he explains. Implementing these changes to the company’s functional pipeline is undoubtedly one of the main highlights of Victor’s career to date. Victor says he enjoys working on ‘new projects’ and facing ‘challenges virtually every day’. He proactively fights the battle to make management perceive legal as a business partner.
Natalia Trapeznikova points out it is often complicated to deal with Russia’s inherently difficult legal landscape. She finds it very exciting to work in house, however, and see how the efforts of her work directly benefit the business, while watching her colleagues develop professionally. Natalia began her career at VICI in 2011, at a time when the group did not have a centralised legal department, but just ‘one or two lawyers that would provide advice to the separate companies’. A major highlight of her career has been establishing one consolidated legal function that ’works as a single block’ and solves problems efficiently for the business.She declines to take credit for her company’s achievements, as she feels she merely provides legal support. At the same time, Natalia believes that her work on legislation has been crucial, due to the challenges of Russia’s legal system. Vichiunai-Rus llc is the biggest factory in Russia producing surimi food products. The legal department serves not only the legal function of Vichiunai Rus, but also two other companies located in the Kaliningrad region – Frost Logistics llc and VuchiRusTrans llc - which together make up the Russian manufacturing complex (producing, storing, logistics) for the Group as a whole.
An ambitious and pragmatic lawyer, Andrey Valovoy has reached great professional heights in his career. His tenure as general counsel for Russia, CIS & Israel at Eli Lilly has seen him facilitate an major corporate reorganisation. Prior to that he worked at Abbott Laboratories, where he made a positive impression with his work on the transactional work. Apart from implementing changes to the principle of client interaction, Andrey has streamlined work with outside counsel and implemented a practice for early participation in business processes, which has allowed the company to save resources. Andrey’s guiding role in reorganising the department has been imperative to an improvement in efficiency in the work of the legal team: put simply, the ‘corporate lawyers are able to give more efficient business advice’. Andrey is delighted to work in an ‘indispensable’ part of the business and enjoys influencing business processes in his daily role. Challenging aspects in Andrey’s role include managing expectations related to his work and discussing and informing management of the opportunities that exist within the law, while making clear what the legal frames are.
Immediately after joining Alliance Healthcare’s Russian business, Elena Vaschuk made a real impact on the legal department. ‘During my term at the company, we haven’t had a single negative decision in court, we haven’t had have a single material litigation against the company’, she says. ‘Additionally, the amount of fines levied against us have dropped 10 times. I have also implemented comprehensive anti-bribery and anti-trust compliance programs’. Heading the legal, security and compliance departments has allowed Elena to introduce several fundamental changes to the company’s organisational structure; an exercise repeated from her previous work experience. As well as managing cross-functional projects based in foreign jurisdictions, Elena feels one of her biggest challenges has been implementing a ‘corporate culture based on compliance with law’. She welcomes the opportunity to ‘significantly influence the decision-making processes’ in her company.
‘I like the legal profession itself and enjoy when I’m able to propose possibilities for business development’, says Evgeniya. Though Evgeniya Vetoshnikova was only 27 when she was appointed Sony Russia’s legal head she made a big impact on the department; implementing several defining changes to its operations. She has helped create a common legal database and initiate IP protection procedures. Her efforts have contributed to her team’s ability to resolve almost all legal issues without instructing outside counsel. Aside from her achievements as a manager, Evgeniya has several major court victories to her name. She drew particular attention for her role in a contractual dispute with a shareholder, which concluded in the Supreme Court overturning a Court of Appeal decision and ruling in Sony’s favour.Other notable cases for Evgeniya include a successful resolution of a court case to avoid recovering of RUB500m by a plaintiff, successful litigation related to reimbursement of legal expenses, work related to the minimization of the confusingly similar products that infringe IP rights and several successful IP cases.
When Julia Volodchenkova joined the aircraft leasing division of VEB, subsidiary of state-owned Vnesheconombank, eight years ago, she transformed legal’s contribution to international project work. ‘Our team is now dealing with a project from the very beginning until its completion’, she says. ‘We often advise on various legal issues upon completion as well. We are not only a back-office legal function of a company, but a project group as well’. Julia has spent more than 15 years working in-house, specialising in aircraft leasing for eight of those years. She sees the part she has played in ‘developing aircraft leasing in Russia from scratch’ as one her greatest professional challenges to date. Having facilitated the leasing of so many aircrafts to, Julia says watching people flying these planes is a constant source of joy.
