Firm Profile > Concern Dialog law firm > Yerevan, Armenia
Concern Dialog law firm Offices
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Concern Dialog law firm > The Legal 500 Rankings
Leading firms Tier 1
Sedrak Asatryan and Aram Orbelyan lead the first-rate team at Concern Dialog law firm, which is particularly recommended for its strength in labour and employment law. The 'very experienced, professional and business-orientated' team is also known for its experience in major cross-border litigation, complicated appeals before the domestic courts and complex insolvency and bankruptcy cases, and has a strong international arbitration practice. In addition, the team is noted for its considerable expertise in mining and telecoms, as well as in the renewable energy sector. Corporate and finance head Narine Beglaryan and of counsel Artur Hovhannisyan, who focuses on tax and administrative law matters, are also key members of the ‘smart and effective' team.
Sedrak Asatryan; Aram Orbelyan
Other key lawyers:
Artur Hovhannisyan; Narine Beglaryan; Lilit Karapetyan
‘Concern Dialog is the largest “one-stop-shop” law firm in Armenia and it operates to the highest international law firm standards. It (competently) covers a lot of industry sectors and branches of law, provides comprehensive support on domestic due diligence and regulatory matters, and understands cross-border transactions very well.’
‘Aram Orbelyan is vastly knowledgeable and very energetic; he provides very practical legal advice and is “hands-on” in transactions. Aram is extremely responsive and very reliable. I should also note Narine Beglaryan and Lilit Karapetyan, both of whom are very knowledgeable on regulatory matters.’
‘Concern Dialog is the one firm I always recommend to my colleagues when there’s a need for legal assistance. The team’s main strengths are accuracy, professionalism and dedication to their work.’
‘I really appreciate CD team’s style and way of treating its clients. People here are always ready to provide me with all kinds of support with maximum involvement and on time. I would particularly like to mention Aram Orbelyan, Lilit Karapetyan and Narine Beglaryan. The good qualities of the team members I’ve mentioned are their awareness of the local and global situation, strategic thinking (team members understand not only the legal aspects of our businesses but also the economic and social issues that may affect us) and good communication.’
‘The firm is very quick in providing responses. Analyses are well grounded, precise and easy to grasp.’
‘Aram Orbelyan has good business acumen and shares his opinions in a very clear and excellent manner. Narine Beglaryan and Lilit Karapetyan are very responsive and always eager to assist.’
‘What makes Concern-Dialog unique is that it has the highest professional qualities as well as a responsible approach to work, including compliance with all agreed deadlines.’
‘Our collaboration was mostly with Aram Orbelyan and Artur Hovhannisyan. The most valuable qualities of both of them are: being well prepared for all discussions; taking into account others’ opinions; providing comprehensive answers to all the questions raised; and demonstrating the highest professional qualities.’
ACBA Bank JSC (ex ACBA Credit Agricole)
ID bank CJSC
HSBC Bank Armenia CJSC
Veolia Jur CJSC
“French University in Armenia” Foundation
Karas Group LLC
Majorel Armenia LLC
Nairi Insurance JSC
Armenian Copper Program JSC
Dundee Precious Metals Inc (Canada)
Arznu Tohmayin TKhT JSC
Ericsson AB (branch in Armenia)
Gebruder Weiss GmbH
Ler Ex Energia LLC
Concern Dialog law firm > Firm Profile
Concern Dialog law firm founded in 1998 is the largest and one of the oldest law firms in Armenia. Concern Dialog is a full-service law firm and provides services in litigation, representation, and legal advising. Concern Dialog is one of the few major Armenian firms ranked by Chambers and other major international rankings who in addition to the business law practice has established litigation, family law and criminal defence practices. The firm has 23 years of hands-on experience of working with individuals and corporate clients, including major international and foreign law firms. During the previous years, Concern Dialog and its partners received several top mentions and recognition in the world leading law initiatives such as Chambers and Partners, Legal 500, IFLR 1000, Benchmark Litigation Europe, Who is Who Legal and others. The firm’s clientele includes national banks and international finance organisations, major telecom operators, mining companies and the Government of Armenia and municipalities as well as high stake individuals, including ex-president and ex-prime minister of Armenia, ex-ministers, judges and prominent businesspersons and families.
The firm is member of TAGLaw — a network of independent law firms and NEXTLAW — a global referral network (by Dentons). In addition, the firm cooperates with individual firms from jurisdictions not sufficiently covered by the networks (including Georgia, Russia, some US states, Europe and Asia) to ensure truly global, yet specialised coverage to its clients.
Concern Dialog’s lawyers lecture at prestigious universities in Armenia, as well as in the Justice Academy and the School of Advocates of Armenia. The firms on pro-bono basis (completely free of charge or at substantially discounted rate) annually support several cases for vulnerable groups – mostly in criminal law defence and in labour law practice. In addition, the team is actively engaged in legislative and judicial reform processes. They are actively reviewing the relevant drafts, participating in public consultations, providing opinions within these processes, as well as undertaking studies by their initiative to find the shortcomings and suggest legislative and practical solutions to stakeholders.
Areas of practice: During its development, the firm expanded its practice areas while still keeping a strong litigation practice. Since 2006, the firm started its specialisation in the telecommunications sector and currently provides services to one of the three mobile operators in Armenia and some smaller telecommunications operators. Moreover, the firm is involved with almost every major transaction in the telecommunications field to date.
