Ranking of Young Entrepreneurs

24.05.12 interview with Maksym Lavrynovych "Money Magazine"

Maksym Lavrynovych is one of the youngest among Ukraine’s successful lawyers. He is the son of Oleksandr Lavrynovych, the present Minister of Justice. However, Maksym started his own legal service business in 2005, after Oleksandr Lavrynovych stepped down as a minister in February of that year to resume his position only in late 2006.

Established in 2004, Lavrynovych & Partners Law Firm has been consistently recognized in prestigious professional rankings. Among the company’s clients are the largest domestic and transnational companies. To achieve such outstanding results at the age of 33, Maksym Lavrynovych had to take his first steps in the legal service business and earn his first money when he was a first-year student at the Institute of International Relations. When Mr. Lavrynovych received his diploma of higher education, he had already worked as a legal counsel for several enterprises and an associate with a law firm. Then, up until the launch of his own project called Lavrynovych & Partners, the young lawyer honed his skills at Ernst&Young for several years.
“Turning from an employee into an employer was an incredible psychological and financial risk”, recalls Maksym Lavrynovych. “We started our business in a small office with minor repairs and rented tables and chairs. We brought the office equipment from home and could afford our own furniture only four months later. At that time the firm did not put up any job ads. I already knew the first six employees, including the secretary. They had worked in the legal service business before, knew me and ventured to join the new project, in which they trusted.”

The initial investments in the business were relatively small: our office and personnel costs were approximately $6,000 a month. The founders of the law firm covered those costs out of their own savings. Maksym Lavrynovych believes that the availability of a start-up capital and high professional skills are not as crucial for survival in the legal service business as business acumen and the ability to earn money and not only to receive the salary and bonuses. The “intellectual capital” and the base of clients with whom the team of the newly established firm had worked before came in handy for the successful launch. The trust of the previous employers was particularly helpful.

“I have always been grateful to Ernst&Young, where I was recommended to some clients to whom I provided legal services”, continues Mr. Lavrynovych. “It was the time when Ernst&Young were separating their auditing business from legal services, and the clients requested the latter anyway. That gave us the possibility to work with major projects. And the first major clients brought new ones.”

While willingly discussing the history and prospects of his business, the successful lawyer prefers not to speak about the value of his assets. In the opinion of Mr. Lavrynovych, the principal value of the legal service business is the intellect of the people whose surnames are mentioned in a company's name. Unlike a factory or real estate, the legal service business cannot generate the same profits without the people with whom the firm is associated. According to different estimates, the turnover of Mr. Lavrynovych’s law firm in 2011 could have been from UAH 70 million to UAH 90 million.

A tip from Maksym Lavrynovych: For those who start a business, lines of activity should always be determined by the clients' needs. If there are clients, adjust to their needs and start a business. If there are no clients, make them come to you and agree to cooperate. Only then should you launch your own business.

Money Magazine