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Straight from the source: how to establish a legal startup during crisis

Comments of Managing Partner Anastasia Astashkevich on materials of Pravo.ru

Despite the financial difficulties – and in some cases due to them – a lot of new companies have been opened on the Russian legal market lately. In the course of "Startup in legal business: how to start out correctly" Conference, partners from leading firms shared their experience of starting new business with those who are just getting ready to set out on their own. They demonstrated the mistakes to be avoided, how parting from a Russian employer differs form the "American scenario", and whether an attorney should become a businessman.

What things should be considered during planning

First of all, you should think over your practices in advance: you must decide whether your company will be a boutique or a multi-service one from the very beginning. "The latter is more suitable for large-scale projects, as engaging experts with new areas of expertise creates synergy for further development of the company", says Korelsky. On the other hand, if you choose narrow specialization, you shouldn't try to seize the unseizable.

"Choose your practices basing on market demands", suggests Anastasia Astashkevich, the Managing Partner of "Astashkevich and Partners" Bureau. If the chosen practice has lost its topicality, don't be too quick to abandon it: it is possible that as the economic situation changes, it will have a good thing going once again.

Decide on the type of partnership in advance. If you choose the "Russian way" - a way of a closed partnership, then you should bear in mind that such variant will be less appealing for your potential partners than the possibility to achieve an equal position in the company. In any case, the partnership agreement should be concluded before starting the business, take your time to do it. You should also think of a name. The experts present have agreed, that though most companies in Russia are named by the founding partners last names, in practice abbreviations or short names are not only more convenient, but also more appealing to new partners.

A major component of success lies in planning your budget in advance. Take care while spending your money: don't be too quick to waste your money on the office with a Kremlin veiw. "It is better to invest in people, not in offices", - says Andrey Korelsky. Anastasia Astashkevich and Aleksandr Aronov, the Managing Partner of "Aronov and Partnes" company, suggest that a "Regus"-like office will quite suffice to start wth. However if you are not too limited in resources, it is better not to cut costs on the back-office.
A law firm as an avocation

Should you expect making "a fast buck" after starting your own business? Hardly so - the conference participants agree. However, it is totally guaranteed that you'll stay busy 24/7: the startupper will face a load of not only legal but also administrative work, so it is better to divide the responsibilities between partners.

Completely digging oneself in business is not the best ideas for a lawyer heading a company. "The entrepreneurial spirit should definitely be present, but you should not forget about you principal activity" - says Aleksandr Aronov, who started his own legal company "Aronov and Partners" after leaving the in-house field. "Your profession is more important than money", agrees Anastasia Astashkevich, another lawyer of in-house descent.

Anastasia Astashkevich: "Sometimes it is better to take on a cheaper but a more complex project - it will benefit you professionally, as it will help you acquire new expertise. It will be useful later for some other large-scale and more profitable project."

Aronov and Astashkevich are the few in Russian business who have corporate legal background. For those starting their own practices this can be a significant advantage. "The external advisors are task-oriented. The advantage of the in-house expertise lies in the fact that you see the situation from all sides" - says Aronov. He also hired in-house experts for his team: "Possessing a unique expertise in a particular industry and seeing the problems from the inside help to solve legal issues more efficiently and from a business point of view" - notes Aronov.

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