An in-depth look at Olexiy Soshenko of Redcliffe Partners covering his career path, education, and top projects as a lawyer as well as a few insights about him as a manager at work and as a person outside the office.
Favorite out of office activity: Swimming, Gardening, Cider making
Favorite quote: “If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.” – Tennessee Williams
Favorite book: Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque
Favorite movie: The Big Short
Top 5 Projects:
What would you say was the most challenging project you ever worked on and why?
Soshenko: I would single out the first big corporate debt restructuring in Ukraine, i.e., the restructuring of the Donetsksteel group, which resulted from the global financial crisis of 2008. There were a number of difficult elements, which made that transaction rather complex and challenging, but at the same time rewarding once the deal was closed. The difficult bits were a long line of different creditors, such as Western banks, local banks, Russian banks, trade creditors, etc., some willing to cooperate, some being rather aggressive. The majority of creditors were foreign banks and they wanted to do a classic debt restructuring under English law, introducing such instruments as standstill and override agreements, cash pooling, etc., most of which were not heard of in Ukraine. On top of that, we had very rigid currency control regulations, which made it even more difficult to put everything together.
And what was your main takeaway from it?
Soshenko: The main takeaway is there are no impossible things. You just need to understand the client’s needs and adapt them to the local realities.
What is one thing clients likely don’t know about you?
Soshenko: When I was seven, I was going in a new Soviet trolley bus on one of the largest avenues in my native town, Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. The avenue was full of lights and illumination, and I looked at all that and thought: “What would we do if there were no Grandpa Lenin?”
Name one mentor who played a big role in your career and how they impacted you.
Soshenko: There were two of them playing an equal role in my professional development. These are Volodymyr Baibarza and Adam Mycyk. We worked together first at Altheimer & Gray and then at Chadbourne & Parke. Volodymyr Baibarza is one of the first recognized practitioners in independent Ukraine, who focused on international private law. Adam Mycyk is an American lawyer of Ukrainian descent. Having practiced law in Ukraine for around 25 years, I would say that Adam knows Ukrainian law better than many Ukrainian lawyers. So, I learned a lot both from Volodymyr, as a Ukrainian senior lawyer, and from Adam, as an American lawyer.
Name one mentee you are particularly proud of.
Soshenko: I am particularly proud of Olesya Mykhailenko, who joined our team as a paralegal and was promoted to counsel this year. Olesya is focusing on general banking, fintech, financial regulatory, and derivatives. She is a great professional, intelligent, hard-working, focused, and active. Olesya is a great example and a perfect role model for juniors.
What is the one piece off advice you’d give yourself fresh out of law school?
Soshenko: I would quote here Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” I’ve been always keen and happy to face challenges and that always secured further success, but with this advice perhaps I would be even further on the edge of excitement, or maybe not.
This article was written before the advent of the war in Ukraine and was originally published in Issue 9.2 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine on March 1, 2022.