Kazakhstan: Central Asian Legal Services Industry Snapshot

Last Updated: 8 December 2016
Article by Oybek Yuldashev, Rauf Salahodjaev and Zosia Demkowicz


Recent evidence shows that the demand for legal services is growing rapidly every year. Within 2013-14 alone the global legal services industry witnessed 4 percent growth, with the top 10 legal services providers expanding at a rate of 6.7 percent combined compared to the overall market1.

According to Grand View Research2, between 2015 and 2022 the legal services market is expected to experience even higher growth rates due to increased globalisation, a more competitive environment, changing trends in foreign direct investment, economic growth and more modern business structures and transactions.

However, the global economic slowdown means more competition within the markets and less active law firms risk being overtaken by more active and aggressive ones.

Still, the legal services industry seems to be less sensitive and responsive to changes in business cycles3. The size of the global legal services industry shows that the international economic and financial crisis has so far had a negligible impact on the overall demand for legal services.

Considering that transition economies, especially post-Soviet countries, are characterised by more volatile and therefore more uncertain business environments, the interesting questions to address are: what are the current state and future prospects for the legal services industry in Central Asian countries, and how will various economic, individual and social characteristics impact the legal services industry in the coming years?

In this article we shall provide an overview of the legal services industries of five Central Asian (CA) countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, using a primary dataset collected during 2015.

This dataset consists of the results of anonymous surveys and field studies undertaken by Colibri Law Firm in 2015, and includes information on variables relating to the individual characteristics of legal practitioners and the results and makeup of law firms.


The estimated value of the legal services consultancy market in CA is based on survey data of a representative sample of randomly interviewed legal consultancy practitioners. Our final estimations are based on a sample of over 50 legal practitioners who operate in areas such as banking and finance, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, dispute resolution, projects and energy.

To ensure the comparability of the analysis we randomly chose the respondents based on the overall market size, measured by GDP per capita of the country under analysis. The respondents' distribution by country is reflected in Figure 1. The observations in our sample range from 4 law firms in Turkmenistan to 26 in Kazakhstan.

Figure 2 shows the average distribution of the respondents based on their position level. As you can see, over 80 percent of our sample was composed of junior associates, senior associates and associates.

For each of the firms surveyed we calculated their average hourly rates and collected employment characteristics data on a number of employees, such as years of experience, level of education and position.

To estimate the level of productivity of each practitioner we multiplied their average hourly rates by their forecasted monthly average hours of legal work.

These monthly averages were then extrapolated from the data reported by the practitioners and adjusted according to level of education, years of experience in the legal services industry and the firm's overall ranking in the leading legal directory Chambers and Partners Global.


Central Asia Region

According to the results of our study, the overall estimated size of the legal services market in CA is approximately $50 million, and ranges from $45 million to $55 million (see figure 3, below).

The results of our study also suggest that approximately 83 percent of the total CA legal services industry is determined by the revenues of law firms operating in Kazakhstan, with the average annual revenue per legal practitioner in Kazakhstan estimated at around $130,000.

The results for Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan reveal that the legal services markets in these countries are much smaller and account for approximately $1.6 million, $2.2 million, $4 million, and $1.05 million, respectively. At the same time, annual revenues per legal practitioner are far lower and lag behind those of the Kazakh market, with approximately $35-40,000 for Kyrgyzstan, $85–90,000 for Turkmenistan, $80–85,000 for Uzbekistan, and $50-53,000 for Tajikistan.

Turning our attention to the average hourly rates and billable hours of work per month, our findings again indicate significant disparity between the CA countries (see figure 4).

Reported hourly rates of legal practice4, depending on the level of difficulty, are found to range between $150–800 in Kazakhstan, $100-350 in Kyrgyzstan, $100-400 in Turkmenistan, $75-450 in Uzbekistan, and $50-250 in Tajikistan.

However, our estimates show that the actual average hourly rates for legal practice are much lower, at $245-250 in Kazakhstan, $140-150 in Kyrgyzstan, $230-240 in Turkmenistan, $140-145 in Uzbekistan, and $115-120 in Tajikistan.

Similarly, monthly billable hours of work per legal practitioner follow a similar pattern, with around 60-70 hours per month forecasted in Kazakhstan and 25-30 hours per month forecasted in Kyrgyzstan.

These discrepancies are in line with the commonly held opinion regarding the complexities of the corresponding markets. For example, it appears that the Kazakh market has a more sophisticated business environment and marketable supply of legal services. This is especially clear based on the volume of foreign direct investments directed towards the CA region, over 70 percent of which is absorbed by Kazakhstan (OECD, 2013).

Considering that the collected data is much more detailed and complete for Kazakhstan compared with the other four CA countries discussed above, we shall now undertake a more detailed assessment of Kazakhstan's legal services industry.


Market shares of law firms

The overall market distribution of Kazakhstan's legal market is presented in Figure 5. According to our results, the distribution of the market shares of the top 20 firms in Kazakhstan is very varied.

In figure 5, we have subdivided the law firms by origin (whether the firm was founded locally in Kazakhstan or overseas) and area of operation (whether the firm operates solely in Kazakhstan or also outside with affiliations).

The breakdown shows that 95 percent of Kazakhstan's legal market is composed of the revenues of the 20 largest firms. Our estimates show that 3 of the largest firms (2 overseas and 1 local without affiliation outside of Kazakhstan) account for nearly 35 percent of the overall market. Moreover, the average revenue per lawyer in these firms is approximately $240,000.


Figure 6 presents a gender-based breakdown of employment within the Kazakh legal industry. The results show that female practitioners constitute 48 percent of lawyers within the market.

