Forum Mission and Concept
To bring together the CIS and international legal communities with the aim of creating joint business opportunities and long-term cooperation.
The CIS Local Counsel Forum is the first ever wide-scale informal network of the international legal community and the Local Counsel law firms of the CIS economic region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan). The Forum represents non-political and non-partisan gatherings of lawyers who share the Mission of the Forum and wish to expand their practices and business opportunities through new personal contacts.
Kiev was the perfect choice for the first meeting of the Forum, which was successfully held on 28-30 June 2006.
Baku was chosen by popular vote as the venue for the second Forum on 20-22 June 2007 and proved to be a great success too.
Third Forum was held in St. Petersburg on 25-27 June 2008 and was the largest and most spectacular meeting so far.
Kiev was the venue for the fourth Forum on 24-26 June 2009.
Minsk was chosen by the Delegates as the venue for the fifth Forum held on 23 - 25 June 2010.
The 6th CIS Local Counsel Forum was held in Almaty on 22-24 June 2011, hosted by leading national law firm in Kazakhstan - Aequitas.
The 7th CIS Local Counsel Forum took place in Yerevan on 6-8 June 2012, hosted by Ameria CJS.
The 8th CIS Local Counsel Forum will be held in Kiev-Odessa on 26-29 June 2013, hosted again by RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group.
Subsequent meetings of the Forum will rotate through other CIS capitals on an annual basis.
Background and objectives
The CIS countries, although they have their political and cultural differences, represent a broad economic region with intertwined business connections and comparable legal systems. Consequently, this region also represents, on a global scale, a larger legal services market. Yet most international law firms operating in this market ("International Law Firms") are either located outside of the region, or at best have a single office, usually located in Russia. At the same time, these International Law Firms are often required to assist their clients in various CIS countries and need to have the capability to do this locally without investing in establishing their own offices in each CIS jurisdiction. In addition, considering that local companies in the CIS countries are increasingly entering international markets, International Law Firms also may find new business opportunities through establishing cooperation with local counsel law firms in various CIS countries ("Local Counsel"). Under these circumstances, the natural solution for International Law Firms is to seek out and rely on Local Counsel in the CIS countries.
The good news is that, over the past 10 years, competent and reliable local counsel have arisen in practically all CIS countries. The bad news for International Law Firms is that it is often quite difficult to identify quality Local Counsel and to select those that are most suitable for professional cooperation. Until the Forum was established, there was no comprehensive database available listing Local Counsel in the CIS, nor any other forum existing where Local Counsel can present themselves, exchange information and establish contacts with each other and with International Law Firms.
Our law firm, the RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group, P.A. (www.rulg.com), is a local Ukrainian law firm based in Kiev, with an office in Washington, D.C. and a well-established network of affiliated local law firms throughout the CIS. Our client base consists mostly of large- and medium-sized multinational companies doing business in Ukraine or elsewhere in the CIS. In addition, about 25-30% of our business over the past 15 years has been acting as Local Counsel to International Law Firms that lack offices in Ukraine. We are also regularly asked by International Law Firms and Corporate Counsel to help find Local Counsel to assist them with their legal needs in various other CIS jurisdictions.
Therefore, for us it was a logical solution to organize the Forum in order to provide both International Law Firms and Local Counsel, as well as Corporate Counsel, with an opportunity to meet each other, share their experiences and news on legal developments in their countries and establish new connections.
This process was successfully launched by holding the first CIS Local Counsel Forum annual meeting in Kiev on 28-30 June 2006 (the "First Forum"), was continued by holding even more successful second Forum in Baku on 20-22 June 2007 (the "Second Forum"), third Forum in St. Petersburg on 25-27 June 2008 (the "Third Forum"), fourth Forum in Kiev on 24 - 26 June 2009 ("Forth Forum"), and fifth Forum in Minsk on 23-25 June 2010 ("Fifth Forum").
The Sixth CIS Local Counsel Forum took place in Almaty on 22-24 June 2011, hosted by leading national law firm in Kazakhstan - Aequitas. The Seventh CIS Local Counsel Forum took place in Yerevan on 6-8 June 2012, hosted by Ameria CJS ("Seventh Forum") and the Eight CIS Local Counsel Forum will be held in Kiev-Odessa on 26-29 June 2013, hosted by RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group.
Based on the results of all Forums an informal network of International Law Firms and Local Counsel has been established, including a Web site http://www.rulg.com/cisforum/ and database. The decision was made to hold subsequent annual meetings of the Forums in rotating CIS locations on an annual basis. Each annual meeting will showcase the Local Counsel of the host country on a dedicated panel.
Several Local Counsel are invited from each CIS country (depending on the size of the local legal market). The criteria for selecting Local Counsel to participate in the Forum are described below in Sections III and IV.
