Orientation for Best Legal Practice

Orientation for Best Legal Practice

In dynamic and constantly developing societies, legal practice is constantly evolving, and the standards of success are also changing. In the transformative wave of this direction in Georgia, the legal firm “JG COUNSELORS” has its own say, whose activities are currently headed by Sergi Jorbenadze, Akaki Gatserelia and Ushangi Bakhtadze, together with professionals.

Legal firm “JG COUNSELORS” appeared on the Georgian market in 2017. In a highly competitive field, the firm founded by Sergi Jorbenadze, Akaki Gatserelia and Ushangi Bakhtadze quickly gained a high reputation and its own place.

Sergi Jorbenadze works as a lawyer in the field of business law and media law, and has been practicing for more than 12 years. Doctor of Law of Tbilisi State University and Master of Law of Bremen University shares his academic experience with new generations as a lecturer of Tbilisi State University. At the same time, Sergi Jorbenadze holds the role of an arbitrator in the “Dispute Review Center” LLC, is a certified mediator, insolvency practitioner and expert of the Council of Europe.

Akaki Gatserelia, like his colleague, works in the fields of business law and energy law. A professional with 22 years of legal practice, he is a doctoral candidate of Tbilisi State University and a Master of Laws of Cologne University. At the same time Akaki Gatserelia is a certified mediator and the chairman of the panel of the Ethics Commission of the Association of Mediators, since 2000 he has been engaged in academic activities in the field of private law. Since 2012, he has been elected as an academic staff member of Tbilisi State University.

Ushangi Bakhtadze, founding partner

Ushangi Bakhtadze has been working as a lawyer in criminal law for more than 15 years. Doctor of Law of Tbilisi State University and Master of Science in Criminology of Oxford University, he has been engaged in academic activities for more than 10 years – a professor at Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani University and simultaneously teaches at TSU and other universities. At the same time, Ushangi Bakhtadze works in the European Court of Justice in the direction of proceedings.

The “JG Counselors” firm, which has managers with long-term legal academic expertise and legal practice, serves many industries: architecture, healthcare, education, media business, trade — clients from Georgia and other countries around the world have been trusting the quality-oriented “JG Counselors” for 6 years.

The heads of the law firm attribute the achieved results to the wide range of services and the successful activities of professional teammates. Today, up to 15 professionals work in the team, including lawyers, financiers, accountants, marketing and management specialists, to provide the best service to clients. It is this diverse expertise that enables JG Counselors to provide clients with holistic and high quality services efficiently and in the shortest possible time.

The firm’s several years of successful activity is not only reflected in successfully concluded legal disputes. Since 2019, “JG Counselors” has been a member of the German Economic Association (Deutsche Wirtschaftsvereinigung – DWV). In February of this year, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Georgia included the firm in the list of reliable legal companies. The firm’s client portfolio includes more than 50 foreign companies, mostly from the US, German and Swiss markets.

Forbes spoke to the law firm’s managing partners about “JG Counselors‘” vision and strategic goals.

How does the history of “JG Counselors” begin and what are the main achievements we can talk about today?

Sergi Jorbenadze, managing partner: “JG Counselors” was established in 2017 as a result of the joint efforts of our partners. From the beginning, our vision was based on the desire to synergy extensive academic and professional experience in joint activities. I think what sets us apart from our competitors is our equal involvement in practical and academic areas. It is this situation that allowed us to develop a unique vision and approach that has contributed to the subsequent growth and success of our firm.

Akaki Gatserelia, managing partner: When we talk about success, it is important that the results are not only evaluated within the firm. The effectiveness of our activities is indicated by our business connections and the recognitions we have received over the years. At the beginning of the year, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany included us in the list of reliable legal firms in Georgia. For your information, there are six other law firms on this list with us. This was an important recognition for us. In general, the selection process of law firms for this list is quite pragmatic, and being on the list indicates the firm’s qualifications and expertise. Such innovation also indicates that our services are in line with the standards and requirements of the German market.

Sergi Jorbenadze: We have been a member of the German Economic Association (DWV) for four years now. Through this platform, we actively cooperate with German businesses that want to invest in Georgia. In recent years, interest in Georgia has been growing, and we think that this trend will not change in the coming years either. With the help of DWV, I think we are contributing to the deepening of Georgian-German economic relations..

Sergi Jorbenadze, managing partner

The field of legal services is a very competitive industry. You are competing with a number of local and international law firms. What is your competitive advantage?

Sergi Jorbenadze: I think the primary competitive advantage is the unique knowledge and practical expertise concentrated in our team. Especially in such specific fields as energy law, social media law and others. Personally, I work in the field of media law and social media law in general, and I can say that these fields are new not only in Georgia, but also in the world. Our firm already has concrete disputes in Georgian courts in these areas.