Concern Dialog is also highly respected for its work in complex case litigation practice, labour and employment law (having handled around 350 labour law cases over the last ten years as well as conducting numerous labour law due diligences and consulting projects), corporate and M&A, regulatory issues in mining and renewable energy, telecommunications, taxes and support for transboundary transactions.
The firm has developed a wide range of services aimed at supporting business development in Armenia, from company law, real estate related issues, licensing, tax and customs regulation to support during inspections, litigation and white-collar crime.
Concern Dialog was one of the first firms in Armenia to develop a specialised non-performing debt collection legal support service for telecommunication operators and financial institutions. Since 2021 the firm launched a specialized brand for this service – Delex law firm (by Concern Dialog).
The firm has been retained for several high-level cases in the courts (for defamation, shareholder cases, benchmark labour cases and high value and complex tax cases, mostly in telecommunications and mining sectors) and has consulted and represented the Government on different international arbitration matters.
Concern Dialog was retained for several major transactions in the telecommunications, mining and banking sectors. This includes acting as the local legal and tax counsel on a Eurobond inaugural public issuance by an Armenian bank, supporting the acquisition/sale of a mobile operator in Armenia, supporting a major acquisition in the mining sector and others.
|Real estate and construction||Aram Orbelyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Labour and employment||Aram Orbelyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Governmental relations||Aram Orbelyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Litigation and ADR||Aram Orbelyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|International Arbitration||Aram Orbelyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Public international and international human rights (ECHR)||Aram Orbelyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Banking||Narine Beglaryanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Capital markets||Narine Beglaryanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Contracts||Narine Beglaryanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Corporate and M&A||Narine Beglaryanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Not-for-profit and charity||Narine Beglaryanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Labour and employment||Janna Simonyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Migration and citizenship||Janna Simonyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Public procurement and PPP||Artur Hovhannisyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Tax Law||Artur Hovhannisyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Administrative law and process||Artur Hovhannisyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Bankruptcy and Restructuring||Artur Hovhannisyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Criminal law defence||Hovhannes Khudoyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|White-collar crime and investigations||Hovhannes Khudoyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Renewable energy||Lilit Karapetyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Mining law||Lilit Karapetyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Environment||Lilit Karapetyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Family Law||Sofya Kharatyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
|Legal outsourcing of ongoing legal issues||Heghine Khachikyanemail@example.com||+374 60 278888|
|Corporate Secretary outsoursing||Heghine Khachikyanfirstname.lastname@example.org||+374 60 278888|
Staff FiguresPartners : 5 Attorneys : 18 Associates : 24
LanguagesArmenian English French Russian German
MembershipsTagLaw - worldwide alliance of independent law firms AmCham - American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia DWV - German Business Association in Armenia CCI FA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry France Armenia Nextlaw Global Referral Network ISFIN The International Chamber of Commerce
OtherContacts : Aram Orbelyan (senior partner) Contacts : Narine Beglaryan (partner) Contacts : Janna Simonyan (partner) Contacts : Artur Hovhannisyan (partner)
CLIENT: Roman Inozemtsev
TESTIMONIAL: Herewith, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the team of Concern Dialog lawyers and specifically to Aram Orbelyan and Janna Simonyan for their continuous professional support of our business operations in Armenia. Concern Dialog comprises a team of outstanding and creative lawyers who strive to provide practical legal solutions at the highest ethical standards. Ericsson has engaged Concern Dialog for numerous complex matters incl. Tax, Employment, Litigation, Personal Data protection, Compliance, etc. and was always happy about outcome of those. I highly recommend Concern Dialog law firm.
CLIENT: Irakli Sokolovski
COMPANY/FIRM: Evolution Gaming AB
TESTIMONIAL: Concern Dialog Law Firm (the “Firm”) is a long-standing legal counsel Evolution Gaming AB (publ). The Firm is advising the company on various issues related to the entry to and operations in the Armenian jurisdictions. The Firm’s services cover wide range of the issues from regulatory to contractual matters. Noteworthy is the assistance in the real estate issues. In this respect, the Firm has assisted with structuring and negotiating the major real estate transaction, as well as carried out a review of the complex litigation matters related to the certain real property. The Firm lawyers are efficient, knowledgeable, and always available to help. Narine Beglaryan is the leading lawyer and is highly regarded for her work.
We hereby strongly recommend the Concern Dialog Law Firm.
CLIENT: Yervand Hovhannisyan
COMPANY/FIRM: AB SADE JSC
TESTIMONIAL: We are pleased to inform you that Concern-Dialog CJSC is providing legal services to AB SADE JSC (Armenian Branch of SADE CGTH S.A.) for over two year period. Our company is operating in civil construction field, specialized in networks and utilities and most of the projects are regulated by FIDIC contracts with government agencies as Employers, funded by international organizations and mainly supervised by international engineering companies. Some of those projects resulted in disputes with Employers and other involved stockholders. We applied to Concern dialog first time in early 2019 when our HQ announced about closing of our branch. We had an internal audit for all unresolved issues and disputes and ordered CD to learn different cases of bad receivables from our partners and consortium members towards AB SADE. Currently we are in active stage of those cases with positive results and working on some other cases at the same time. Recently we applied again to CD with a new inquire for examining another government related project consequences, in particular delays with the closing of the contract and issuing of the performance certificated for completed works. During this two year cooperation we had also major and minor cases where different specialists from CD team were involved. We are always appreciating our partner’s high professionalism and attitude and feeling legally backed in our business activities. I want to underline our cooperation with Mrs. Narine Beglaryan for her invaluable and professional input as a focal point and main acting partner to our company.
