OCA Magazine: Please could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Tatiana Sharposhikova: I was born and brought up in Moscow, Russia. I came to the UK in 1993 to study for six months, but fate had different plans for me as I have now lived in this country for over twenty three years. Sounds scary, no?
My first few years in the UK were not very happy. My marriage to my then husband, an English man, broke down and I was left on my own to raise our son. These were very difficult times. Being a single mum is never easy, but for me it was even harder. My husband went on a business trip to Slovakia for what was supposed to be a week and never came back. Only a few months later I found out from a mutual friend that he already had another family there and was expecting a child with his new wife-to-be. I was left, literally, “holding a baby”. Well, not quite a baby, my son was just over 4 years old. I was a student at the time studying at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Needless to say, my son and I had very little money as my ex-husband decided that he didn’t want anything to do with us, so we had no support from him. It is then I had to make a very big decision, one which would define the rest of my life; do I stay at university and try to survive with a young child on my hands or do I give up this ‘silly’ dream to become a lawyer and go and get a job to support us both? Well, since I’m here today and chatting with you, you can guess what my decision was; fast-forward eighteen years and here we are, my son is twenty two and I am now introducing you to my law firm, Red Square London.
OCA: Tatiana, you lead a unique Russian-speaking company in the UK. Tell us about the history of Red Square London?
TS: Red Square London was set up over 5 years ago, as an answer to a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution for the needs of the Russian-speaking community in the UK. After qualifying as an English solicitor I worked in a number of law firms in London, the last being a very large American firm, Squire Sanders (as it was called back then). I worked in its London and Moscow offices as a corporate law solicitor. The firm’s Russian-speaking clients would often ask me to assist with various non-legal matters; advice on setting up a business, assistance with domestic employment, finding a good school for children, relocating elderly parents to the UK, recommending a good interior designer or a removal company. At the same time our team was assisting these clients with the legal process of purchasing an apartment in London and handling the immigration matters. It was obvious to me that there was a gap in the market for a combined legal firm and a family office, one which dealt with the issues foreign families may encounter in this country.
My friend, John, had a business and premises. Our first office was a small room in the basement of that building. It had one small desk, a few chairs and a computer – Red Square London was born. Five years later we moved to our current offices in Central London, at Russell Square, and the team has grown from one to ten people, with plans to add a few more solicitors in the next few months.
OCA: Tell us more about your career achievements? How did you decide to move to the UK?
TS: I came as a student-tourist, met my husband whilst in the country and ended up staying. I studied International & European Law at the University of Kent in Canterbury. It was a 4 year degree; the third year being spent in the Netherlands and the fourth and final year being back at the University of Kent. I then undertook a Legal Practice Course, which is a compulsory 12 month course at law school, before starting a 2 year training contract with one of the top ten law firms in London, Denton Wild Sapte (as it was called then). I qualified in September 2004 and have been practising law since then, for almost 13 years.
OCA: Your company is a family office. Why did you choose to present it this way?
TS: Red Square London is not just a family office. It is primarily a law firm. We hold a full legal licence, granted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We added the family office and notary services to our range of offerings due to the popular demand from our clients and the families that we look after. As a law firm we support our clients with their immigration matters, corporate and business law, as well as legal support when clients buy and sell real estate. As a family office and notary department we support our clients with all their day to day non-legal matters, like property search, business set up, accountancy and pay roll matters, income and corporate tax self-assessment to the HMRC and many other questions that may arise here in the UK (in addition to their notary requirements).
OCA: Your team consists of qualified lawyers, accountants and business consultants. You specialise in immigration, property law, corporate and company law. What issues do you most commonly deal with?
TS: We do have different specialists in the office, including immigration and property solicitors, corporate lawyers, experienced business consultants, an accountant and a number of Russian-speaking paralegals. Investor and Entrepreneur visas are popular instructions, we do have extensive experience with the Sole Representative visa and Sponsor Licence applications for companies which desire to engage non-European workers, as well as Indefinite Leave to Remain and citizenship applications. The firm is also Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This accreditation is important to us as it is a confirmation from the SRA that we do have all required processes and procedures to safeguard clients’ money and to deliver conveyancing services (legal support when buying and selling real estate) to the highest standard.
OCA: You’ve successfully run a company for so many years. Could you share with us your secret to success?
TS: I am afraid there is no secret. It is all about hard work, loving what you do and delivering results. We genuinely love our clients and our families. With some we have a very longstanding relationship, we actually relocated them to the UK and continue looking after them and their affairs in the UK. We want them to be successful in all their projects, be it application for citizenship or purchase of their family home.
OCA: Besides the fact that you are engaged in the business of your clients, your company also writes various publications to share experience and knowledge. Do you have more projects to help those who are not familiar with the local laws?
TS: We do like to share our expertise and experience. We have written on many subjects relating to business set up, immigration and property dealings in the UK. We try to not solely advise on the law of any particular subject, but also offer practical advice on how to most efficiently deal with certain matters here in the UK.
OCA: You are actively developing your company and recruiting talented people. What are the plans of Red Square London in the near future?
TS: We are planning to grow this year to a strong team of 15-18 people. We currently have 10 professionals working for the business, offering advice and assistance to the Russian-speaking community in the UK and our clients who continue living in the former Soviet Union countries who have business or property interests here.