TSARINA RUSKOVA: CHANGING BULGARIA ONE STEP AT A TIME
The legal council from Ruskova & Partners Law Firm works hard on making Bulgaria a more just place
Dreaming big and working hard for achieving positive change for herself and the world has always come naturally for Tsarina Ruskova. As a teenager, she made the bold step to graduate International Law from Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne with additional qualifications in International Investments, Commercial Law and Commercial Arbitrage. Instead of chasing opportunities abroad, she returned to Bulgaria and became legal counsel at Ruskova & Partners Law Firm. She focused on startups, media and energy law, but for personal reasons she also became interested in renewable energy sources, environment protection and the improvement of the overall environmental climate in Bulgaria. We talked to this truly inspirational woman to learn more about her motivation.
What does it mean, in your opinion, to be a successful female lawyer in Bulgaria? Have you noticed a different attitude between you and your male colleagues?
I think that being a successful woman nowadays is hard everywhere, but that in Bulgaria for women is probably a bit easier due to the legacy of Communism – gender equality here is a lot more genuine than in most other European countries. In this sense here nowadays we lack the classical division lines between the sexes that we see in Western societies. However, working in law demands constant work, devotion and a lot of time, so often you may find me agree that this profession is a rather male field. We, women, have responsibilities not only towards our jobs, but also to our families, homes and ourselves; in this respect being a successful woman means being ready to pay a heavier price. In the meantime, there are moments when we all just crave to be simply beautiful and to stay calmly in our cosy homes.
What was the most important thing that you learned at the Sorbonne?
When I left for Paris, Bulgaria had just joined the EU and contrary to my expectations, people in France struggled to find my country on the map. The first thing I learned there was to proudly stand up for myself and my motherland. I realised that we, Bulgarians, have a very broad general culture, probably because we choose our vocation and start specialising later in life, that we are very adaptable and when we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we usually excel in solving it. The Sorbonne is a test for hard work and perseverance that inevitably grind every 19-year-old soul, often through a lot of sweat and tears. However, probably the most important thing that I have taken with me from my time at the Sorbonne was my attitude towards the law. There, they taught us how to truly learn and to think, not to blindly quote some article from some Act, but to be able to decide in what direction the law should evolve, what is truly just, and most of all that one will not always find the right answers explicitly put in words, but must rather learn to actively search for them. Seemingly, along with teaching us law, our professors were pushing us towards the direction we should move as individuals in the name of contributing to a more just society.
What, in your opinion, are the qualities that help women in a field like law?
By all means multitasking! Very often I see male colleagues losing the line of their thought when they have to answer the phone while they are writing an email on an unrelated topic at the same time. Meanwhile, doing the same, a woman can plan her next meeting, what she is going to cook for dinner and make herself a cup of coffee. Of course, I am saying this tongue in cheek, but by all means we, women, play many social roles and this adaptability is definitely invaluable in our profession.
You work mainly with foreign clients. What do you advise them in order to be successful?
Since I returned to Bulgaria, I have witnessed a lot of positive changes here and I am happy that a growing number of businesses decide to step on our markets. I believe that the most important factor for success in a new jurisdiction is to be able to adapt to the local social and political specificities. Yes, Bulgaria is still lagging in fields like full digitalisation of administrative services for instance, but we have other advantages – we still have the opportunity to connect and communicate with real people, not with AI. Here everything could be on a smaller scale, but this enables us to create true partnerships and cohesive teams. In this part of my work, I believe that all of us have also an additional mission – to help the development of Bulgaria, because we have real and many opportunities here. And it is up to us to identify and underline them in the name of our clients' best interests.
In which field do you think Bulgaria should put the most effort?
I admit that this topic is very personal to me and I can say a lot of things, but if I have to choose one, it would be – education and science. I think that what Edward Everet said is even more true today: "Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army." Today, we are living in times when our freedoms and rights are being violated quietly, constantly and, rather menacingly, with impunity. The future will belong to people who are able to see through the falsehoods and fear, which are being forced on us on a regular basis, and to people that stand up and fight for their values and dreams. Unfortunately, this is impossible to be achieved by people who do not know their national history, have for instance never got moved by the poems of the Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsarov or by Dostoyevsky's works, who do not speak foreign languages, do not read books and do not give their seat in the tram to the elderly. All of these are learned both at home and at school and are all related in some sort to the education that make us who we are as People.
What was the most important lesson that you learned at Ruskova & Partners, and why?
Since I was a little girl, my parents, who are alumni of the German ideas that you need to continue the work of your family when choosing a career path, were constantly telling me that the best thing in one's professional life is to have someone's support, a wise advisor, a family member with whom to work together. To be honest, probably because of this, for years I would even refuse to consider a career in law. I was unable to imagine myself taking the beaten path. But now, from the distance of time, I admit that such support is invaluable. It is one thing to struggle and search for your career path on your own, it is a completely different thing when a well-meaning family member guides you through your errors and helps you avoid the ones he already made in the name of your future progress. Today, I truly cherish the beauty of this continuance and the opportunity to be able to upgrade and contribute to the hard work of the people who I love and respect, who have supported me and who now I can support in my turn.
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