While Ukrainian law firms have to deal with issues ranging from power outages to effective work distribution, their intellectual property, tax, labor, and corporate law practices remain relatively busy, according to Baker McKenzie Managing Partner Serhiy Piontkovsky.
"For nearly a year now, Ukraine has been suffering from the Russian invasion," Piontkovsky begins. "This has had a significant impact on the country's economy, businesses, and legal market."
"Law firms, similarly to our citizens and businesses, experienced power interruptions as a result of intentional actions taken by Russian forces," he notes. "These forces aimed to disrupt the normal functioning of the country by causing widespread power outages. However, to combat these attempts, we took the proactive step of installing diesel generators and Wi-Fi systems to provide a steady and reliable source of power, even in the face of these malicious attempts to induce blackouts."
"Furthermore, we see lawyers actively participating in a global initiative to relocate individuals and their families," Piontkovsky continues. "This includes ensuring that children have access to quality education through enrollment in kindergartens. Although some of our lawyers are located outside of Ukraine, they are still engaged in projects within the EMEA region."
All the while, Piontkovsky highlights that some areas of law remain quite busy, including intellectual property, taxes, labor, and corporate law. "These four practice areas are the main drivers of our business," he says. "The Labor practice remains busy due to the various reorganizations and changes taking place in the market, as well as the need for companies to make changes to their employment practices," Piontkovsky notes. "This includes relocating and transferring employees to other offices. Additionally, recent legislative changes – such as the requirement for employers to keep records of employees who may be subject to military service – have raised important questions and triggered an increased demand for our services."
Piontkovsky adds that "the tax practice area has been affected by changes introduced by the government last year, which resulted in the implementation of a single tax of 2% of revenues. Companies have the option to switch to this tax regime and, if they do so, they are exempt from paying corporate income tax and value-added taxes." Piontkovsky highlights that this change has made the tax administration process more convenient, from an administrative point of view.
Finally, Piontkovsky notes that the IP practice area has not been greatly affected by the ongoing conflict and war. "IP rights continue to be registered despite the challenging circumstances, which helps to maintain the stability of this practice area," he says. "The corporate practice area has also remained busy, as clients may choose to undergo corporate reorganizations, resulting in the consolidation of multiple companies into a single entity."
On the flip side, real estate and dispute resolution are among the practices which are currently less busy, Piontkovsky says. "Due to the current business environment, law firms’ utilization levels are not at 100%, and some of the employees may not be busy enough," he notes. "However, we are endeavoring to help these people work on other projects and ensure that their skills are applied effectively. Despite everything, we are making efforts to keep all lawyers busy and engaged," he adds. "We believe that – once the war is over – the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine will begin, so we intend to retain our teams and boost their professional development, to deal with the challenging and sophisticated client work ahead."