fivehundred magazine > Interview with: Bougartchev and Moyne > Independence, liberty, flexibility, and creativity

Independence, liberty, flexibility, and creativity

The co-founders of Bougartchev Moyne Associés explain why they left ‘Big Law’ to launch their own Paris-based litigation boutique

Kiril, Emmanuel, how would you define your firm’s culture?

Firm culture is essential to us. After 30 and 20 years, respectively, of professional practice at international law firms, we chose to create in January 2017 an ambitious business litigation boutique with a strong white-collar crime focus where lawyers – 15 as of today – combine the culture of major international law firms, of which they all come from, with more independence, liberty, flexibility and creativity. These are Bougartchev Moyne Associés’ hallmarks. In this respect, we are pretty unique in the French market.

In launching the firm, what’s the main change you’ve made that will benefit clients?

We are now fully independent in the development of our activity. Working in international law firms means regularly facing commercial conflicts issues that prevented us from taking instructions, even from our long-time clients. Moreover, a lot of other international law firms were reluctant to seek our assistance. This is no longer the case.

Being no longer attached to the network of our previous firms also allowed us to continue the development of a dynamic international network in various jurisdictions. Bougartchev Moyne Associés is a French law firm, based in Paris, but we act in numerous cases with a cross-border element and often involving one or more foreign jurisdictions.

We are very often appointed by French or foreign colleagues, from international or from boutique firms, to defend the interests of their clients together. We are also frequently appointed to select firms within the above mentioned network as well as to coordinate the work of said firms.

What are the biggest challenges facing firms of your size and specialism in France and across EMEA?

The biggest challenge for a local specialised firm is obviously its cross border reach. As our previous firms had no international white-collar crime coverage, we had already developed a strong and reactive international network. Since our opening, we took time to strengthen it. That is what we are currently doing by visiting talented colleagues around the world. Having worked notably in the context of urgent matters which required to have lawyers acting in three continents at the same time while being coordinated from Paris, we know that this is a fundamental need for us.

What do you think are the top three things most clients want and why?

Clients want to have the best legal service for the best price at any time.

Besides, our clients want us to be their real partners, not just their lawyers and they expect from us, at the same time, pragmatism (quickly identify the procedural and strategic options that are available to them) and innovation (they want us to be creative and promote innovative solutions).

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Technology obviously facilitates interaction with our French and foreign clients and that is much appreciable. However, we would say that the major issue with respect to technology and the changes it implies in the way we interact with our clients is confidentiality.

To ensure the utmost degree of confidentiality and to ensure that the same standards will be applied by all providers of services whom we engaged (such as other counsel, experts, translators, accountants, etc.), we combine technology-based and in-house solutions.

We are also very active in various lawyers’ organisations to exchange on the subject of legal privilege with our colleagues from around the world.

From another perspective, technology is an even growing source of fraud. We are therefore also very active to assist our clients in the cybercrime world.

How has your role/involvement in client-facing work changed since taking on larger management responsibilities?

The partners are active on all cases and structure an appropriate team in which the client is the concern of all. More precisely, depending on its complexity, each matter is managed by one (or two) partner(s), assisted by one (or several) associate(s).

The partners keep a close watch on each matter, at each step of the proceedings, ensuring that the firm’s style and strategy – which is a strong distinctive mark for us on the market – is always carefully crafted, with the help of the associates assisting them in the day-to-day conduct of the matter.

The firm’s lawyers are accustomed to working together and the younger lawyers acquire immediate responsibilities, which is more cost efficient for the clients.

What do you believe is the best way to retain talent?

The traditional partnership structure in major international law firms struggles. The number of new partners decreases from year to year. Partners in place will often have no other choice than let senior associates go, whatever training they have been provided with and however talented they are.

This is not our approach. Our policy is to promote all lawyers’ talents within an open organisation in which the transmission of knowledge and expertise is an essential value.

We are already a strong team for a white-collar crime boutique but we will continue to grow.

Since founding Bougartchev Moyne Associés, what’s surprised you most about running your own firm?

Founding and running your own law firm is a big challenge. We received a warm response from our clients and colleagues. This is very rewarding as well as demanding.

We are constantly thinking about our potential developments and meeting both with our long-time clients and new ones as well as with our colleagues around the world who give us multiple new areas of improvement. This is what makes us enthusiastic every day.

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