02 April 2021 of the year
Olga Prosyanyuk on the criminal practice of AVER LEX
«international research Best Lawyers»
Our company was established as a legal boutique with a core criminal law specialization in 2012. The choice of specialization was based on several factors. Firstly, the partners of the firm already had sufficient experience in defense in criminal cases, as well as a vision of the development of this practice in the company. And, in particular, we already had a really powerful team of criminal lawyers. At that time, there was no competition in this area in the market. In the end, I had an inner feeling about the forthcoming growth in the popularity of the practice and its separation into a separate, independent from the judicial practice. Not to mention the fact that we had a strong desire to be the best in this area.
Did you have early career mentors who helped you?
At the university, one of my mentors was a professor of the Department of Civil Law Elena Kokhanovskaya. She was among those who instilled in me a keen interest to compete with worthy opponents in a lawsuit. And you know what? During the defense of my dissertation in order to obtain a PhD in Law, there were also opponents – leading scientific lawyers. And it was Elena who was then my opponent.
I am always inspired by the success achieved by Natalia Kuznetsova. She is one of the most respected professionals and an outstanding representative of the Ukrainian legal community. For me, she is an example of a professional, deeply in love with her work.
What is the story behind the creation of AVER LEX?
We created our company together with my partner Vitaly Serdyuk. This decision was deliberate and carefully thought out. I remember how we chose our first office, how we designed it, but the name of the company was not yet available. The whole team expressed their thoughts on the name. It is now very popular to use the names of the founders in the name of the company. But we wanted something very special that reflected our values and goals. This is how the name AVER LEX appeared – “THE LAW ABOVE ALL!”
What are your most proud accomplishments over the past year that led AVER LEX to receive the Law Firm of the Year award in criminal matters?
Our main success lies in realizing our 5th anniversary goal of becoming a leading, highly specialized criminal defense firm. As you know, many high-ranking officials, politicians and businessmen have chosen our team. Not surprisingly, such cases are usually very delicate and politically motivated. We are proud to conduct business that has no analogues in Ukraine.
Our team is withstanding absolutely unprecedented pressure to defend the interests of Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine. This is the most resonant case in the judicial system of Ukraine. We are the only lawyers on the territory of Ukraine and the CIS countries who interrogated several government officials on the air at the same time: three presidents of Ukraine, including the current president; two prime ministers; the current speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and a number of others.
As a result of an active position, our professional rights were violated. This situation was widely covered in Ukrainian and foreign media, and initiated a professional discussion regarding the rights of lawyers in Ukraine. Responding to the strong support of the legal community, as well as professional and human rights organizations, we have collected evidence of systematic violations of the professional rights of lawyers in Ukraine. We have prepared a special report, which we presented in September. In the process of preparing the report, I held a number of meetings, including with MEPs, international human rights defenders and a representative of the Special Procedures Department of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who were notified of significant cases of pressure on Ukrainian lawyers and violations of their rights.
Overall, I believe that our public position to defend our profession and change the rules of the game in the country is the most important achievement over the past year.
Are there other attorneys in your firm that you would like to highlight who have contributed significantly to helping the firm win your major cases?
Of course, high achievements are the work of our entire team. The team of lawyers in the field of politically motivated cases is led by Senior Partner Vitaly Serdyuk and Partner Igor Fedorenko. And the team of lawyers in the field of Business defense is partner Artem Drozdov.
Is there anything else in this practice or other that the firm is particularly proud of?
It is very important for our team and for me personally to contribute to the development of the legal profession in our country. Recently, I have been the head of the Initiative Group for the Protection of the Rights of Lawyers. Together with the Ukrainian Section of the International Society for Human Rights, we have prepared a special report on the violation of the rights of lawyers in Ukraine. Its presentation took place in September.
I hope that we will be able to draw maximum attention to this problem and encourage lawyers not only to report violations, but also to use all existing tools to protect their rights and guarantees of advocacy. I believe that lawyers play an important role in our country on the road to reform. Rights and guarantees for lawyers are fundamental principles of ensuring access to justice.
Last year our company celebrated its 5th anniversary. Over the years, we have managed to implement a ten-year development plan. For the coming period, we have set ourselves the main task – to maximize criminal practice at the international level.