Vladimir Shuster

Vladimir Shuster

Partner – Egen Gregory LLP, Kazakhstan

1. How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the way you work as a lawyer? What are the key positives and negatives that have emerged out of lockdown?

As a business owner my business development activities have been severely affected by travel restrictions. Clients in emerging markets expect face time. When I call to inquire about new deals or opportunities to collaborate I am often told that such matters are for in person discussion when I return to Kazakhstan. With regard to execution, my colleagues are all experienced lawyers who are accustomed to working independently. The pandemic has not disrupted the execution. We used Sharepoint and Teams before the pandemic. Ironically, the fatigue of being home has resulted in them spending more time in the office than before the pandemic.

Positives: don’t really see any. Remote work was already part of our culture.

Negatives: probably the hit to the Kazakhstan economy which has not recovered from the 2009 financial crisis, Russian ruble devaluation and low oil prices. There will be consolidation of the government sector and with it the private sector. I guess that is good for the long term health of the Kazakhstan economy but not great for the near term economy and companies providing services to the government sector.

2. Will you and your company continue to use flexible and agile working in future? Will you reduce the size of your physical office space?

We founded our firm as a flexible and agile organization. Our office is open space with a focus on client space (conference room) and employee interaction (large kitchen for coffee and bonding). Otherwise our people come and go as they please and sit where they please.

We will not eliminate office space or reduce space. I believe you need an office to build team and culture – life is about relationships not money and people sense that.

3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis?  What has been successful and what has been lacking?

We continue to use MS Sharepoint and Teams. The pandemic has forced our clients to adapt to the technology which is great. In the past we were expected to travel to our client’s offices to discuss day to day issues. The clients are finally comfortable enough to discuss matters via technology.

The key draw back is business development still requires face time.

4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?

The younger generation will shift to using legal tech for routine legal matters. And if they can’t find a service online they will create it. High value services and litigators will do well. Day to day transactional work will be automated.

5. Has your company changed its remuneration structure during the crisis?

Our firm has not changed it remuneration structure. Good lawyers are hard to come by and always have options.

I don’t believe in the keystone model. In my experience lawyer quality has been hit or miss. I can always find a lawyer in a larger firm willing to come down to meet fees proposed by Keystone type lawyers. Firms are better at quality control and vetting people.

6. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years’ time.

I hope to see fewer lawyers 🙂

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