A lawyer protecting foreign investors in Ukraine, can help Ukraine to be a better country - Interview with Grigoriy Tripulskiy
The Odessa Journal interviewed Grigoriy Tripulskiy, founder and senior partner of De-Jure, one of the main Law Firms in Odessa.
Let’s start with your personal story: why did you choose a career in law? Is it a family tradition or a personal preference?
I am the only lawyer in my family. So far, my children did not show any desire to become lawyers, except maybe my youngest one. I have always been interested in Law and in the State’s role in legislation. It was very interesting for me to learn how people can protect their money and their lives. Therefore, I decided to be a lawyer and went to Odessa National Law Academy. In 2001, I graduated and started to work there. For almost 20 years, I have been working at the Academy and, then, I founded my own law firm.
When was the De-Jure Law Firm founded? Are you the managing partner?
I am the senior partner and owner of the De-Jure Law Firm. Next year, it will be 10 years since its foundation in 2011. Among those who started the law firm with me, there is also a lawyer from a big industrial company, where he was head of the legal department. When I opened my firm, all my previous clients followed me in my new juridical entity. Today, 21 specialists work with me, 14 of them are certified lawyers.
Why did you take the responsibility of organising a team of lawyers? Isn’t it a burden, instead of working for another firm?
This is an interesting question, which any lawyer should sometimes ask him- or herself. I think now I am also a businessman, not just a lawyer. At a certain point, you have to take a decision: whether to take the responsibility for a team and open something of your own, or work as a lawyer for someone else. The second way is also a good one, but sometimes you feel that you have to choose for yourself. Half of my professional life, I was working for someone and it was very good, because you get a salary and are responsible for your own work, but someone else is fully responsible for the firm. Sometimes, this responsibility falls on your shoulders, because every month you make decisions for each member of your team to organise their work. For example, now, with the coronavirus it was very hard for each owner to save his or her business and staff. It has been the same for me. But you understand that the last word is yours and you accept this responsibility. You do not need to discuss it with anyone or get an approval. I feel like this is a kind of freedom.
How has your profession changed in the last 10 years?
I believe that we are witnessing an evolution of our profession. At the time of the USSR, the profession of a lawyer was not so important. Lawyers could not play a decisive role.
Today, a lawyer in Ukraine has to be more responsible for his or her actions. Now, our profession has a monopoly because only lawyers can take cases to the Court. As a lawyer, you are responsible to the Ukrainian Union of Lawyers. If you do something wrong, they can revoke you certificate and this is very important. You have to work according to some rules. To my mind, all this made the profession of lawyer less amateur and more serious.
Let me give you an example. Recently, a friend of my family has showed me some documents that he received for a loan he had made. This contract was full of mistakes. I asked him: “Since you invested a large sum, why didn’t you pay a small fee to a lawyer to check the text of this contract?” Now his loan is not sufficiently secure. In Ukraine there is no tradition of providing legal assistance as in western countries. In some countries it is impossible to buy property without a lawyer. I consider this a good tradition, because a lawyer is the guarantor of the agreement. I think that in the future, maybe in 10 years, all important deals in Ukraine will be closed only in the presence of a lawyer, as it is done in developed countries.
There are many lawyers in Odessa. What is the specialisation of De-Jure?
It is true, there are too many lawyers in the city, today. In recent years a lot of people have graduated from our Odessa National Law Academy.
Our De-Jure Law Firm is strong in some specific areas: we deal with real estate, construction and medical law, with five lawyers specialising in the latter. We work with some construction companies and help individuals to buy or renovate their property. Tax law and Court trials are among our services, as well.
Do you also have international clients? What are their recurring needs?
Today, we have many international clients, most of them are from Israel. Several years ago, De-Jure was recognised as the first law firm in Ukraine working with Israeli law firms. At that time we created a project of legal assistance in Kyiv for safe investments in Ukraine: more than 150 investors participated in this project and invested in the country. Before the coronavirus pandemic, we had another project ready for private investors in Odessa and other Ukrainian cities.
We have extensive experience in real estate investment. It is not difficult to make good investments in these industries, even with a low start-up capital. Real estate in Israel is very expensive, but in Ukraine you can invest even 50 thousand dollars and get a good profit. In Ukraine the profit is still higher than in other countries. It is possible to legally get yields of 5% to 10%. Someone promises higher profits, but I cannot guarantee that they are all legal.
We also have clients from the USA, Turkey and other countries. We work as a consulting company. We provide information on how to invest money and what to avoid, what the legal form of work in Ukraine is, how to start a company in Ukraine, how to get a work permit. We also carry out due diligence of real estate to check if it is possible to purchase it and which are the risks.
Do you like your job? What makes it interesting?
I really like my job. I consider myself lucky because every morning, getting out of bed, I go to work in a good mood. And when I return home after work, I am still in a great mood. In my opinion, this is what is happiness is.
You know, I have a very interesting job, because I always use my head, meet many people and get a lot of information and need to identify the correct task to find the right solution. Of course, we are very happy when we manage to help someone. We usually do not deal with criminal law; although we have specialists in our team, this is not our main sphere of interest. I do not really like to work in this area. It is more motivating for me to help someone successfully buy property or protect his investment.
If you were born again, who would you like to be?
I am a really happy person. Of course, I made mistakes, sometimes it seemed to me that I needed to do something new, but I would not change my profession. There is a nice short story by O. Henry called ‘The roads we take’; it is a story of a man who went in one direction and at the end of the novel he realized that his life could be different. It got me thinking.
Is there a song/music that you never get bored of listening to?
I like classical music. My wife is a pianist, she went to a music school and she teaches music, that’s why I do not play any musical instrument. I have lived with my wife for 20 years and, therefore, today I am an experienced listener of classical music. That’s why I like listening to popular classical music regularly.
In case of a nuclear cataclysm, which book or movie would you save for humanity?
‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy, but this is my personal preference. When it comes to cinematography, I would choose some comedy film.
A journey or experience that you would like to have, but never had the time to do it.
I want to organise a trip to South America, I have never been there. I want to visit Rio de Janeiro and other cities. And I also want to see Antarctica.
10 years ago, I started trekking in the mountains, I even reached the top of 6 high mountains, such as: Kilimanjaro, Elbrus. Not climbing, but trekking. And I would like to do it more.
A dream of yours that has not yet come true.
I want to change my country. For sure, I would like to live in a happier country, with richer and protected people.
As for my personal plans, I want to spend the winter in a warm country. Maybe in Miami, maybe in another place, but I know that in a few years I will do it.
Which is the best way to contact your Firm for information or request of legal assistance?
The simplest way is to use our website or to call our office in Odessa: +38 048 777 2767.
Interview by Ugo Poletti, Editor-in-Chief of The Odessa Journal