Despite the ongoing challenges generated by the Russian invasion, the markets in Ukraine have seen surprising levels of activity, according to Rob Shantz, a Corporate and Compliance Partner with Redcliffe Partners. In the midst of it all, Shantz remains optimistic about the future, envisioning a busy legal market as Ukraine aligns more closely with the EU, leading to significant opportunities in the country’s rebuilding efforts once the war is over.
“From our perspective, it has been reasonably and perhaps surprisingly busy compared to last year,” Shantz begins. “It varies across departments and individual attorneys. For example, our Banking & Finance and Competition groups have been particularly busy, while M&A work has been somewhat limited.” However, he reports there is different Corporate activity, “especially in restructuring, sometimes regarding separating connections with Russia. There are also ongoing operational issues to assist with, including, e.g., employment issues, as well as advising on certain issues specific to clients with assets in occupied territories.”
Shantz further reports that, for lawyers in Ukraine, one key area of challenges revolves around personnel issues. “Some of our attorneys are serving in the military, and we are conscious of their commitments and constantly concerned for their safety,” he says. “Additionally, we have senior staff on secondment with international firms outside of Ukraine, like Clifford Chance in London. Their absence presents challenges, as some institutional knowledge goes with them, and we have to transition new professionals effectively.”
Still, despite these challenges, Shantz reports that he is optimistic about the future. “We believe that when things stabilize and return to normal, the legal market will be very busy. It seems Ukraine will align more with the EU, and there will also be substantial legal work associated with the country’s rebuilding,” he explains. “Initially, the focus may be on donors and international financial institutions, but there should ultimately also be significant private investment. Already, there are proposals in the works for further privatization activities, subject to clarifications, and progress is also being made on easing foreign exchange restrictions,” he further elucidates.
From his perspective, Shantz says that “while managing the situation is sometimes challenging, we’ve been fortunate so far to have handled personnel developments reasonably well. However, we must be realistic and it saddens me to acknowledge that the longer this situation continues, the tougher it may be for some team members to return, especially if they’ve established roots and connections elsewhere,” he says.
Finally, Shantz says that he is “immensely proud” of his Ukrainian colleagues: “I have tremendous respect for how the Ukrainian people, and especially my colleagues, are responding to the events unfolding in the country. Their resilience and dedication are commendable, and it strengthens our resolve to navigate through these challenging times together.”