Report on conference “Legal services market: current trends”, organised by the “Vedomosti” newspaper in association with the law firm “S&K Vertikal”

21 December 2009

The first St.-Petersburg conference was held on November, 26, 2009, which gathered directors of major law firms of St.-Petersburg and aimed at discussing current trends at the legal services market, highlighting problematic issues and way forward.

The conference was opened by contribution made by Sergey Slagoda, Senior Associate of the legal firm "S&K Vertical"entitled “Mergers and divisions of law firms: current trends”.

Sergey Slagoda exemplified cases from international and domestic practice of mergers/divisions of legal firms, stated his views on how crisis exerts influence on these processes, he also told about division of the law firm “Zeleny Koridor” of which Sergey Slagoda was partner. Presentation of report sliyaniya i razdeleniya.pdf

Next contributor was Egor Noskov, the managing partner of the law firm “Duvernoix Legal”, who also spoke in the capacity of conference chairman. In his report entitled “Specifics of building law business in Russia” Egor Noskov has cited his observations of processes talking place in the Russian law business. Modest quantity of market players, low qualification of human resources, non-transparency and lack of proper regulation in many issues has lead him to the conclusion that there are law firms and no law business in St.-Petersburg.

“Why do clients and legal advisers disagree?” – such was the subject of contribution of Sergey Spasenov, the director of Petersburg office of the law firm “Pepelyaev, Goltsblat and partners”. He has observed that Clients, as a rule, are dissatisfied with two things: the output and the invoiced amount. This being said, the market is low as it is, and his colleagues offer services at cut price. Sergey Spasenov brought into focus the absence of effective community of lawyers able to discuss and solve shared problems.

The discourse made by Artem Zhavoronkov, partner at the Salans international law firm entitled “Interaction of corporate lawyers and outside legal advisers” contained the pros and cons of such interaction, and also cited the reasons behind necessity of cooperation, notably: working in multiple jurisdictions; using experience and knowledge in areas where an adviser has an edge; having a knowledge of local language and culture.

Vladimir Romanovsky, the director of “Entrepreneurship Institute” related “Legal services of a multibusiness company” to the audience, as exemplified by operation of his company.

According to him, multibusiness nature of a consulting company is a competitive edge at providing legal services. Vladimir Romanovsky also touched upon a subject of regulation in law business.

In his report on the subject of “Package solution for clients” Ilya Nikiforov, the managing partner of the St.-Petersburg law bureau “Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasyev & partners” told about new forms of interaction of clients and advisers. Flexible payment systems and new formats of services, fixed prices for wholesale customers and more attention paid to regular customers. Ilya Nikiforov is positive that the ability to look at services from the client's perspective and to work more effectively is a guarantee of top position in the market.

The next contributor – Inna Vavilova, the managing partner of the consulting group “PrimeAdvice” - has made a presentation on the subject of “Most profitable categories of legal services”. She believes that one should expect an increase in demand for legal services in the area of anti-trust legislation and class actions, divorce suits and environmental claims, and in the area of intellectual property as well.

The speech made by Vladislav Zabrodin, managing partner of Capital Legal Services on the subject of “Legal career in the modern structure of society” brought the conference to a close. The inefficiency of public management and weakness of professional community highly influence development of the legal services market. Should the long-range objectives rank in priority with the short-range objectives and should the work be done to rule and transparently, the climate on the Russian legal services market shall improve.

Such conference, being the first-of-its-kind, can become a permanent site for communication and exchange of views between major law firms of St.-Petersburg. A shared vision of many crucial issues may be generated there and this will certainly influence a shared sense and definition of values in our business, and also a shared understanding of interaction with clients when providing legal services. Interaction between the legal community and the state is an important step towards a civilised market of legal services. We, the practicing lawyers, should initiate such communication, since we have a stake in playing a transparent game.

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