Sberbank Venture Capital, previously known as Troika Venture Capital, is the venture investment arm of the largest banking institution in Russia and the third largest bank in Europe. Its investments mainly focus on the IT, software, financials and financial technology sectors, covering both Russian and international companies. Joining from Rusnano almost three years ago, Andrei Zakharov is currently heading a team of three lawyers. He has impressed peers and clients with his ability to significantly reduce budgets for several problems and has been particularly proactive in implementing new processes in the legal department. Namely, he has implemented innovative systems for increasing efficiency: grinding contracts, working with documents, selection of outside counsel and organisation of document turnover. Andrey is very pleased with the opportunity to work closely with the business in his day-to-day role, but finds it somewhat challenging to face the constantly changing ‘multitasking and bureaucracy’.
As GC to Russian conglomerate Interros, controlled by billionaire Vladimir Potanin, Marianna Zakharova has successfully defended long-term multibillion-dollar actions and weathered the storms of major restructurings and economic crunches. She is also a non-executive director at Norilsk Nickel, and the commercial mindset this requires informs Marianne work at Interros. Currently leading 20 lawyers, though Interros’ legal team has shrunk since her arrival, it is more efficient and takes a heightened role in day-to-day business. Its structure has become similar to a law firm: ‘There are senior associates, associates, junior lawyers’, Marianna explains. ‘Senior associates may chose projects they wish to work on, they can also have training in an international law firm to gain experience in a particular field. Team members are motivated by interesting work and focus on the end result’.
As a lawyer at the venture capital firm Edison VC, Ekaterina has a lot of ground to cover. ‘I’m more of a personal lawyer’ she explains. ‘I work for a particular group of people, taking care of all types of their assets and deals’. Ekaterina enjoys the ‘mutual trust’ she has with her co-workers. During her previous work experience, she provided comprehensive legal support to a public company involved in an LCIA arbitration.
At the age of only 23, Ramil Zaynetdinov was appointed to head a legal department of 15 employees of the Ulianovsk aircraft plant and guided the legal team through a rather difficult period. Then at the age of 25, Ramil was invited to lead a team of in-house lawyers responsible for restructuring of Rostselmash plant based in Rostov-on-Don, the biggest manufacturer of agricultural machinery in Eastern Europe. Ramil then worked as a deputy head of legal of the parent holding company of Rostselmash, subsequently spending several years at the private equity fund Invest AG as an investment lawyer. It goes without saying that Ramil’s impressive career to date put him in a perfect position to make significant contributions to the legal department at Invest AG, immediately after being entrusted to become the vice president for legal affairs at the company. During his time in the role, Ramil has contributed to the creation of trustworthy relationships between the legal department and other units (investment, financial, etc.). As a result of his efforts, in-house lawyers are now viewed not as ‘censurers or controllers’, but rather as ‘full-fledged project team members’, who add value to final results.
Russia: An Overview
The sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, the European Union, Japan and a number of other states in response to Russia’s role in the Ukrainian crisis have had a significant impact on the legal market and have added to the uncertainty surrounding the Russian economy. This factor combined with the sanctions against a number of Russian financial institutions has sparked a collapse in inbound foreign investment and triggered a flight of capital out of Russia. The corporate, commercial and capital markets practices of a number of law firms have consequently seen a significant fall in new instructions. A number of UK and US firms have also opted to stop acting for sanctioned entities and individuals, leaving a gap that Russian law firms have been only too keen to fill. The increasing role of state-owned firms in the Russian economy, and their willingness to adopt Russian law when engaging in transactions, has added impetus to this movement.
Foreign investors that are already embedded in Russia remain active and continue to provide a steady flow of instructions for law firms, notably in real estate and domestic M&A. Dispute resolution, where international and Russian firms compete on an equal footing, remains an active area. The country’s two former highest courts were merged into one Supreme Court located in St Petersburg, although the impact of this remains to be seen.
Few sanctions-related disputes have hit the courts yet, but contentious and non-contentious advice is top of the agenda for international advisers in Russia.