CLIENT: Colin Chan
COMPANY/FIRM: Tammy Elizabeth Avansi
TESTIMONIAL: I hope that this letter finds you both and your respective families well. Grace is in Canada with Tammy and Alex and I am currently in Trinidad in a hotel where I have to quarantine for seven days before I can go to my home, then I will have to quarantine myself at home for a further seven days. I have some time to reflect on the events in Armenia and to express my thoughts. Our countries and people i.e. Trinidad & Armenia are so different that from where I sit and write these words to you the whole affair seems like a dream that took place in a different world and a different time. But in reality the story is not over and perhaps won’t be until Alex turns eighteen. I must admit that there were times when I thought that we were facing an insurmountable task and that the Armenian authorities were never going to let Alex return to Canada once his father kept up his attempts to keep him there. It was extremely difficult for Grace and I to see Tammy suffer at the hands of a totally misguided and unconscionable man who wanted to give the impression that Tammy was a bad mother and that he was saving his son who he “loved” from her. Grace and I are very thankful to you both for your compassion and understanding toward Tammy and us and thankful that you saw the truth of the matter from the start.It literally breaks our hearts when we think back to summer of 2018 when Tammy was refused visitation three times by the courts to see her son. This was extremely difficult for her and quite frankly the pain and grief that she felt was unbearable and it could have killed her were it not for the hope and support of the Concern Dialog team. I have often wondered what was judge Torosyan’s first impression of the case. Perhaps he saw an upstanding well spoken and articulate Armenian man from Canada who he could relate to and understand ( as they spoke the same language) and who could speak nothing else but the truth. On the other hand he may have seen Tammy as an outsider, a foreigner, a woman, who was trying to take a son away from an Armenian father. But however the judge saw the case it was clear that Narine would have an uphill battle on her hands especially given the culture, customs and traditions that she would have to go against. I want to state categorically that I was wrong in having doubts in the beginning that a female lawyer was up to such a gargantuan task in what we in the western world perceived as a male dominated society.But just as God sends bad people in your life to test you we believe that he also sends good people in your life to help you and we firmly believe that he sent Narine to help Tammy. I know that as lawyers you have to be objective, factual and business-like with your clients and at times it can be difficult to openly show compassion. But we always felt that Narine saw the truth in Tammy from the start and committed herself to right the injustice. The empathy and understanding that she showed to Tammy was greatly appreciated and went a long way to comfort Tammy in her distress. Narine’s meticulous attention to detail was remarkable as she always had a plan (b) and even a plan (c) if plan (a) did not work. She covered every angle that she could to ensure that decisions went in Tammy’s favour. She fought the battle like a true Armenian warrior and she will always be considered a hero in our family. Aram gave us hope. The Amicus Curae that he arranged may have been the key to the Court of Cassation acceptance of the Canadian Court Orders. You (Aram) always told us that the case was very important to you and that you were committed to win. I (Colin)know that I phoned and texted you a lot to vent my anxieties and frustrations. In spite of being very busy with other very important cases, you were always patient with me and continuously gave me hope that we were going to win our case. I am very grateful for all the effort that you put into the research and acquiring of other legal opinions. This case might be a first in Armenia i.e. the recognition of a foreign family court order and we certainly hope that it sets precedent for any future similar situations. We also hope that Concern Dialog gets the recognition that it deserves. I hope that letter can serve as testimony to the great work that you have done.Special thanks also goes out to Gagik for his selfless dedication to Tammy and Alex and by extension to Grace and myself. The first time that heard about Gagik was when Tammy told us that he had recorded Armen on the street, saying that he was not going to obey the court orders for visitation granted to Tammy. We thought that this was a pretty bold and amazing thing to do. It was comforting to us knowing that Gagik was fearless and that he would come to our assistance whenever we needed him. We also thank him for looking out for Tammy and Alex during the times that both Grace and I had to leave Armenia.I know this letter is long but before I end please allow me to say two points that I think are worth mention. As you know we Trinidadian/Canadians are used to living in a cosmopolitan society, so living in Armenia over the years was really a different experience for us. Armenia being mainly one race of people, it was noticeable to everyone whether on the street, in the supermarket, in hotels etc. that we were of different ethnicity and as a result we stood out. We realised from early on that wherever we went in Armenia that we were noticeable. People would see us and remember us. As a result of this, there was always the anxiety and fear that someone may recognise us and inform Armen or his lawyers of our location. However quite apart from this anxiety we were generally very comfortable with the Armenian people. No one ever disrespected or treated us badly in any way. People were very helpful, courteous and friendly and never made us feel alienated in any way. This to me says a lot about the Armenian people and made our stay much easier. I think that this is very important point to note especially in today’s world of terrible racial conflicts in so many countries. The other important point that I would like to say is that Alex will one day become a man. By that time he would have learnt and fully understood what happened in Armenia and the important role that you all would have played in his life as a child. It is my sincere wish when he is old enough that he would be able to thank you personally for the help and kindness that you gave to his mother and himself. To Seda, Sedrak, Hovannes, Sofia, Ani, and everyone else who helped Tammy and Alex we offer you our sincere thanks.
