What steps has the firm taken to support clients and employees through the recent pandemic?
Kinstellar has established a firm-wide COVID-19 Legal Task Force with dedicated legal experts from across our relevant sector-focused teams and practice groups and a dedicated Legal Response Hotline service that is available for our clients and partners.
To further help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our clients’ businesses, we have also created a special online COVID-19 Resource Hub, which is the firm’s repository of relevant insights, podcasts, webinars and other content focusing on important legal and strategy issues related to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis situation in our jurisdictions: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
In less than five years, the Sofia team has positioned itself as a go-to counsel for big-ticket transactions (both local and international). Drawing on the excellent reputation of the local team, Kinstellar’s Sofia office has secured high-calibre mandates from blue-chip clients, including some of the largest M&A / financing / real estate transactions on the Bulgarian market, as recently demonstrated through our work for the winning bidder of the Sofia Airport Concession, Meridiam. Kinstellar was the only international firm in Bulgaria that advised a bidding consortium on this landmark infrastructure project.
Do you feel women are well represented at partner level and in management positions in firms within the country where you are based?
It may sound strange to our Western European and US colleagues, but Bulgaria does not seem to have issues with female lawyer representation at the partner level. What is more, a few of the international law firms, as well as a number of local law firms are managed by women. One of the reasons for this might be that Bulgaria’s long history of full-time work for women (also during the socialist era) may have removed the stigma that women should choose between a family and a career. We have always had examples of women successfully combining both jobs.
What advice would you give to women in junior positions to encourage them to work towards attaining senior positions?
The only advice I would give them is to make sure that they are in the right place, i.e., in a firm that treats people fairly. All the rest is hard work, team-work and integrity. At some point they will simply find themselves in senior positions. Such positions cannot be demanded, they find you.
What initiatives do you have in place at your firm to promote gender equality? Does your firm have other diversity programmes?
Sitting on the firm’s board, I have made a priority of promoting diversity and gender equality and I aim to spearhead new policies and initiatives to endorse women and to devise solutions for each of them customised to the issues or challenges that they may face.
Our diversity - combined with our ability to think and act as a unified, seamless law firm across borders, languages and cultures - is one of the pillars of our strength. This is what our clients require from us, and our success is constantly measured by our ability to consistently deliver it.
Kinstellar is committed to providing equal opportunities to everyone in recruitment, selection, training, promotion, redeployment and terms and conditions of employment. No one should be unfairly disadvantaged at work or in any disciplinary action on the grounds of race, age, colour, religion, belief, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability or any other unlawful criterion or circumstance. Additionally, the firm is committed to ensuring that all professional dealings with employees, partners, members, directors, other lawyers, clients or other third parties are free from any discriminatory conduct or harassment.
What do you consider to be the greatest achievements of your career?
One of the main achievements and challenges so far was the establishment of Kinstellar’s Sofia office in 2014, when the legal market in Bulgaria was quite saturated (as it continues to be). Our team was determined to build a high-quality practice capable of serving international clients on some of the most complex transactions and projects in the country. At the same time, it was important to maintain an atmosphere of collegiality, team-work and trust, so that people can thrive and enjoy rewarding careers. This and the continuing trust of our clients are the most rewarding achievements in my career so far.