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Arzinger has announced that Klim Stashevsky, the head of the firm’s International Trade practice group, has been invited to become a partner of the firm, effective December 1st, 2017. 

Times are tough for leading law firms in Belarus right now, struggling as they are against a faltering economy, a state-controlled market, and mixed regard for lawyers. Nonetheless, many of the country’s senior private practitioners insist they are optimistic. The future is, as always, right around the corner.

At 30 years old, the Belarusian legal market is still relatively young. The end of the 1980s and early 1990s was a time of new economic relations; the first non-state companies appeared and the first foreign investors entered the market. These new economic conditions required lawyers focused on economic law, and soon the first Belarusian private law firms and individual practitioners appeared. Some of them (including the Law Laboratory, which was founded in 1990 by me and my colleague Natalia Kozyrenko and which later transformed into Vlasova and Partners) remain the “top dogs” on the Belarusian market today.  

The commercial legal markets of Central & Eastern Europe didn’t appear automatically. They didn’t develop in a vacuum. They were formed, shaped, and led, by lawyers – visionary, hard-working, commercially-minded, and client-focused individuals pulling the development of CEE’s legal markets along behind them as they labored relentlessly for their clients, their careers, their futures. 

As a prominent IT-hub in CEE, Belarus gave life to quite a few players in the international IT arena, including EPAM, Wargaming.net, Viber, MAPS.ME, MSQRD, Prisma, and many, many others. More and more Western software and hardware companies are entering into long-term partnerships or other contractual relationships with Belarusian talent. In this context, the basic principles of Belarusian legal regulations that govern the protection and transfer of IP rights related to software are increasingly important. 

Stepanovski, Papakul & Partners has assisted the EBRD with several recent transactions involving loans to large Belarusian borrowers: A July 6, 2017 agreement to loan up to EUR 15 million to IOOO Svuds Export, and a July 25, 2017 agreement to loan EUR 5 million to CJSC Clean Beach.

The 2017 CEE Legal Matters General Summit took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Warsaw on June 1-2, 2017, once again bringing together well over a hundred General Counsel and Heads of Legal from across Central and Eastern Europe for two full days (and one entertaining evening) of seminars, panel discussions, best practices review, and networking. This year’s event — the third annual, following the 2015 GC Summit in Budapest and the 2016 GC Summit in Istanbul — was the biggest and most successful yet.

On May 31 and June 1, 2017, CEE Legal Matters was proud to host a rare event: A gathering of those senior lawyers from each Central and Eastern European country identified by peers as being most influential, most important, most uniquely responsible for having created the country’s modern commercial legal market.

“The country is still in recession” says Sergei Makarchuk, Partner at CHSH in Belarus, pointing to an approximately 3% decrease in GDP recorded in Belarus in 2016. Bankruptcy in the corporate sector is on the increase, he reports, with the economic courts’ docket “overflowing” with such cases. The purchasing power in the economy has slowly decreased as a result of lower income and decreased spending power for the middle class.

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