Maksim Greinoman, managing partner of Advokaadibüroo Greinoman & Co, discusses his legal life in Estonia and why being tech-savvy is a must!
Tell us about your firm
Advokaadibüroo Greinoman & Co was established in 2007. Its main strengths are commercial litigation and non-contentious business law. One of the most prominent cases is the first ever appeal against a decision the European Banking Authority. The successful appeal was featured in FT.com (http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2013/06/24/1545742/the-quiet-arrival-of-euro-…).
What is your role within the firm?
I am the managing partner.
Have you ever worked as a lawyer abroad?
I completed a secondment to Middleton Potts Solicitors (now a part of Hill Dickinson), a maritime and commercial law boutique in the City. It was a challenging experience to assist world-level solicitors in complex international arbitration. Definitely, I would not be where I am now without this.
What are the main opportunities and challenges for law firms in Estonia and in the Baltic countries?
Development of non-conventional businesses such as IT, eco and environmental sectors as well as non-conventional legal instruments including, for example, SMS-loans, crowdfunding structures, cryptocurrencies and mobile payments create a lot of new work. The latest example is Taxify.eu, a taxi dispatch service now expanding in Northern Europe. Estonian and Baltic law firms have an enormous opening to advise on them both locally and when local businesses start to expand their offerings abroad. Overproduction of lawyers and strong competition, however, forces law firms to keep hourly rates low. It makes it tough for law firms to win and keep the crème de la crème as many lawyers start to prefer careers as corporate counsels and in the public sector.
What advice would you give to companies new to Estonia?
Despite pan-European harmonisation member states still enact their own laws. Fairly strict enforcement of compliance may happen to be a little unexpected for the newcomers. Just hire a local manager or a compliance officer and the compliance burden will be easily overcome. You should also note that being tech-savvy is a must in Estonia. Throw your fax machine into a bin and be ready to digitally sign all documents and share them by email instead of giving a handwritten signature and sending documents by courier.
What opportunities for co-operation are there between Estonian and UK law firms?
With the exception of work originating in neighbouring countries, nearly all international legal work comes through London. Curiously, all three Baltic States as well as Finland are nearly immune from the presence of international law firms. However, this region is a home to such startups as Skype, Angry Birds, Playtech to name just a few as well as eco-friendly businesses. UK firms serving global clients should have a hub in the region and Estonian law firms would be an excellent reference point. Estonia’s ideal geographic position, nearly all lawyers having a good command of English and lower hourly rates make co-operation attractive.
Finally, what are your recommendations for visitors to Tallinn?
Go to the recently reopened Kiek in de Kök & Bastion tunnels beneath the old town and enjoy fine dining at Teletorn, Northern Europe’s highest brasserie 194 meters above sea level.