At the same time, the majority of women occupy associate and senior associate positions, with female lawyers rather underrepresented at the partner level. This disparity is common across all the CA countries under analysis (Figure 6).

The survey results for Kazakhstan also reveal that the estimated average monthly workload of female practitioners exceeds the estimated monthly workload of male practitioners by 2 hours.

In contrast, we find that the average hourly rate of female practitioners is $245, compared to $295 per hour for male lawyers.

In addition, female practitioners in Kazakhstan possess on average less experience (6 years) compared to male practitioners, who have an average of 7.5 years of experience in the legal services industry.


According to our projections, 38 percent of the legal market value in Kazakhstan is accounted for by practitioners with more than 5 years' experience within the legal market.

The average annual revenue by practitioner with this level of experience is approximately $233,000, with an average workload of over 65 hours per month.

There is also significant variation in average hourly rates within the legal market. For example, an average rate of $300 is documented for a lawyer with more than 5 years' experience, compared to $245 for a lawyer with fewer than 5 years' legal experience.

To check the hourly rates' sensitivity to additional years of experience for both genders, we applied a multivariate regression analysis. The results of this statistical analysis show that 1 additional year of experience in the legal market increases average hourly rates for both genders by just $5.

This low sensitivity to increased levels of experience is rather surprising and is much lower than has been documented in developed economies.


According to our estimates, the top 20 firms in the Kazakh legal market are very diverse in terms of size.

Our findings suggest that the revenues of firms with less than 10 legal practitioners range from $300,000 to approximately $850,000. Firms with 10-20 legal practitioners are estimated to have average revenues of $2-2.5 million. Finally, our projections indicate that firms with more than 20 practitioners may bring in up to $8-10 million per year.

Hourly rates also differ across Kazakhstan depending on employment levels. For example, on average, small firms with 1-10 lawyers report hourly rates of $250-300 per hour, firms with 10-20 lawyers charge $200-300 per hour, while firms with more than 20 lawyers charge $200-250 per hour.

To check the robustness of our observations, we also estimated the effect of employment (expressed as hours of work) on hourly rates in the market. Our statistical estimations suggest that employment and hourly rates are inversely related in the market: firms with 20 lawyers tend to charge $40-45 less per hour compared to firms with 10 lawyers. Furthermore, the link between employment and hourly rates follows a weak U-shape pattern, with the turning point being 11-12 specialists (see figure 7).

Figure 7

The explanation for this finding is as follows: When a firm has relatively few employees the rates are relatively high as it is composed mainly of partners with extensive experience in the legal market. As the firm starts to expand, the partner-to-associate ratio drops, leading to a reduction in average hourly rates. Once the firm has 11-12 legal practitioners, economies of scale set in (along with the diversification of the legal services provided), enabling the firm to increase its average reported hourly rates.  

Finally, we conducted a "demand analysis" by estimating the sensitivity of workload to the hourly rate in Kazakhstan. Our findings suggest that hourly rates have a negative and statistically significant association with monthly workload. However, the estimated sensitivity of the number of working hours to changes in hourly rates is very small, with an elasticity of 0.1, suggesting that despite the variation of firms within Kazakhstan's legal market in terms of size, education and gender, the competition within the legal market is still weak, with demand relatively insensitive to the pricing of legal services.


Following the above discussion, we make the following conclusions and forecasts for 2016:

  • The sensitivity analysis of demand in the legal services industry in CA indicates that the industry remains relatively uncompetitive, unexplored and promising;
  • Most local firms seem to follow the strategies of leading international firms, particularly with regard to pricing strategies and hourly rates;
  • The key area for local firms is mostly limited to local-currency contracts;
  • International firms successfully dominate the legal industry and their share of the legal market shows no signs of reducing, regardless of the prices of hourly rates;
  • It appears that the key advantages of international firms, compared with local firms, are a more diversified legal services portfolio, richer experience, more aggressive brand promotion and, consequently, better access to foreign-currency contracts.
  • The industry seems to be insensitive to changes in the business cycle, since any loss in one area of legal practice can be compensated by another one.

Considering global economic trends and the results reported here, we expect that the legal services industry in the CA region may see the emergence and creation of new players. This may involve the entrance of new international firms, the establishment of completely new local firms or the creation of new local firms by the partners of previous international firms.

In the case of Kazakhstan, we believe that firms concluding the majority of their legal operations in Tenge-denominated contracts will experience a reduction in profitability. This implies that the key area of competition between law firms will be foreign currency-denominated contracts.

A higher degree of competition in the industry, especially for foreign currency-denominated contracts, may dictate new rules for existing and newly emerging firms. Especially as we begin to see the development of more long-term growth strategies, the diversification of legal services portfolios, a probable change in attitudes towards business operations and the better integration of technology in the provision of services.


The Lawyer (February 25, 2015). "UK firms stand out in global legal services industry". Available at: https://www.thelawyer.com/uk-firms-stand-out-in-global-legal-services-industry/?mm_56bc830682a04=56bc830682aaa

Grand View Research (2015). "Global Legal Services Market Analysis, Market Size, Application Analysis, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies, and Forecasts, 2015 to 2022". Available at: http://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/global-legal-services-market

Deutscher Anwalt Verein & Prognos (2013). "The legal services market 2030".


1. The Lawyer (February 25, 2015)

2. Grand View Research (2015)

3. Deutscher Anwalt Verein & Prognos (2013)

4. In this analysis, we have assumed that legal services include practices such as due diligence, pledge, legal opinion and advisory, financial closure, contracts, memos, loans, shares purchase agreements, joint venture agreements, investment agreements, and other similar services.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions