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Multiple Offices: A Strategy For Growth
INTELLECT-S, with offices in five locations, has a fairly broad geography of presence across the nation by Russian standards.
INTELLECT-S, with offices in five locations, has a fairly broad geography of presence across the nation by Russian standards. Apart from the headquarters in Yekaterinburg (the Urals), we have offices in Perm (also in theUrals, since 2006), Nizhny Novgorod (Central Russia, since 2008), Moscow, and Novosibirsk, Siberia (both since 2011). As a matter of fact, permanent presence outside the home location is new for a young provincial firm; few firms in the provinces, even established, can boast more than two offices. For INTELLECT-S, multiple offices are a strategy.
We open our offices following a few strategic guidelines:
- the location must be an economic and business hub;
- our future partner(s) — or the new team — must share our values;
- we keep a single leadership for all locations;
- we use advanced, IT-based telecoms to work in a single communication space and interact online, Cloud-like; and
- we technify and standardize our flows and procedures across offices in line with the advance of IT, both customized and made to order.
Inside the system: The works
INTELLECT-S offices make a single integrated company led by the board of partners. The board also includes the office and key practice heads.
The integration means that all the five offices use identical standards and business policies and procedures. Our other integrating (and cost-cutting) elements are shared single Finance, HR, Development & Marketing and Secretarial Support. The offices share a single PSA and CRM system, intranet, e-document management system and a call center in Yekaterinburg, so that any INTELLECT-S client in whichever location can dial locally his attorney in any other of the cities wherever (s)he is.
Each client case is attended to by a team of experts selected for their qualification rather than for being in the client's location. Frequently none of the team members lives or works where the client is. The advanced IT and real-time communication permits a combined Moscow and Yekaterinburg expert team to advise a client in Novosibirsk on a complex patent matter, because the firm's best patent talent is in Yekaterinburg, while the patent office, Rospatent, is in Moscow.
Client perspective: What gives?
We are fully aware of the broad geography and mobility of our clients' business in Russia. Business often takes every Russian entrepreneur, wherever he is based, to Moscow. We are as mobile and flexible, and closely follow our clients and span the vast distances of Russia for them, both through our physical presence and online, reducing the need for client travel and personal attendance.
INTELLECT-S, and primarily its management, sees in the multi-location presence more than the opportunity to tap local talent and local markets or merely to boost local sales. For our clients, our local presence and outreach mean accessible, both in terms of price and distance, quality legal advice. Multiple offices reduce dramatically, if not eliminate altogether, attorney travel expenses and, more importantly, travel time — both substantial in a nation like Russia.
The strategy we have taken is the same as generally adopted in the international market, primarily by US and global law firms, says INTELLECT-S Development Director Anastasia Makhneva. "Leading Russian firms are following suit. All big and medium legal service providers will be doing so sooner or later.
Potential clients in Moscow benefit too.
Services by choice regional professionals of comparable quality are way less expensive than advice and representation by well-known firms based in Moscow," says INTELLECT-S managing partner Evgeny Shestakov. A Moscow company can certainly retain a firm next door to structure a transaction and draft documentation, a routine job for any professional. But engaging a firm out of the Urals, whose operating expenses are considerably lower, will make the service far less expensive. An rep office in Moscow is a logical next move in the firm's development, also targeting better quality for clients doing business both in the capital and locally, Shestakov says.