Also, our vision and approaches are an advantage, in particular, the firm’s focus on practical solutions of issues. Instead of theoretical discussions on the issue, we are focused on finding the most optimal solutions for specific problems. With this approach, we not only investigate the case of our clients in depth, but also allow them to easily understand the essence of the problem and solve it in the optimal time frame.

I would also highlight the possibilities that our firm offers to clients: German, English, Russian, Chinese, French, Italian and, of course, Georgian — this is the list of languages in which we can offer our services to them.

Ushangi Bakhtadze, founding partner: It must also be said that we are working on occupying such a niche in the legal market, which is not fully exploited at this stage, be it economic or financial crimes.

At the same time, we offer our clients a service in other areas of criminal law. For example, an internal, confidentiality-oriented investigation, which involves proactively identifying and eliminating potential intra-organizational crime. This allows client companies to avoid possible reputational damage or negative media coverage.

We operate with a strict privacy policy, which ensures that investigations are conducted reasonably and with maximum sensitivity to the client’s needs. Although this service is well established and widely used in Western countries, it is still a novelty in Georgia. Of course, along with this direction, in our company, the client has the opportunity to receive all other types of services related to criminal law. However, our main niche is financial or economic criminal disputes arising from business activities.

Akaki Gatserelia: Among the niche areas, I would also highlight energy law. This direction will acquire an even greater load in Georgia. As you know, we are planning to launch an electric energy exchange, which means a complete change of the existing system in the country. Within the framework of the DCFTA agreement signed with the European Union, Georgia has been developing this field for years. As a result, the importance of the latter increases even more.

As I mentioned, energy law in Georgia is developing now, therefore, the number of specialists in the field is limited in the market. Our firm already offers services in this direction to both local and international clients.

Akaki Gatserelia, managing partner

Since 2018, “JG Counselors” has also started providing legal services to clients at the European Court of Human Rights. Why is client service at the European Court of Human Rights important and what is your law firm’s success in this regard?

Ushangi Bakhtadze: This service is one of the central directions for us. About 130 appeals are submitted to the Strasbourg court from Georgia every year. According to statistical data, only 10% of these complaints are started with contacting the state. To explain it simply, the initiation of communication by the court with the state means acceptance of the case in court proceedings and indicates that the claim submitted to the Strasbourg court is qualitatively of an acceptable standard. In the case of 60% of the applications submitted by our firm to the European Court of Human Rights, the court established communication with the state, which, in our estimation, is a rather high rate. This once again indicates the client-oriented approach that our firm has.

“We will consider the decision of all three instances of the court on a specific case. Only after a comprehensive assessment we make a decision whether or not to file a complaint with the Strasbourg Court. This process covers the claim review essentially and determining its compliance with the quality standards of the Strasbourg Court. We recognize that assessment, submission and follow-up procedures are complex and labor-consuming, but our team is experienced in managing these complex processes.“          

Tell us about the social responsibility initiatives your company is implementing.

Ushangi Bakhtadze: The initiatives that we implement within the framework of our company’s social responsibility are particularly important to us. First, I would highlight our pro bono direction. Every year, we select several cases based on internal criteria and conduct cases on these cases completely free of charge, including with the involvement of our partner organizations. This practice also helps us to develop organizational capabilities.

Unfortunately, family violence remains an acute problem in Georgia. One of our initiatives deals with this issue. Within the scope of criminal law, we have developed a tool for detecting potential family violence, which helps a person at risk of family violence to detect the risk of violence and avoid it.

We are actively working in the direction of fighting fraud. With the unlimited possibilities of the Internet, one of the most common forms of crime in the digital world is fraud. To deal with this and to raise awareness, we have developed a guide detailing the common type of fraud and the necessary ways to prevent it.

Sergi Jorbenadze: Perhaps no less important is our new initiative aimed at helping startups. In particular, we help those startups that are trying to export their services and products abroad to overcome legal barriers.

However, in addition to long-term social activities, we also respond instantly to new challenges, which are not so few in a rapidly changing region. For example, after the war started by Russia in Ukraine, we offer many services free of charge to Ukrainians and Ukrainian companies.

Finally, we must ask you, what are your future plans?

Akaki Gatserelia: When we talk about the development of a law firm and its entry into international markets, from such a small country as Georgia, it is necessary to significantly increase the awareness and reputation of the company. For this purpose, we cooperate with the world’s leading law firm. This strategic partnership will give us the opportunity to expand our service area and establish even stronger ties in the international market.

Sergi Jorbenadze: In the recent period, the interest of Western international organizations and companies, which were doing business in Russia and Ukraine until now, has especially increased in Georgia. However, there is no less interest in the context of the region as a whole, be it Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan or others. In the past months, we helped about 30 companies of this profile to enter Georgia. Most of them were from Germany (about 75%), with the rest from Ireland, Austria, Italy and Canada. It should be noted that our company currently serves more than 50 foreign companies, mostly from the US, German and Swiss markets, although we have future plans to expand the geographical area.

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