What do you see as the main points that differentiate your firm from your competitors?
INTEGRITES is an independent Ukrainian law firm with a substantial international background (80% of our partners come from international firms). We have distinct industry focuses on energy, agriculture, heavy industries, IT and Tech, defense and healthcare. We are the first law firm in Ukraine specializing in energy transition projects with a positive climate effect.
The majority of our practices, including Tax, Banking and Finance, Real Estate and Construction, Energy, Dispute Resolution, are involved in the Climate Change Task Force established by the firm. Basically, it’s a large pool of dedicated lawyers with the in-depth knowledge of the energy transition projects’ peculiarities, who support clients in their business ventures related to green transition and zero carbon commitment. The Task Force also supports clients with green financing, policy framing and advocacy, development of renewables, trading of green energy, hydrogen and energy efficiency.
Another point of differentiation is in our corporate structure and talent management. INTEGRITES is known for its open attitude towards equity partnership. Our lawyers have a clear and transparent vision of their career path in the firm which enables them to grow from a paralegal to a senior (or equity) partner – and this is quite a rare case in the Ukrainian legal market.
Finally, INTEGRITES is unique in its active business development approach providing partners with the respective infrastructure within the firm. This ensures permanent and healthy development of each partner’s business case.
All the above helped INTEGRITES to safely go through the war. We managed to keep all our staff and remunerations and even make new hires.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
Real estate and Construction, Energy, M&A, Dispute Resolution, Banking and Finance – we see immense potential for the transactional and industry-focused practices in the post-war period. Ukraine will undergo massive transformations and
see many investors entering our country during probably the largest reconstruction in Europe in decades. Energy and infrastructure, housing stock are among the key priorities in the Government’s rebuilding plan. This very well matches our core competences. The reconstruction of Ukraine is envisaged to be green which also corresponds with the firm’s strategy and focus. Additionally, our Dispute Resolution practices will remain busy over the next years, suing Russia for the damages it caused to our clients.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
Our clients enjoy the combination of lawyers and industry experts when they work with us. We believe that being an expert in your area of law is no longer enough. That’s why we encourage mid to senior level lawyers to choose and explore the chosen industry, deepen their expertise and knowledge of its peculiarities, stakeholders, network. This approach proved to be very effective.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
We came prepared to the difficulties which the war and power outages brought to our business. We moved all our IT infrastructure to the cloud during the pandemic and got used to the productive remote work. Actually, cloud technology was one of the key factors which helped us to continue serving clients even during the initial stage of war and till now.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
We handle many cases with a project finance element. In most of them, leveraging its broad network and experience in the market, the firm engages in negotiations with the potential donors, from the initial stage to the agreement.For example, In 2019, INTEGRITES became the pioneering law firm to implement the first non-resource project financing (Syvash wind farm) in Ukraine’s renewables. The agreement between NBT AS (now – EMERGY AS), Total Eren and the EBRD was signed at the World Economic Forum in Davos in presence of the President Petro Poroshenko. Since then, most of the firm’s client work in renewables included project finance element which implies assistance in building lender-to-investor partnerships and support with negotiations on financing.
We have a solid experience in policy shaping and advocacy in a number of industries, helping our clients reach their business goals with these instruments. To name just one example out of many, I have been an active contributor to elaboration of the Memorandum between the Ukrainian Government and investors into renewable energy sector which subsequently became the basis for the new sectoral law on the feed-in-tariff passed in July 2020.
We are engaged in the industry-focused pro bono work. A good example is our partnership with the Affordable Housing Institute (USA) for the Rehousing Ukraine Initiative. RUI involves the lawyers from the firm’s Banking & Finance, Real Estate & Construction, and Corporate Law practices, in-house analytical and PR teams. As part of RUI, INTEGRITES volunteered to advise the Ministry of Communities and Territorial Development of Ukraine and other agencies of the Ukrainian government on policy development and to advise local communities and territories on their projects to receive and integrate internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
In three years (and actually much longer ahead) I see INTEGRITES sticking to its declared corporate values and reflecting them in its business strategy. Our main values are our people and our clients. We are committed to actively contribute to the rebuilding of Ukraine and to bring foreign business into the country. We see our firm significantly growing over the next years.