CLIENT: Avag Simonyan
COMPANY/FIRM: Gitnakani tun
TESTIMONIAL: “Gitnakani tun” LLC implements a project related to renovation and further development of a historic building in the city center of Yerevan, historically known as the House of Scientists (the project is currently pending due to COVID). Concern Dialog law firm was engaged at the initial stage of the project back in 2019 and provided excellent support in relation to structuring of the transaction, drafting and concluding underlying project documents and kick starting the project. This includes the establishment of the SPV for the purpose, drafting corporate documents securing the initial and follow-up shareholder funding, drafting project development and work contracts to be signed with the contractors, negotiating them and have them signed and implemented. The team has also provided us with support on our day-to-day activities of the firm and the management. Concern Dialog has succeeded in providing to the point and excellent advice that have always best served to our interests. Advise has mainly provided to us by Aram Orbelyan, Senior Partner, as well as Heghine Khachikyan and Lilit Karapetyan (both Senior Associates). The comprehensive experience of the firm has allowed us to get very specific and to the point advise, especially when it comes to real estate, heritage preservation, corporate law, tax and environmental impact related issues, as the team has deep knowledge and understanding on very narrow and sector-oriented issues.
CLIENT: Hakob Hakobyan
COMPANY/FIRM: Renaissance Cultural and Intellectual Foundation
TESTIMONIAL: We, at Renaissance Cultural and Intellectual Foundation, have had a long standing and impressive cooperation with Concern Dialog law firm. Our cooperation has commenced since 2017, when the foundation initiated a program for opening William Saroyan’s (world known Armenian-American novelist) House-Museum in Fresno, at the same time we also decided to merge then existing two foundations into one. Concern Dialog’s knowledgeable team has proven its excellent knowledge and experience within a number of issues that we have come across (and assisted to coordinate the work of the lawyers in California wherever the assistance was needed).What is particularly impressive about Concern Dialog’s team, is that they have managed to provide versatile support on various aspects of our activities and have professionally addressed any of our concerns regarding the legal implications thereof. They have covered issues starting from contractual and corporate matters, including drafting our main project agreements and leading the process of reorganization (merger) of the foundation. We have also found their advice and support on Intellectual Property law issues immensely helpful, as this is one of the most critical aspects of our activities with the house museum. The project of William Saroyan house museum is still ongoing, Concern Dialog assist us now with trademark and other IP related issues, including relationship with the Stanford University and William Saroyan foundation.We have worked with many of the specialists of the firm, including Sedrak Asatryan, Aram Orbelyan, Lilit Karapetyan and Harutyun Hovhannisyan. We continue using the services of the firm and are confident that they always provide services of the highest quality.
CLIENT: Arsen Harutyunyan
COMPANY/FIRM: Startup Armenia Foundation
TESTIMONIAL: Startup Armenia Foundation was established in March 2016 with its main goal of contributing to the development of startup ecosystem in Armenia. The foundation has initiated a series of projects designed to support startups in different stages of development, as well as, periodically organized events, where startups have an opportunity to present their projects, get support from the foundation and integrate to the startup ecosystem. Among projects organized by our foundation are the Seaside Startup Summit, Startup Clubs, etc.We have had a positive experience working with the team of Concern Dialog law firm since 2017. Concern Dialog’s professional team has provided comprehensive and thorough legal support to us: such support has varied from consultancy on major projects and complex transactions to day-to-day assistance to our activities. As we work with start-ups in different areas, legal issues at stake each time are usually novel as well. The team of Concern Dialog was always easy to explain the issues, and receive comprehensive feedback and consulting be it contract law or data protection, product producer responsibility to Intellectual Property protection and many others. We have successfully cooperated with a number of specialists from the Company, including Sedrak Asatryan, Aram Orbelyan, Lilit Karapetyan, Harutyun Hovhannisyan and others. We can confidently state that the lawyers at this firm are true professionals: our cooperation has proven that this is a team of strong and reliable specialists who have always found the best legal solution for any issues and obstacles that have arisen in the course of our activities.
CLIENT: Hovhannes Grigoryan
TESTIMONIAL: Breavis has started cooperation with Concern Dialog Law Firm since 2015. Along this way, Concern Dialog has proven to be an excellent partner both in terms of professional service deliveries and in Concern Dialog assisted Breavis with a wide range of legal services, such as legal documents monitoring and revision, due diligence, provision of consulting and negotiation with clients, outsourced agencies, and state institutions when needed.Particularly, we are delighted with their consultancy in the sphere of labor law, legal support in HR management. Throughout the years, Concern Dialog assisted us in solving several structural issues in those spheres, which eased the operations and inter-corporate relations. We would like to express our gratitude to the heads of Concern Dialog (Mr. Sedrak Asatyan and Mr. Aram Orbelyan) and their efficient team, highlighting particularly our pleasure working with professional and experienced attorneys as Ms. Narine Beglaryan and Ms. Lilit Karapetyan, who are leading experts in their field and have a significant contribution to the development of the legal sphere in Armenia. We hereby recommend Concern Dialog Law Firm as one of the best legal advisory service providers in Armenia.