The Organizational Committee, consisting of representatives of International Law Firms, Local Counsel and Corporate Counsel, has already been formed. The Organizational Committee, among other tasks, makes the final selection of the Local Counsel to participate in each Forum.
Distinguished individuals from the local legal, business and academic communities, Government, media, etc. are invited as speakers and guests for social events surrounding the annual meetings of the Forum.
Invitees that commit to attend the annual meeting, fill out the Registration Form and pay the Registration Fee will be qualified to participate in the Forum (in addition, Local Counsel will have to pass the qualification requirements and selection process established by the Organizational Committee as described in Section IV below). Organizing the Forum and its annual meetings requires substantial effort and costs on our part, as well as efforts by the volunteers who form the Organizational Committee, and we ask for the invitees' understanding and cooperation in this respect. Registration for annual meetings is carried out strictly on a "first come, first serve" basis.
Participants in the Forum annual meetings (International Law Firms, Local Counsel and Corporate Counsel) are becoming members of an informal CIS Local Counsel network. And the advantage of this network is that it results form human communication and is composed of the people who have actually met each other.
One of the concerns the Forum participants may have is that many of them may be in competition with each other. We believe that this concern does not have any substantial effect on the Forum. Because of the still small size of most CIS legal markets, there are not many Local Counsel available. Moreover, the ones that are available and qualified usually act as Local Counsel to more than one International Law Firm. In fact, this is an advantage because serving as Local Counsel increasingly is becoming a specialty for local law firms and the more International Law Firms they serve in this capacity, more experienced and proficient they become in ethical, professional and other aspects of this specialty. By the same token, International Law Firms are not limited to having just one Local Counsel in any particular jurisdiction. With several Local Counsel from each CIS country present at the Forum, International Law Firms have a good opportunity to choose the Local Counsel(s) that best match their needs, and vice versa.
Participating International Law Firms and Local Counsel
The notion of "International Law Firms" used in this Concept is broad and includes any law firms that are not based (or have very limited representation) in the CIS region, and are involved in international business and corporate practice. Thus "International Law Firms" includes law firms with offices worldwide, as well as law firms based in neighboring regions, such as the Baltics, Poland, the Czech Republic, and others.
The Forum is openly publicized among the international legal community. Our intent is to keep the Forum as open to International Law Firms, Local Counsel and Corporate Counsel as possible, but we are limited by logistical constraints. Due to capacity limits, Registration for annual meetings is carried out on a "first come - first serve" basis.
Each participating International Law Firm will be asked to designate one person at their firm, who will act as the point of contact on all organizational issues during the period that the annual meeting is being organized and who will be fully authorized and fully committed to performing this task. Due to capacity limits, we are asking each International Law Firm not to send more than three delegates.
Several Local Counsel from each CIS country (depending on the size of the local legal market) are invited to participate in the Forum. The initial list of invited Local Counsel is composed of the firms that enjoy the best reputations in their respective jurisdictions as Local Counsel. There is an opportunity for all Local Counsel invitees to recommend other Local Counsel for invitation, and the Organizational Committee, with the assistance of Country Coordinators, will conduct its own research before determining the final list of invited Local Counsel.
If there are less than four Local Counsel Law Firms from any particular country, the Organizational Committee reserves the right to add qualified Local Counsel from other countries.
Each participating Local Counsel is asked to fill out a Questionnaire/Application about its practice and these Questionnaires are distributed with the Forum materials and posted on the Forum Web site.
The following criteria are applied to the invited Local Counsel, assuring that each is: a local law firm; non-affiliated (i.e., having no exclusive or proclaimed non-exclusive affiliation with any single international law firm); well-established; experienced in doing international legal work and possessing staff with solid foreign language capabilities; located in the capital or in a major business/financial center of their respective country; and equipped with good technical support and modern means of communication; active in serving as Local Counsel to International Law Firms.
Additionally, preference is given in the selection process to those who: are members of international professional associations and non-exclusive legal networks; demonstrate technical sophistication and understanding of clients' desires for easy access to information by maintaining a comprehensive Web site; maintain professional liability insurance; provide references from International Law Firms.
The final selection of Local Counsel is made by the Organizational Committee.
Each Local Counsel is asked to dedicate at least one senior partner and one member of their support staff to assist with the organization of the Forum annual meetings, and at least one senior partner to attend these meetings.
Each Local Counsel is required to pay their own Registration Fees, travel and lodging costs for each of their delegates and guests. Due to capacity limits, we are asking each Local Counsel not to send more than three delegates.
Participating Corporate Counsel
At first, we thought to organize the Forum only for law firms, but we later received several requests from Corporate Counsel of prominent multinational and CIS companies insisting that they be included in the Forum, and seeing this interest, we were pleased to open the Forum to in-house counsel. In fact, a group of Corporate Counsel was very active at the First Forum in Kiev, and presented an interesting and well-attended panel of their own.
