Lauren first started working with Jim Wright, who is a partner at Shulmans, back in November 2017 at their Wellington Street office. Jim enlisted Lauren's help to to help him learn Russian from scratch, and naturally, Lauren jumped at the chance. Shulmans have gone from strength to strength in recent years, They are a truly international business, working with partners across the globe. Jim decided to start learning Russian after building some exciting new relationships with firms in Moscow. Jim was also preparing to jet off to Moscow to attend the prestigious international Interlegal Society Conference.
We sat down with Jim to speak to him about his experience learning Russian.
Jim, why did you start to learn Russian?
We’re a top 200 corporate law firm that works nationally and internationally, but based in Leeds. Our business and that of our clients is increasingly international. Russia, in particular, is one of those jurisdictions where knowing a little of the language goes a very long way. I was also very keen to prepare and make the most out of attending the Interlegal General Meeting in Moscow in May 2018. This ended up being a seven day business trip to Moscow with many meetings, visits to the traditional and more modern tourist sites, talks and way of building relationships with Russian businesses and financial institutions.
Can you tell us about your exciting work with Russia?
Russia joined the common reporting standard for profit (CRS) in 2018, putting them on a par with most international market economies. As such, many of the concerns about a lack of financial transparency, money laundering risks and broader concerns about doing business in Russia have begun to disappear. Shulmans has found itself working with our Moscow partner law firm on cross border matters. I have also spoken at two international tax conferences in Moscow, visited potential clients in St Petersburg and found ourselves pitching for work from one of the largest Russian banks against far larger law firms than ourselves. Knowing enough Russian was a key part of this to establish credibility - that was where Lauren came in.
How are you finding learning Russian? Is it as hard as people might think?
Possibly surprisingly, I had never really learnt any other languages before, let alone one with a different alphabet! Although it was, and continues to be a challenge, I’ve been guided through it in a structured way which suited my natural (in)ability. Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come.
How has learning the language positively benefited you?
Not only is learning Russian completely different and, as such, a real challenge, it has been great to see it pay off in terms of me being able to have basic conversations with Russians. A little effort goes a long way and my hesitating, sometimes not quite correct Russian was always met with warm smiles and gratitude in a nation where English is not widely spoken.
Would you recommend Lauren at BonBon Languages to others?
"без сомнения" – which is Russian for "without a doubt!"