CLIENT: Lilit Yeghizaryan
COMPANY/FIRM: Dexatel Armenian brancհ
TESTIMONIAL Dexatel Armenian branch is an IT company with the staff of local employees. Concern Dialog has been assisting us with mostly employment law related matters.Concern Dialog drafted and implemented for various internal acts such as the Leave Policy, Internal Disciplinary Rules, Confidentiality Policy. Managing Partner of Concern Dialog Mr. Sedrak Asatryan personally provides training of staff as regards to our company’s policies and rules. The firm supports us with the hiring and firing of staff including mediation related thereto. We are highly satisfied with the services provided in particularly by Mr. Sedrak Asatryan’s and Mrs. Janna Simonyan’s professional approach and impact of the latter on development of internal regulation and working environment of our firm.
Pro bono cases are an essential part of the Concern Dialog Law Firm’s activities. One of our core values is the belief that everyone has the right to protection of their fundamental rights and freedoms. The firm, on a pro bono basis, annually supports several cases for vulnerable groups. The coverage of pro bono cases includes all the fields that Concern Dialog practices.
Our focus is primarily on cases of violation of fundamental human rights. Also, we support clients on pro bono cases in areas where the firm has the most experienced and established practice, primarily outside of pure business law areas (like labour law for employees, start-ups, public and general administrative law). For example, one of the latest pro bono cases concerns protecting the interests of 9 employees who, we claim, were fired illegally due to expressing their opinion. This case is personally handled by the managing partner of the company Sedrak Asatryan.
In our pro bono practice, in addition to assisting clients who are unable to pay (or to pay fully) for legal services, we also aim to improve the legal field and eliminate gaps in legislation.
A successful example in this regard is the protection of an IT start-up company’s interests, which was denied a license to carry out certain activities. The reason was the gap in the legal system. The criteria for issuing the needed license were not specified. As a result of this legal case, the gap in the legal system was corrected.
Our team is actively engaged in legislative and judicial reform processes. The lawyers of Concern Dialog reviewed the relevant drafts, participating in public consultations, providing opinions within these processes, and undertaking studies by their initiative to find the shortcomings and suggest solutions.
Besides, Concern Dialog’s lawyers lecture at universities in Armenia and the Justice Academy, the Chamber of Advocates and the School of Advocates of Armenia, sharing their experience and knowledge with the new generation of lawyers.
Sedrak Asatryan, Managing Partner
What do you see as the main points that differentiate Concern Dialog Law Firm from your competitors?
• Professional, qualified and constantly self-developing team֊ we believe that our main asset is our team and we approach this issue in a systemic and institutional matter.
Firstly, we conduct the process of hiring via several steps – CV revision, and rigorous shortlisting, several rounds of interview by the committee composed of partners by a unanimous decision, and intensive onboarding training and three-month probation. This procedure is applied to hiring lawyers of all levels. The above mentioned way of recruitment looks standard to many of our foreign colleagues, but it is yet to become a standard in Armenia.
Secondly, we believe that hiring talent is only the first step. We conduct constant additional training of the team, in addition to compulsory pieces of training conducted by the Chamber of advocates. Day-to-day professional training enables our specialists to be competitive in the current legal environment. Qualified specialists are associated with appropriate support and encouragement to undertake relevant continuing vocational education and to develop their personal and professional skills. Practical weekly discussions on service quality issues and ethics is another dimension of ensuring a high-level of service by the firm.
Thirdly, we intensively cooperate with educational institutions (universities and the school of advocates), to help assist the younger generation with legal work and become well prepared lawyers, and we use this as a source to identify talent early on. Collaboration with the organisation of law clinics, support of the moot courts, lecturing and giving of ad hoc trainings in the universities provide opportunity to students to practice skills like interviewing, contract drafting, legal research, legal analysis, transaction planning and management, application of substantive law to client-specific problems, client counselling, client communication and business writing, and oral and visual presentation skills.
• Concern Dialog is one of the first law firms (if not the first) in Armenia who has a real partner path for the employees. The associate’s productivity level, teamwork, continuous and constant development allows them to move up the career ladder and consequently become partners. 3 out of 4 existing partners have started their career in the firm as associates. The process is continuous, and is a real incentive for the younger lawyers to pursue the highest standard within the firm, while ensuring client satisfaction and firm growth (Concern Dialog is the most prominent firm in Armenia now – has grown from a small boutique firm with one partner in 2003-2007 to now 60 lawyers, and the growth is continuing, including exploring new areas of practice and industries, as well as developing more in-depth knowledge in existing areas of practice).
• Implementation of new technological and managerial solutions, constant improvement of the efficiency, while keeping up with the highest quality and information security standards. The firm is always keen to implement and use emerging technologies accessible to the budget and size. More details are provided below in question 4, but in general, in my opinion, we can be considered the most technologically advanced firm in Armenia (if not in the region).