For Corporate Counsel, Forum annual meetings are a perfect opportunity to survey the entire CIS legal market in just a couple of days, and to make and expand contacts in various countries of the region. We know that sometimes it may be challenging to find top quality Local Counsel, and that is why the Organizational Committee carried out extensive research and careful selection of the best Local Counsel. Information about these firms and the comprehensive Questionnaires filled out by them are a valuable resource for Corporate Counsel.
Forum annual meetings and proposed agenda
The Organizational Committee consists of one or more representatives from those Forum participants (International Law Firms, Local Counsel and Corporate Counsel), who are willing to dedicate considerable time and efforts to the Forum. Service on the Organizational Committee is on a volunteer basis. All communications are carried out via e-mail with the aim of saving time and minimizing bureaucracy. The Organizational Committee makes decisions by a simple majority of member votes.
Each Local Counsel, which is a member of the Organizational Committee, is also a Country Coordinator for its country and possibly other countries in its sub-region.
RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group is volunteering to lead the organizational effort and to carry out all the necessary organizational steps required on a non-profit basis (the expected costs are described in Section VII below). Dr. Irina Paliashvili of RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group, Mr. John Whittaker of Clyde & Co LLP, and Mr. Dimitry Afanasiev of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners are Co-Chairs of the Forum. Ms. Nonna Paliachvili and Ms. Lilia Gokieli of RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group are the Global Coordinators of the Forum.
The annual meetings of the Forum are held over the course of 2.5 days: Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and Friday. An extensive social events program is organized to give the delegates an opportunity to socialize with each other in an informal environment. A separate program is organized for guests of the delegates.
The Program/Agenda is divided into 2.5 days, with the first afternoon devoted to the meeting of the CIS Local Counsel (open to all delegates). The second day consists of the CIS regional panels (Caucasus region; Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova; Central Asia region; Showcase of the Host Country), International Law Firms and Corporate Counsel panels. The third day consists of substantive panels devoted to specific areas of law where the delegates can discuss recent developments in a particular area of law in their jurisdiction. Special Seminars may be organized within the framework of an annual meeting.
The languages of the annual meetings are English and Russian, considering that these are the languages most common among the delegates. Simultaneous Russian-English translation is provided, but not for any other languages.
During the day, there are several coffee breaks dedicated to networking and lunches with keynote speakers from the host country's business community and government. There is a welcome reception on the first night and dinners on the second and third nights of the annual meeting in most beautiful venues in the host city.
Logistical information about the Forum annual meetings is available on the Forum Web site. The Forum Local Coordinator is designated to provide logistical assistance to the delegates.
Local transportation from the airport upon arrival, and to and from dinners, is arranged. Forum delegates will be asked to make their own travel arrangements to and from the host city - this should not pose any problems, as Forum venues are easily accessible from most European and CIS capitals. If any Forum delegates would like to stay in the host city for the weekend, reliable travel and tour agents will be recommended.
RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group has assembled a dedicated logistics team for the Forum at our Kiev and Washington offices. Our in-house team works mostly on a volunteer basis, with the exception of the Forum Global Coordinators, who is working on the Forum full time, and the Welcome Team, which will work during the annual meeting. The logistics team works on such issues as preparing the Forum materials; renting premises; hiring catering services, simultaneous translators (English-Russian), transportation and photographers; organizing social events; negotiating group rates with hotels; etc.
The contact information for the Forum logistical team and coordinators is available on the Forum Web site. The contact information for the Forum Co-Chairs is
Dr. Irina Paliashvili, Senior Counsel & President
RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group, P.A.
4056 Mansion Dr., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007 USA
Phone/Fax (202) 338-1182/4237
Mr. John Whittaker, Partner Clyde & Co LLP
London EC3M 1JP U.K.
Phone (207) 623-1244
Fax (207) 623-5427
The Forum is a non-profit venture and most of the organizational work is carried out on a volunteer basis by RULG-Ukrainian Legal Group, the Host Firm, the Organizational Committee and the other delegates. For the annual meetings, delegates share the costs of all joint activities (conference premises rental, simultaneous translation, preparing and copying written materials, transportation, social events, service providers, etc.) equally, as these costs are built into the Forum's Registration Fee. The delegates are individually responsible for their travel and hotel accommodations.
The Registration Fee for delegates includes all conference premises/translation/materials costs, coffee breaks, lunches, dinners and local transportation upon arrival and to/from dinners), and for Guests includes tours, lunches, dinners and local transportation upon arrival and to/from dinners). Because the Registration Fee is cost-based and is rather small compared to the fees charged at many international conferences, no discounts are available, and each delegate, even if there is more than one delegate from the same law firm, will have to pay the full Registration Fee.
After the annual meeting has concluded, the logistics team presents its financial report to the Organizational Committee and, if any money is left over after the annual meeting, this money is put towards the costs of setting up and maintaining the Forum Web site and database.