Borislav Boyanov: A lawyer should use their influence on the client to enforce the rule of law

In Chambers Europe’s 2019 rankings Borislav Boyanov is yet again recognized as one of the most eminent legal practitioners in Bulgaria in the field of corporate and commercial law.

 

The conversation with Borislav Boyanov is part of the series of Lex interviews with leading lawyers on the development and future of the profession, the legal environment, the expectations of clients and lawyers.

 

Mr. Boyanov, for more than 29 years since it was founded, Boyanov & Co. has consulted on most of the significant deals in Bulgaria, it has worked for some of the biggest investors. This gives you a unique view. How do you assess the legal environment in Bulgaria today?

We do not always realize how much has changed in Bulgaria over the past 30 years. It was a very intense time, filled with many dreams, expectations, disappointments and development – in economics, law, society, culture, etc. Our colleagues in the West are impressed by this intensity and say that we have gained experience and wisdom of centenarians. Being wise, however, let’s hope we keep our youthful vigor and courage.

By referring to the legal environment, as a reaction, the words “rule of law”, “justice”, “morality” come as a conscious slogan. Every lawyer should more or less see the meaning of their professional path in this. Recently a survey came out, which showed that a major factor for investment (domestic and foreign) was not so much the availability of workforce, for example, as much as the legal framework and the efficiency of the judicial system. And if the EU membership has generally brought our legislation into line with the European one, we all understand that the efforts should be directed at the permanent national rulemaking that must be done by excellent professionals, well considered and in the common interest. All citizens benefit from a judicial system that enforces good laws, competently and impartially, and that has gained wide public respect. Another vital element of the motivating legal environment is the functioning of a strong and well qualified legal community which is also a fighter for justice and integrity.

 

Legal work, especially in an office like yours, which is specialized in consulting business clients, is directly related to the development of the economy. If at first lawyers worked on the major privatization deals, and after the financial and economic crisis there seemed to be more work on restructuring, insolvency and litigations, what is happening now? What is your advice most sought for?

For nearly 30 years, we have developed strong practices and are working on various acquisitions and diverse corporate transactions, funding, competition, energy, intellectual property, litigation matters. Diversity is one of the best things in our profession.

 

What were the biggest challenges for you in recent years?

The answer should probably be a few pages and too dispersed. One of the challenges was the process of setting up a law firm that would be as good as offices that have existed for hundreds of years, to work with them equally, to speak the same language, and to respond to the requirements of clients according to international standards. In short – building continues even now. This is also important from another point of view: Nowadays, in most of the cases we work on, we have more or less an international element. If we do not work according to international standards, performance would not be good.

 

And what do you regard as the biggest success of your office?

As a continuation of the previous answer – building an enduring and strong professional and moral team, which in recent years has been ranked as a leader not only in Bulgaria, but also in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The biggest success is our people, our long-term clients, and the big and interesting deals we work on.

 

What does it take to be a “good” lawyer?

It has long been known that the excellent knowledge of law is only an essential start, which is obvious. A good lawyer must understand economics, philosophy, politics. To know very well the business and the client’s interests. To be moral and ethical. To use their influence on the client to enforce the rule of law. To be socially active and to contribute to society. It may sound exuberant, but this combination is excellent as a goal.

 

You work with many foreign clients and follow the world trends, how has legal work changed over the last 5 years? Are there new requirements that are imposed on lawyers globally?

We will miss something very important if we do not mention technology. Our clients are already shopping online, they have smart home appliances, they want good quality services at once and at a low cost. And they can choose from many suppliers. This completely changes their requirements to lawyers. In addition, technologies create new legal industries and regulations, they democratize the law enforcement process and make it cheaper and more affordable. For example, disputes solved online only by eBay are several times more than disputes resolved throughout the United Kingdom. Technology providers of legal services are emerging, big audit firms invest billions in artificial intelligence and actively make a way into the legal business. Huge changes come from the US and China. Obviously, all of this will change the way we work and how we will be organized. And those who understand and act in accordance with these global processes will survive and succeed.

 

You shared how, in 1989, with the presentation of your business card during an international conference, you brought one of the first largest clients of the law firm – Philip Morris. Attracting clients is one of the most important skills for a lawyer. How does it work today in this global world and with the new technologies?

That’s how it happened – a brief conversation, a business card, interviews – and Philip Morris became my first international client (before 1989 we could not work with foreigners). And we’ve been together for 30 years now. Business development, marketing, etc. are part of the “contemporary lawyer’s business”. This works through a variety of forms – conferences, articles and publications, social networks, and so on. The most powerful tool, of course, is the satisfied client. The important thing is to show attention to the client and their needs, not to praise ourselves.

 

Borislav Boyanov (far right) is moderating the first meeting of the AmCham’s Digital Sustainability Forum, April 24, 2019 with Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and Rossen Zhelyazkov, Minister of Transport and ICT of The Republic of Bulgaria. Far-left: Petar T. Ivanov, Executive Director of AmCham Bulgaria.
16 years ago, you were among the founders of SEE Legal, today it seems that you look more eastward – towards India, you are founder and chairman of the Indian-Bulgarian Business Chamber. Is there any experience from the legal business organization there that can be successfully implemented in our country?

SEE Legal continues to be the largest “provider” of lawyer assistance in 12 Southeast European countries. The Indian-Bulgarian Business Chamber is something different – It is a public commitment that I took with great enthusiasm. I am also acquainted with the Indian legal market, which is very dynamic and interesting, though still closed to foreign law firms. What impresses me is the diligence, creativity and professionalism of my Indian colleagues. We have a lot to learn from Indian culture, including in the field of law. Let’s not forget this is the country of the ancient Laws of Manu.

 

At the moment, 15 years after the adoption of the current Bar Act, there is again talk of the need for a completely new fundamental law for the profession. Do you think there is a real need for a brand new Bar Act?

Obviously, the law should reflect with precision the changes that occur in life. And they are abundant. It is important for me that the profession is democratic, independent, unified, to develop, to be well structured and organized. The legal community must be an effective defender of citizens and legal entities, of the civil society, and also of lawfulness. And its voice should be strong, competent and reputable. How to achieve this from regulatory perspective is a matter of legal technique, for which there are good examples and knowledgeable colleagues.

 


Who is Borislav Boyanov

Borislav Boyanov, Founder and Managing partner of Boyanov & Co. Attorneys at Law. He is also founder and co-chair of the South East Europe Legal Group (SEE Legal).

He is General Honorary Consul of Malta to Bulgaria and Chairman of the Association of the Honorary Consuls in Bulgaria. He is also chairman of the Indian-Bulgarian Business Chamber and the Legal Development Foundation, which has been conducting the international event Balkan Legal Forum for 20 years.

Boyanov & Co. is one of the largest and worldwide-recognized law firms in Bulgaria. The law firm, established in 1990, has consulted on most of the significant deals, and its client portfolio includes more than 3,800 local and international companies, governments and institutions.

Since its creation, Boyanov and Co. has been ranked as a leader in corporate and commercial law, banking and finance, intellectual property, competition, real estate, and litigation.