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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. 

Martin Simovart, Partner and Head of Global Relations at Cobalt in Estonia, is fairly confident about the state of affairs in his country at the moment. “For the first half of the year we saw what we actually predicted — about a five percent rise in GDP — and I hope it’s going to continue. The momentum is there, and I don’t see any indicators that it’s going to slow down. And the overall feeling is fairly positive.”

Slaughter and May and Wolf Theiss were the two Chairman Sponsors of the 2017 General Counsel Summit in Warsaw, and the individuals from both firms who actually chaired the proceedings – Jonathan Marks, Partner at Slaughter and May on Day 1 and Ron Given, Partner at Wolf Theiss on Day 2 – were kind enough to speak with us about their involvement at the event.

The first two special issues of the CEE Legal Matters magazine this year – the annual Looking Back/Looking Forward issue in January and the CEE Corporate Counsel Handbook in April – were familiar to our readers. This one, however, dedicated to the 2017 CEE GC Summit and the CEE Legal Matters Market Makers Awards, is new.

Building upon the successes of the three past regional GC Summits in Budapest, Istanbul, and Warsaw, CEE Legal Matters is excited to be hosting the Hungary GC Summit – our first ever country-specific GC event. We sat down with the Chairman of the conference, Miklos Orban, Partner at Orban & Perlaki, to get his thoughts about the upcoming event. More information about the event itself can be found on the event website, here

In The Corner Office, we invite Senior and Managing Partners at law firms from across the region to share information about their careers, management styles, and strategies. For this issue, we asked them to describe their least favorite part of their jobs. 

On April 4, 2017, the Hungarian Parliament passed via an expedited procedure an amendment to the country’s Higher Education Act (Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education) requiring, among other things, that foreign universities not based in the EU: (1) operate under a formal agreement between their country of origin and the Hungarian government; and (2) maintain campuses and offer degree programs in their country of origin. It was signed into law on April 10, 2017.

Last year the Hungarian Ministry of Justice prepared a new Attorney Act that would radically re-structure the current regulatory approach to in-house counsel. GCs of leading companies in Hungary were given the opportunity to share their views in the process, giving them a rare occasion to pause and collectively consider the nature of this branch of the legal profession which in its few decades of existence has grown so much in significance.

Czech lawyers, not known for ebullience, are nonetheless finding it hard to keep the smiles off their faces. After a decade of disappointment and struggle, if the Managing Partners at Czech firms are to be believed, the last remnants of the global financial crisis have dissipated and business is booming. As spring rolls through Central Europe, the sunshine is both meteorological and metaphoric. Prague is basking in the warmth.

A friend of mine, who’s a partner in a Hungarian law firm, told me this week that those of us living in the Czech Republic are “lucky to have a domestic economy.” In making this comment, he was contrasting the Czech situation with Hungary’s relatively high dependence on foreign direct investment (FDI) and to a degree of stagnation affecting his country at the moment. 

Ranking services form a critical part of the law firm landscape in CEE as around the world, and law firm marketing and business development functions in the region spend many weeks or months each year preparing their submissions for those ranking services they believe are most widely read and influential. Still, not everybody is convinced the ranking services are as effective or valuable as they could be. Thus, for this issue, we asked the law firm marketing and BD experts around CEE: “What one change would you most like to see made to the law firm rankings to make them more useful/effective?” 

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