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Managing Partner of Goltsblat BLP, Senior Partner Corporate, M&A and Investment Projects

How I became a lawyer:

My current personal practice far exceeds what I could have imagined. I had never dreamed of becoming a lawyer and it happened rather by accident. Following my compulsory military service in the USSR paratrooper division, I was admitted to the Law School of the Soviet Union Interior Ministry and graduated in Law with distinction. It was the time of Boris Eltsin, when the USSR was collapsing and history was being created right outside my office at the first Russian Parliament, where I held the position of Head of Staff of the Constitutional Commission. In August 1991, tanks went out into the streets of Moscow and this saw the demise of the Soviet Union. I continued my career at the Parliament and, in 1993, again watched, from my second floor windows, as tanks rolled past. Then Boris Eltsin (the First Russian President) dismissed Parliament. The work on the First Russian Constitution was almost completed and Boris Eltsin put it up for a referendum. It became The Law at the end of 1993. A new Russian Duma was elected and I quit my job, as there was no longer such enthusiasm and excitement.

A new era of my career, as a commercial lawyer, began. In 1993, bold foreign investors were seeking legal support in Russia, recognising the opportunities available in this new country. One of them was Mars, Inc., which desperately needed support for construction of its confectionery plant in Russia. I was introduced to them by their UK lawyers at the time and I was immediately tasked with making a land deal with the local Mayor for building a plant. They had been negotiating six months with no visible progress, so I stepped in. It appeared that they were negotiating a UK law-governed lease poorly translated into Russia. It made no sense to the Soviet Mayor, so they got stuck. This was my first experience as a commercial lawyer and I didn't have a clue about land leases, but I delved into the Land Code of Russia, drafted a six-page lease, added a purchase option and, in two weeks, the deal was done. I just realised I could be a lawyer not only at the Parliament, as this was a huge success for my client. The venture began and brought me to the point where I am today. Mars is still our major client and it eventually purchased that land and now holds the title to it


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