Rumen Kotoff
Rumen Kotoff
Founder at Kotoff & Partners

In the decades prior to the disintegration of the Soviet block the dominant Marxist-Leninist theory prophesied that the legal profession was soon to become extinct, hence,  lawyers were considered  temporary but necessary evil, remnants of the capitalist society who would dissipate in the “near bright communist future”. Of course, this notion was disbelieved and ridiculed (though not in public) by most of the people/lawyers at the time, including Rumen’s father who had been practicing law since the mid-1930s and had lived long enough in pre-communist Bulgaria to be immune to communist propaganda.

Rumen followed in the footsteps of his father – a well-known and respected (even by the communists) lawyer. In the distant 1978 he passed the entrance exams into the law faculty at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, the only law faculty in Bulgaria at the time, together with another 140 freshmen students. That was the number of the chosen ones who aspired to practice the “doomed” legal profession. After 2 years of mandatory army service, 5 years of study and apprenticeship, as well as passing state exams, Rumen wanted to become neither a judge, nor a district attorney, nor an in-house lawyer in the numerous state enterprises. He decided to step in the shoes of his father (retired at the time) – so he accepted a junior solicitor position in a relatively big town, 200 km away from Sofia. It was during these 2 years of “pure” law – litigation only, when Rumen gained his experience as a practicing lawyer, representing clients in both criminal and civil law cases.

Shortly after his return to Sofia, the Berlin wall fell, and the Bar Association was open to everybody. The early 1990s were difficult times for lawyers because of the never ending changes in the legal framework, the newly emerging (or forgotten) branches of commercial, corporate, and administrative law, the new judges in the courts, contradicting court precedents, and as a result – the lack of certainty in the outcome even of a simple case. In those early years of capitalism few lawyers were fluent in foreign languages: Rumen had the rare chance to build up a non-Bulgarian clientele of entities and individuals due to his fluency in English. Little by little, following the principle “The happy client brings another client,” Rumen took the opportunity and developed his own law firm. Soon he attracted younger lawyers as his assistants and taught them himself the tricks of the trade. Nowadays, all of them are his partners, including one of his daughters. Kotoff & partners boasts of the fact that all six lawyers have worked in the firm for more than a decade, some of them for more than 20 years. It is a solid “collective” (in communist terms), loyal to the law firm, and to its clients. “Fewer but richer clients” – this is the governing principle for some utilitarian-oriented lawyers and law firms. At Kotoff & partners we value each client and his/her case, irrespective of the financial incentives. Our motto is “The job must be done”instead of “Counting more hours”.

Outside the law firm and the time spent with clients, judges, and other lawyers, Rumen is attracted to sailing. He has done two Atlantic crossings in his own sailboat, has sailed her through the whole Mediterranean, and has great sailing plans for the near future. Currently, his sailboat Krone 1 takes part in the sailing races in the Black Sea. The long and lonely watches during the journeys in the high seas provide the perfect moments of relaxation and freedom from the rat race of the 21st century.