As reported by CEE Legal Matters on May 24, 2022, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang announced that the firm has appointed Vitaliy Radchenko as a new Managing Partner in Kyiv, replacing Graham Conlon who held the role for five years. CEELM sat down with Radchenko and CMS CMNO CEE Managing Director Dora Petranyi to discuss the appointment and the firm's outlook for the future of the Kyiv office.
CEELM: To start with the basics, Dora, what brought on the change?
Petranyi: The change happened very naturally. Graham has been leading the firm for five years with a focus on our international practice. We started discussions about him switching positions long before the war started but, with the invasion, that conversation was put on hold. Now, as we’re in what is frequently referred to as phase three of the war, with Russia’s failed military activities in Ukraine’s major cities and the substantial battles taking place only in the Donbas region, we thought that it is the right time to announce the changes.
Graham has been very successful in his activities in Europe, where he was splitting his time between the Warsaw and Kyiv offices and engaging in international transactions across CEE and beyond. It is fair to say that under his management our firm has seen fantastic growth. He will now expand his activities to the Middle East. In the meantime, we wanted to choose someone for our Kyiv office who has been with the firm for a long time and who is a recognized market leader. We were confident that Vitaliy had all these skills.
CEELM: Vitaliy, what is the current state of the office in Kyiv?
Radchenko: As you might know, very few men are allowed to leave Ukraine at the moment. Personally, I am staying in Ukraine with my wife and kid. Most of us are based in the western regional centers of the country. When missiles started hitting Kyiv, our plan was to evacuate our people away from big cities and major targets, such as cities with special infrastructure, military bases, airports, etc. Some of our employees stayed in Kyiv for personal reasons but, irrespective of that, we are still fully operational.
As a firm, we are very well established in agile working and have a robust infrastructure and systems in place to support remote working. Starting from COVID-19 times, our employees could work from their home offices without mandatory working hours. Our people could decide their location and we didn't require their physical presence as long as work was done. This approach remains the same nowadays. In addition, we are proud that the firm didn’t let anybody go, quite the opposite – our employees’ salaries and future with us remain safe.
CEELM: As much as one can make plans in the current setting, what can you tell us about your future plans for the office?
Radchenko: We are lucky to have been advising on a significant variety of long-term projects, ranging from infrastructure to IT and financing. This wide spectrum of projects still keeps us afloat. We still have a lot of work, whether on relocations from one part of the country to another or even on investments in Ukraine – just a few days ago, we closed a deal on the acquisition of a solar power plant in Ukraine. On top of that, Ukraine was one of the leading countries in terms of IT companies and software development in Europe and, even today, tens of thousands of specialists in these fields are developing software for international clients.
There is also a need for the reconstruction of infrastructure, residential property, ports, airports, etc. Once we win the war, we will need to rebuild everything, requiring a significant international effort. We already see the EU and G7 countries mobilizing funds for post-war reconstruction.
Petranyi: Six weeks into the war, we had already appointed a new Partner – Olga Shenk – who specializes in disputes. This is quite symbolic, as her plan is to focus on claiming damages in the future and helping clients to protect their investments. Second, we have a strong international network, working on a variety of multinational projects. Many of our Ukrainian members are now working on international projects, which is keeping them busy for the time being. We all hope that the terrible invasion of Ukraine will soon come to an end and we will be stronger than ever to support clients, in particular, on the initiative to rebuild Ukraine.