Interview with: Atanas Valov, Associate Partner

Penkov, Markov & Partners | View firm profile

Associate Partner Atanas Valov comments on the challenges of Bulgaria’s legal market in the year ahead

What do you see as the main points that differentiate [law firm name] from your competitors?

Penkov, Markov & Partners is a renowned brand on the Bulgarian legal market (this year we are celebrating 30 years from our establishing). During the years we have created a name for innovation and dedicated approach to the problems of the clients, diversity of services, strong support of entrepreneurship and investors including via participation in the legislation process, as well as constant defense of the rule of law and its principles in the courts, where we have represented throughout the years a number of clients whose rights have been violated by acts of the public authorities incompatible with the Constitution, EU Law and the ECHR. We have a competitive advantage from the mix of generations in the firm, with the experience, wisdom and organizational skills of the founders of the company supporting my generation’s eagerness to expand our market shares and presence and strong wish to prove our own merit as the persons before us.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Our Data Protection and AML practices will definitely continue their expansion as these spheres become more and more important worldwide in the light of the new legislation and continuous measures of the governments to reduce and prevent money laundering. With some strong new additions to our PPP, Energy and Litigation departments in the end of 2019 and first half of 2020 we have reasonable expectations for strengthening and expanding our practices in these spheres as well, whereby a significant driver for our Litigation practice was the newly formed practice of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court on matters regarding the “constitutional tort”, which led to breakthrough in the decades old practice of the Bulgarian courts and acknowledgment of the positions we have stood for in the past 5 years or so.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

As organization we are constantly evolving, whereby in the latest months a strong emphasis was put on the organization of smoother distant communication between team members and possibilities for effective home office, as well as additional coordination with our working groups in order their members to become even more interchangeable. Also, we have formed specific teams dealing with the constant changes in the legislation in the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as reformed our communication to the clients concerning any hot topics that might affect their business and increased its volume and specific highlights quite drastically.

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

Absolutely. And this became all the more evident during the months of 2020 when Bulgaria was in a state of emergency. The constant Zoom meetings and webinars hosted by us on various topics and forums became a new standard for fast and interactive communication with our client base and for updating them on the dynamic changes in may spheres.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

As my core activity is the ADR and litigation, these are not strictly legal branches that accumulate “added value” for a business. But we always strive to give practical and business-oriented advice to our clients on these matters in order to optimize their costs and give them a fair evaluation of the potential gain at the end of a court trial against the benefits of a settlement under certain conditions before the trial or through it.

Our AML, Data Protection, Consumer Protection and Competition teams constantly work with clients advising on the structuring of their advertising messages, promotions and sales policies, relations with partners and employees, so we ensure not only the regulatory compliance of our clients, but also give them a valuable side glimpse on the markets they are operating and what might or might not work given our extensive history of deals, disputes, ups and downs of businesses in different economic situations.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Definitely, the clients look for diverse advice on the development of their activity and long-term relationships with reliable partner in the face of their law firm. So, we aim at establishing long-lasting partnerships with our clients, whereby some of our core ones are with us more than 15-20 years already. As I said above, we are also in constant evolution and that impacts a lot of our practices, the way we engage the modern technology for facilitation of our work and the expansion of our activities in new and fast developing sectors through seminars, webinars, simulations of dawn raids, audit of the internal processes of our clients and activity in the legislation process through the NGO sector and the commercial chambers. Thus, our vision in 3 years’ time is one of a diverse legal practice, following the best international standards and forging its own ones, where practitioners from several generations co-exist in a creative and stimulating environment and where we are even stronger factor and continue to be recognized as one of the pillars of protection of the investments of foreign and local entities and avid fighters for the principles of rule of law and safeguarding of the legitimate interests of the private sector in its dialogue with the State.