What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?
The greatest achievement is my team and where we are now. Previously a leading national team, in 2009, after joining forces with the major UK law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and creating Goltsblat BLP, we began offering the market a totally new and unique legal capability. It proved to be a success from the very beginning and, over recent years, has become a top-tier international law firm in Russia. Out team has won Law Firm of the Year in Russia five times since 2009.
What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?
We are local international counsel for our clients, this making us different from others. As one of the first companies to provide comprehensive legal support to multinational clients in Russia, we have accumulated unique practical experience based on a profound understanding of all the nuances of Russia’s legal, fiscal, business and political reality.
Over the last 20 years, we have assisted multinational companies with projects in different Russian regions. We are proud that we are continuing to provide most of those clients with day-to-day legal support.
Our enthusiasm, resources, practical experience, client-orientated approach, knowledge of Russian laws, regional specifics, local culture and investor mentality, authorities’ expectations, social, economic and political processes are a massive advantage over the competition and a completely different offering.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
If you start something, strive to be the best in the field – that is my principle in life. Following this principle, no matter what I have undertaken, I have always endeavoured to do it well and professionally. Generally, I believe anyone can be successful and gain recognition in any profession. You just need to work hard.
Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?
My career as a commercial lawyer began in 1993, after I quit my job as Head of Staff of the Constitutional Commission, when Boris Yeltsin (Russia’s first President) dismissed the Russian Parliament. That year, bold foreign investors were seeking legal support in Russia. One of them was Mars, Inc., which desperately needed support for constructing a confectionery plant. I was introduced to them by their UK lawyers and tasked with making a land deal with the local Mayor for building the plant. They had been negotiating six months without achieving any visible progress, so I stepped in. The UK law-governed lease they were negotiating was poorly translated into Russian and made no sense to the Mayor, so they had got stuck. This was my first experience as a commercial lawyer and I didn’t have a clue about land leases, but I delved into Russia’s Land Code and drafted a six-page lease; in two weeks, the deal was done. I realised I could become a commercial lawyer, as this was a huge success for my client. The venture was launched and brought me to where I am today. Mars is still a major client of ours and it eventually purchased that land and now holds the title to it .
Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?
Among the biggest challenges I would mention: the unpredictable political and economic situation, the second wave of sanctions and drop in investment activity. Even so, we are both pragmatic and calm in our approach to all the changes and always seek any new opportunities they might offer.