Opening an office in Helsinki was a logical step for Capital Legal Services (CLS) which regularly assists Finnish companies doing business in Russia. But it is not only Finns that CLS sees as potential clients in Helsinki, thanks to the city’s good connections and the presence of many international companies. The Helsinki office will support CLS’ existing offices in St. Petersburg and Moscow in providing services to international clients.
— Many American, Japanese and Korean companies choose Finland as a gateway to Russia. Finland and Russia have long economic ties and it only takes 3.5 hours to get to St. Petersburg from Helsinki by train. It’s important to understand that the Russian market isn’t saturated yet and there is room for new products and services. There is great potential for growth, explains Vladislav Zabrodin, Managing Partner of CLS.
— Lots of people don’t understand what kind of issues to expect when entering the Russian market. We are ready to help companies which are still a bit hesitant about coming to Russia because of this. We can ensure them a safe and comfortable approach to tackling any issue. The developed level of technology and know-how in Finland also means that more and more Russian businesses are or will be looking for joint ventures and technology acquisition. More and more Russian companies are also looking for public-private partnership projects in Finland. We can offer insight on both markets, Zabrodin continues.
CLS sees Finland as an important area for growth. The decision to come to Helsinki was made after discussions with Finnish lawyers and the investment promotion agency Helsinki Business Hub, who were very supportive of the idea. — We received some good advice on taking the initial steps. After that, opening the office in Finland was quite straightforward. We have been lucky in the recruitment process and we managed to find very experienced, profound and result-oriented people [for the new office], says Zabrodin.
Cooperation not competition
Capital Legal Services is setting an example by being the first Russian full service law firm to open office in Helsinki. At the first stage the firm will employ three people in Finland, but the aim is to grow in the coming years. Although as the capital and business centre of Finland Helsinki is natural starting point for the company, CLS is looking for opportunities in other cities as well.
— We hope the office will grow fast. Our idea is to offer another level of understanding of the Russian market, rather than to create competition for the local Finnish law firms. We will also be able to tackle the initial issues of Russian companies when they enter the Western market. We are going to cooperate with a number of Finnish law firms as different companies focus on different fields, explains Vladislav Zabrodin.
For the firm that has been working with international clients since its establishment in 1999, it is clear that building strong business relations is also important on a larger scale. — We strongly believe that the only way to improve understanding and cooperation between Russia and Finland is by cultivating our economic relationship. Despite the current troubles, the economic cooperation needs to continue and this is the best way to improve the situation, Zabrodin emphasises.
Editor’s note: This article is published in cooperation with Helsinki Business Hub and Invest in Finland.