Tetyana Gavrysh: Ac­tive in health care, cham­pion of Kharkiv

Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly - - Contents - By Rahim Ra­hem­tulla r.ra­hem­[email protected]

Grow­ing up, Tetyana Gavrysh wanted to be a doc­tor. But when the cru­cial time be­fore her univer­sity years came, she opted to fol­low in the foot­steps of her fa­ther and train to be­come a lawyer.

She doesn't re­gret the de­ci­sion. But her child­hood in­ter­ests re­main and she does pro bono work for Ukraine's Min­istry of Health. By im­prov­ing the na­tion's health care, she is able to ex­press her life­long in­ter­est in medicine.

“My fo­cus is med­i­cal re­form, this is my chal­lenge now,” she told the Kyiv Post. “I be­lieve my in­put in this process will be great and the po­si­tion of doc­tors will be bet­ter, so it’s good for me.”

Gavrysh, a man­ag­ing part­ner at law firm ILF since 2000, said the goal of work­ing with the health min­istry is to cre­ate a new en­vi­ron­ment where graft has no chance to flour­ish. “The roots of cor­rup­tion — and in the med­i­cal sphere too — are when state money is in the hands of small groups of peo­ple,” she said.

Gavrysh has faith in the progress un­der way in health care. But the same can­not be said for Ukraine's dis­trusted and dis­cred­ited ju­di­cial sys­tem.

Al­though a new Supreme Court is be­ing cho­sen, it is still of­ten bet­ter to re­solve dis­putes out­side of Ukraine, be­cause bribes can still buy fa­vor­able court de­ci­sions in Ukraine.

“I don’t be­lieve in its suc­cess now be­cause of cor­rup­tion,” she said. “It’s an un­pre­dictable process for me as a lawyer."

Look­ing east

Part of what sets ILF apart, says Gavrysh, is that it is the only one ranked in­side the top 15 (by in­dus­try pub­li­ca­tion Yuridich­eskaya Pravda) which has an of­fice in the eastern city of Kharkiv. ILF’S Kharkiv of­fice is bigger than its of­fice in Kyiv and is home to a larger share of the prac­tice’s 50 lawyers, al­though more of the firm’s clients are in the Ukrainian cap­i­tal. But Gavrysh and her fel­low part­ners ex­pect this to change.

“The main of­fice is in Kharkiv, this was our

de­ci­sion,” she said. “Kharkiv is the sec­ond city in Ukraine and the main city in the east of Ukraine. It has a great num­ber of pos­si­bil­i­ties. We be­lieve that busi­ness will de­velop there.”

Part of the trend in Kharkiv is help­ing busi­nesses re­ori­ent them­selves to­ward Europe and away from Rus­sia, in the wake of Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Ukraine’s Crimean penin­sula in 2014 and the Krem­lin’s on­go­ing war in the Don­bas, which has claimed 10,000 lives.

Gavrysh said the shift has been tougher on larger state en­ter­prises than smaller pri­vate busi­nesses.

“Be your­self. It doesn't mat­ter what you do. Be your­self and act on your val­ues.”

“Busi­ness is try­ing to find new mar­kets now,” she said. “We’re sup­port­ing small and medium-sized busi­ness in places like Europe and Asia. It’s some­thing new and it has changed the en­vi­ron­ment in the re­gion com­pletely. Kharkiv is very Euro­pean now.”

In gen­eral, ILF’S client base is a mix­ture of Ukrainian and in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses. But as a re­sult of be­ing lo­cated in Kharkiv, one of the most prom­i­nent prac­tice ar­eas has be­come cases of in­di­vid­u­als and en­ter­prises lo­cated in Rus­sian-oc­cu­pied eastern Don­bas.

Plain­tiffs in such cases are seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion from Ukraine and Rus­sia at the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights over dam­ages to their prop­erty and liveli­hood in the war. Gavrysh told the Kyiv Post ILF is work­ing on 15 such cases and that no con­crete de­ci­sions from the court are likely for at least an­other 18 months. But she is con­fi­dent.

“It’s not easy to say be­cause this is only the first such ex­pe­ri­ence at the Euro­pean Court. We be­lieve that both coun­tries will pay.”

Stand­ing out

Es­tab­lished in 1994, ILF is one of the older law firms on the Ukrainian mar­ket. But that does not mean it is com­pla­cent. The op­po­site is true, she said. Each year, the firm holds sum­mer schools for em­ploy­ees.

“I like the start-up ap­proach. I have an idea, a con­cept, we quickly turn it into a prod­uct and test it,” Gavrysh said. “It’s not easy but it’s pos­si­ble. A lot of old-style, tra­di­tional lawyers don’t be­lieve in this ap­proach. Some­times my col­leagues look at me and say: ‘she’s strange.’ But I like it.”

Go­ing against con­ven­tional wis­dom could be called a hall­mark of Gavrysh’s style. As one of the few women to have reached the top of her pro­fes­sion, she al­ready stands out. She is “very sen­si­tive” to the gen­der is­sue, she said, al­though it has not been a pro­fes­sional dis­ad­van­tage. Suc­cess ul­ti­mately comes down to one thing: “Be your­self. It doesn’t mat­ter what you do. Be your­self and act on your val­ues.”

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