We were one of the first entities in Armenia to use Dropbox back in 2009 when the latter was still in the initial phase and moved to more complicated solutions in parallel to the development and growth of the firm. We tried and used numerous time tracking, case-management, task and project management solutions, aimed at improving collaboration within the firm, and raising the efficiency of the work, while still always paying particular attention to security and confidentiality (even within the firm). Also, from the beginning (at least since the early 2000’s when I purchased the firm and became the managing partner) we paid special attention not to use any non-licensed (counterfeit) software, a thing which was very strange those days. After the SaaS solutions became more widely used, we moved to G Suite and Office 365 suites to be able to always have the most recent version of the software with all the security patches and capabilities.
Now, we are in the process of the full implementation of Blackberry Workspaces and other related BB solutions for secure collaboration and communication, and will be implementing comprehensive endpoint device management solutions, which is not very common in Armenia as well (many attorneys still use a general email address, or use a simple mail client from a shared hosting). In parallel, we are developing our software pieces to make different pieces/solutions work together, including specialised time tracking solution (toggl), note-taking app (Google Keep, Evernote or others), email (Gsuite), documents (google docs and Microsoft office), billing solutions, accounting solutions and some others.
In addition to general IT solutions in specific areas, we are investing heavily in the development of necessary software. For example, since 2010 (when we decided to enter into debt collection and NPL management services market), we developed and continuously improved our custom-made software, enabling us to scale the services practically limitless, while not losing control over the process. We work with state-owned e-gov solutions (e.g. electronic register of legal entities) to enable applications and document exchange with the system in a simplified (automated) manner, and now exploring possibilities to connect to e-justice system and have information and document exchange with the courts.
We are not yet able to invest enough in AI, machine learning and distributed ledgers (blockchain), and we are also continually exploring the possibility of implementing these and new technologies with start-ups and established IT firms within different platforms where we are active.
I believe the IT solutions implemented in the firm allows us to be more competitive and be able to provide faster, more cost-efficient and higher quality services.
• In comparison with many other firms, given the size, IT solutions and deeper specialisation, we have formed very strong and professional litigation, dispute resolution, bankruptcy and criminal law practice teams. Many firms in the market (at least ones working with foreign investors and international clients) would mostly concentrate on transactional and consulting business, with very limited to no litigation and criminal law practice. Most of the strong litigators and criminal defence attorneys are not used to work with major international clients, also do not have a strong command of foreign languages. Our team continues to develop a reliable transactional team (especially in telecommunications, mining, energy, construction and development areas, in PPP and related issues).
At the same time, we have developed robust and specialised litigation practice since 2006-2007. Two of our team members, senior partner Aram Orbelyan and counsel Artur Hovhannisyan were directly engaged in the development of the new civil procedure code and arbitration and mediation legislation in the past as deputy ministers of justice. The firm annually handles around 60 significant/substantial civil and commercial cases, several major multimillion-dollar bankruptcy cases as well as numerous smaller cases. Since 2011, we further started developing our criminal law practice by providing services to both the victims (mostly corporate clients against the fraudulent directors and competitors) and the victims. Now
our team is defending clients in several high-level criminal cases (including the ex-president of Armenia). Our criminal defence team is exceptionally efficient in white-collar crime and other interdisciplinary issues, who are able to obtain guidance from the tax law, competition law specialists, experts in mining, construction etc., which enables them to find solutions for the most complicated matters (unfortunately the institute of independent and “humanly speaking” forensic experts is not very well developed in Armenia).
• Good command of foreign languages and diversity. We believe that a diverse educational background, knowledge of comparative law and international legal concepts, good command of foreign language and acquaintance with foreign cultures make the overall team stronger and together with internal exchange and communications tools, make us capable solving the most complex legal issues. In addition to Armenian, we provide services (or at least receive and share information) in English, Russian, French, German languages. One of the new members is fluent in Arabic, and we are always open to having new employees with a different educational and cultural background (we have lawyers who have graduated from universities from four different countries, and even more regions and universities in Armenia). Our young associates are unified by their interest and passion in law. Practically all of them have participated in different national and international moot courts, and have their civic position on a number of pressing issues with high universal values including equality, environmental friendliness, high ethical standards and integrity, no tolerance to corruption and illegal conduct, and are keen to further develop their knowledge.
• Known as experts in solving unsolvable problems– Concern Dialog’s attorneys are recognised as experts in solving unsolvable problems using mental, analytical, creative and legal approaches and skills.
• Implementation of professional liability insurance – We are one of the first companies who implemented professional liability insurance (up to 1 mln Euro). Professional liability insurance is not typical to the Armenian market (and familiar to many western markets), and we plan to increase the coverage and make it more tailored for our services.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
A couple of years ago, the volume of transactional work was decreasing (given the change in government and revolutionary rhetoric), while the litigation and criminal law work has increased. I believe in the next 1-2 years the following areas are going to increase, and some of them are delayed demand due to the last two years limited activities.
• Criminal law / criminal defence. Criminal law practice is increasing exponentially, as after the change of the government many criminal cases are being investigated (some of the real ones, some of them politically motivated one), but in any case the need for highly skilled criminal law teams is in high demand. In addition to the general increase of demand, we are now also increasing our team for mid-level cases with elements of automatisation and case management, which should allow us to provide services with mid-market pricing still being able to ensure the necessary level of service and the quality. We expect the practice to increase by at least 50 per cent next year.