While their transactional colleagues in Moscow are suffering, the current sanctions on Russia have been a boon to trade and sanctions lawyers, who are fielding countless enquiries from Russian and international clients. The fact that the sanctions are so multi-layered, leaving plenty of scope for interpretation, has increased the demand, particularly when it comes to deciding what constitutes a controlling stake in a company, something that was relevant to the designated Russian individuals who were named in the first few rounds of sanctions and who owned stakes in many different companies. This uncertainty has, in many respects, been more damaging to Russian business than the sanctions themselves, something that the US authorities were fully aware of when they rolled them out.
This is very different from the more wide-ranging sanctions that have previously been imposed on countries such as Iran, Libya or Cuba, but the fact that the US and EU economies have far stronger ties to Russia has meant that the demands for advice have increased significantly.
As to whether the Ukraine crisis and the resultant sanctions will lead to full-blown disputes, most agree that it isn’t a case of if but when. Nothing concrete has hit the courts yet, although companies are already starting to put together challenges to the sanctions, particularly in the EU.
A precedent has already been set by Iran’s central bank that successfully had an EU asset freeze lifted following challenges in the EU courts, and the hope is that certain Russian businesses will be able to do the same.
In the US, Gazprombank has also instructed a team of lobbyists to lobby against the debt financing restrictions that were imposed by the US Treasury. On top of breach of contract claims arising from companies affected by the sanctions, another likely source of disputes will be related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, particularly in regard to businesses that had assets in the region. In these cases, the disputes will probably fall under investment treaty rules, although even here it is unclear how one could shape a claim because Crimea is still disputed territory.
The challenge of finding legal representation works both ways and certain Russian individuals and institutions on the sanctions list have been dropped by their law firms during a dispute. This is a fact that many lawyers find deeply troubling, particularly since those on the sanctions list haven’t necessarily done anything wrong, but the sanctions, particularly from the US, are limiting their access to legal representation.
‘There are areas, such as international arbitration, and particularly highly specialised areas such as investor-treaty arbitration,’ says Alex Gerbi at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, ‘where if international firms are precluded from working for certain Russian clients, and those are the only firms that have serious capability in the area, this could prejudice the position of those clients quite significantly if they are faced with material disputes in those areas.’
The Moscow office limits its practice to business disputes both in Russian courts at all levels and in all regions, and in international arbitrations in all major arbitral centers around the world. The Moscow office is also active in conducting internal investigations for foreign companies facing both criminal investigations and civil lawsuits in their home countries. For example, it has performed many investigations under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and its UK counterpart.
Our 10-lawyer Moscow team is led by partners Ivan Marisin and Vasily Kuznetsov, both of whom are highly ranked by all legal publications that cover the Moscow market.
Ivan Marisin is the Managing Partner of the Moscow office and European Chair of the firm’s International Arbitration Practice. He has represented hundreds of domestic Russian and international clients in major litigations and arbitrations for over 20 years. These include many cases involving the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards in Russia. He is a member of the Moscow Bar and an accredited arbitrator at the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Chamber of Industry of the Russian Federation (ICAC), the International Arbitral Center in Vienna, and other leading arbitration forums. He is ranked in the top-tier of practitioners for dispute resolution by Chambers Global, Chambers Europe, and Legal 500 EMEA.
Vasily Kuznetsov also specializes in business dispute resolution. He has worked with Ivan Marisin for more than 10 years. He has represented domestic and international clients in major litigation and arbitration, including in commercial cases involving the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards in Russia. He has been described as a “rising star” and “dynamic practitioner” by Chambers Global.
Complex financial disputes are at the core of the QE Moscow practice. Our Moscow partners are highly experienced in complex cross-border corporate disputes. They work in tandem with the firm’s market-leading complex financial products practice in London and New York to give the companies we represent seamless transatlantic service.
The firm’s Moscow partners have deep experience arbitrating complex international cases in virtually every business sector. These include disputes under the auspices of the ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, CIETAC, ICSID, ICDR, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, English Arbitration Act, and their counterparts in Vienna, Warsaw, and Moscow. They were also successful in enforcement cases and in other arbitration-related proceedings in Russia and other countries.
The firm’s Moscow partners also have extensive experience conducting internal investigations for foreign companies doing business in Russia.
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