New network, Spilka, helps 350 Ukrainian lawyers develop careers

Via Legal Futures

A network set up by Ukrainian lawyers at a City law firm has helped over 350 lawyers fleeing the country to develop careers in the UK.

It is also looking at the legal issues and capability that will be required when the country begins to rebuild.

Spilka describes itself as a community “committed to Ukraine’s postwar recovery and the implementation of the rule of law”.

Spilka, which means ‘community’ in Ukrainian, was launched early last year by lawyers at Kennedys and provides educational resources, English tutoring, in-person and online events.

Four lawyers from Kennedys, which has a Ukrainian desk, are on the leadership team. Partner Alexandra Rodina said the network aimed to “empower and support displaced legal professionals by providing them with a sense of belonging, valuable guidance and an opportunity to enhance their English language skills” to help them secure jobs in the UK.

“Through one-to-one interactions with a range of volunteers from Kennedys, we aim to bridge the gap, restore hope and prepare these talented individuals for a successful return to their legal careers in the future.”

The other Kennedys lawyers in the leadership team are consultant Konstantin Saranchuk, legal director Alexander Scard and Natalia Hniezdilova, a litigation assistant.

They are joined by Oleg Shaulko, managing associate at City law firm Stephenson Harwood, and Nataliia Savonik, formerly contract co-ordinator at Shell and now head of legal at a nuclear power station in Ukraine.

Spilka provides an English language programme connecting Ukrainian lawyers with native English speakers, a CV submission platform provided by recruiters Taylor Root and a series of practical webinars.

There are also, in collaboration with the University of Law, monthly lectures on topics such as freedom of expression, with a number of states regulating content, and the role of non-governmental organisations in international law.

Alexandr Chernykh, a banking and finance lawyer for over 20 years and the deputy head of the commercial law committee of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, was allocated Mr Scard as a language mentor when he joined Spilka.

Mr Chernykh commented: “I have been so pleased to be able to discuss the law and the language of law with other practising lawyers.

“The British legal system has given me new faith in the power of our profession. For those Ukrainian lawyers who are now in Britain, I think being part of Spilka will allow them to absorb British legal logic and rules, and the standards of the profession, which if they choose to return to Ukraine they can carry into the Ukrainian legal system”.

Maryna Makarova, a Ukrainian lawyer working as an analyst at a City law firm, who has attended lectures at the University of Law and English language tutoring sessions, said: “Being a part of the Spilka community presents a valuable opportunity to enhance one’s understanding of UK law, broaden legal networks, and refine English language proficiency.

“My objective is to transition my Ukrainian qualification to the SQE [Solicitors Qualifying Exam] pathway and qualify as a UK lawyer.”

Network helps 350 Ukrainian lawyers develop careers