• International arbitration. The last 2 -3 years were positive for the arbitration law practising lawyers. Two ICSID cases are in process, several others being in the process of the announcement. In addition to this several contracts based major arbitrations are taking place (with or without the participation of the state), including ICC and UNCITRAL arbitrations. We are engaged in two ongoing cases for Armenia and expect to be able to represent the clients at least in 1-2 more arbitrations next year. Besides we believe that the arbitration would be more common also for the complicated domestic disputes, as more suitable dispute resolution solution for specific cases (construction and development, complicated work contracts, IP law issues, as well as any transboundary disputes).
• Family law issues (including child abduction and other transboundary family law disputes). With the increase of global mobility, unfortunately, there are more cases of child abduction to and from Armenia, many transboundary divorce and separation, child custody, common property claims. We believe that these sections will be increasing in the coming years, as some of the new regulations of the civil procedure code (specific procedure on the application of the Hague Convention on child abduction, new rules on the recognition and enforcement of the foreign court decision, including interim measures and preliminary orders, which are now being considered in the courts and the practice shall be clear shortly adding predictability in the cases).
• Corporate law, investment structuring, corporate governance, regulatory. Given some suspension in investment activities, we expect in the next 1-2 years to have some inflow of investment, which means they’ll advise on corporate law issues – from the company registration to more complicated structuring of investment, shaping internal management structures etc. The above mentioned would also involve support with due diligence checks, including regulatory issues (banking, energy, telecommunications and media, development and construction, IT sector including IP issues and some others).
• Competition/antitrust law. After the change in the Government, the new Government has declared to be fighting the monopolies more rigorously. Besides, the competition legislation is being continuously amended to address new global developments and match the best international practices. At the same time, the Eurasian Economic Union has some jurisdiction on transboundary competition issues, which are yet to be explored, and we expect a substantial increase in competition law practice as well. All this makes us believe that the competition law practice (both on the competitor-competitor dimension and state-private company dimensions) will develop.
In this regard, we need to be more efficient to be able to provide high quality full-service legal services at a moderate cost, while also protecting our profitability and ensuring proper remuneration for our professionals.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
• Concern Dialog is one of the highly regarded firms on the market, which also means we are one of the expensive firms (yet not the most expensive) and most suitable for complicated matters where many other lawyers may be limited to assist. For this segment, we are implementing internal management and collaboration solutions to bring the costs of the client down, and the process of improvement is constant, here we follow the kaizen model and Toyota way of management.
• In addition to improvements within the existing products, we are now getting ready to launch (in the first half of the next year) a mid-market service for day-to-day support for small to medium businesses on their corporate and ongoing contract and labour law issues under a separate trademark (DeLex) mostly by moderate monthly fixed fee arrangement. This would enable more companies to use our services while still allowing us to keep the profitability of the business by using technology and innovative management solutions more heavily.
• Another direction of development is developing more sector/client group-oriented services. We have enacted a unique pricing scheme for start-ups (monthly rather small fee with extended billing in case of success with a premium for the start-ups we believe are useful and with good chances to success). Under start-ups, we not only understand the IT sector, but practically all areas of new businesses with innovative ideas (although mostly IT or IT enabled start-ups).
• Given the size of the firm and its continuous increase, we also formalised our internal anti-corruption, data protection, privacy policies and made them more specific and detailed. In addition to adopting the relevant policies, we started constant weekly or bi-monthly pieces of training on ethical and professional issues for our team, to make sure the principles are part of the company and personal culture as well as the team is updated with the most recent developments in legislation and court and administrative practice. All this is
giving results and further improving the quality of the services via increase in internal collaboration and increasing the efficiency and bringing down the bills.
• Also, last year, we implemented professional liability insurance for the first time for one mln Euro coverage and are considering increasing the coverage in the coming years.
• And finally, we are actively engaged in international legal and consulting firm networks (TagLaw, NextLaw, ISFIN) and deepening the cooperation within the networks to be able to provide services to our client worldwide. When joining the networks, we were expected use (if mostly) for inbound support, but now we use them for outbound services in different areas (we already provided criminal law support in Spain, commercial litigation support in France, transactional support in several multijurisdictional cases in Europe,
support in China and Latin America and the geography is expanding). The membership and active
participation of the team members in the network event allow us to know the colleagues personally and provide more personalised services to our clients.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients and the services you can provide them?
As indicated above, we are enabling more technologically enhanced services from year-to-year. The direct interaction with our clients has not changed much, but the implementation of the technology still has a substantial impact on the quality of services and bills.
Better collaboration within the team and the ability to work more efficiently is allowing us to bring the bill down substantially (for some cases by 20-30 per cent), while ensuring the same or higher quality and accuracy of the provided services. Further enactment of e-justice solutions by the judiciary and linking our services with the system, will allow us to act faster and to ensure the timing of the overall service provision (including litigation, company registration, DD checks and other related services) becomes even shorter.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
We undertake the assignment and agree to provide services only when we see the ability to create added value. In addition to general litigation practice (where the value is created by finding innovative solutions, including comparative law perspectives into complicated, previously not litigated issues), below are some more standard cases where we supported the client to create value.
• One of our clients, a major mining company, was having a significant problem with a labour law issue. Many of the employees who were dismissed were filing suits against the company and due to procedural reasons, they were successful in many cases. The client then decided to retain Concern Dialog to support the litigation. After review of the presented claims we found out that, although in most of the cases the grounds for dismissal were present, the suits were grounded as the referred to the breach of the procedures of termination, which was happening due to operations of the HR department not being fully systematised and organised consistently (with elements of automatisation). We managed to close most of those cases amicably. Also we suggested to concentrate on prevention of the issue and based on that we worked with the client to a) undertake full due diligence of the labour law issues and rectify any shortcomings (the labour contracts, but also other internal procedures), and b) to establish with their HR department a more straight forward and quasi-automatised process set on dealing with disciplinary issues, which resulted in a considerable decreased number of suites with almost 90% success rates in those remaining cases for the client.
• Or another example, we worked with many clients in labour law to enact an alternative work time calculation mechanisms, which was corresponding to the reality (in many cases they were filling in 8 hours daily, although the employees were working longer in some days and had day-offs or were working shorter on other days, which is bases for the monetary claims for overtimes). The summary time calculation mechanisms are foreseen in the legislation and implemented correctly, allowed the client to have more accurate attendance lists and decrease the litigation risk without additional cost.
• Clients also strive to find reputable, cost-efficient and reliable firms abroad. Our membership in several networks and active participation in events allows us to introduce foreign stable and reputable firms to our
clients, who then successfully work with or without our guidance (if Armenian law issues were at hand or if they required our general direction). I have described some examples above.
• Yet another example of such support: one of our clients and NGO was seeking to establish a management structure which was logical and extensively used abroad NGO’s (connected with the appointment of the director by the board not by the general meeting, which is problematic for bigger organisations). The national legislation was not flexible in this regard, and the solution was not possible to elaborate within the existing legislation. We prepared draft amendments and a comparative law memo, and worked on the issue with the relevant Parliament committee. Our lobby efforts were needed to adopt amendments to the law enabling standard solution successfully, the related changes in the legislation entered into force, and the appropriate amendments to the charter of the organisation were approved and registered afterwards. Many NGO’s now use this regulation in their management regulations.
• One of our clients approached us with an assignment to exercise a share put option via court process or somehow to secure the return of investment (mostly aimed at a court process). The put option (and options
in general) are not very common in Armenia and are not known to the practice (court or administrative). After the review of the situation and initial discussion with the counteragent, we suggested trying to find a way out via negotiations and maybe mediation, as we saw that the dispute was possible to solve amicably. Despite the company and shareholders threatening to dispute all the investment deals including security agreements in the Armenian court, we were able to negotiate an out of court settlement supported with the conclusion of the transfer agreement. We managed to secure the return of the investment and avoid lengthy litigation with some degree of uncertainty.
• One of our clients has distributed a production line to one of the most significant dietary (food) producers in Armenia with a delayed payment condition. Our client was negotiating for the payment, but fruitless. They engaged us to deal with the issue, and as the agreement foresaw an arbitration agreement, we initiated an arbitration. The other party was again silent, which meant the process of forming the tribunal was taking some time. In parallel we were following the developments around this producer, whose financial situation was continually getting worse. The story was in the news, and as the employees were claiming they are not paid for several months it became clear that the situation was becoming bothersome. At the moment when it became clear the owner was trying to take out the assets from the company, we advised our client to immediately initiate a bankruptcy process to make sure we appointed an interim administrator and ensure the delivered equipment (which by law is pledged) was not disappearing. We managed timely to initiate a bankruptcy process, to ensure the equipment was listed in the inventory and kept in security and managed to sell it to the interested buyer to cover the remaining amount of the debt, legal and bankruptcy costs. Any delay (we believe even by couple of days) may have.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
• We are keen to keep up with the current service level and increase it, by further enlarging areas of practice and deepening the knowledge and skills of team members in areas like competition law, corporate law and corporate governance, litigation and arbitration, regulatory matters, GR and PPP regulations and others.
• We are now increasing our criminal law team by improving the team’s specialisation in areas like white-collar crime while keeping up with general criminal law practice. We expect to increase the practice by at least 50 per cent (preferably double) in the next year.
• We expect our new brand – DeLex is functional – giving SME’s ability to use our more standardised services and use our litigation and administrative representation services at a discounted price while keeping the profitability level. This democratisation will allow us to cover more segment and be accessible for more considerable clients.
• And finally, we plan (maybe not next year but in a visible future) to establish an internal network in Armenia to be able to provide faster and cheaper services in Armenia. We now offer services nationwide, but this
means the lawyers have to travel for the court hearings or to be present during the inspections. Establishment of offices in some other locations in Yerevan, will bring the services closer to the clients and make the response time shorter, where necessary, as well as further decreasing the bills for the projects in the regions.
To summarise, we believe in keeping up with the top tier firm quality and become one of the most renowned and technology-enhanced firms in the region with the further possibility of establishing offices outside of Armenia (Georgia, Russia, Eastern Europe). We’ll continue to expand our networks and provide multidisciplinary, global solutions to our clients by combining different perspectives, multi-staffed legal services to individuals, small businesses, large corporations and international organisations.