27
Thu, Jul
52 New Articles

More than 27 years have passed since I became a lawyer back in 1990, and there’s not so much that can really surprise me anymore. My country (at that time called Yugoslavia) went through hyperinflation, a war with its neighbors, UN sanctions, a NATO bombing campaign, democratic protests which led to major political changes at the beginning of a 21st century, Prime Minister Djindjic’s assassination, and privatization, with all the typical transition issues which led to huge social and economic changes. Serbia today is still under the burden of the Kosovo crisis and trying to balance between East and West on its slow path towards EU integration. 

In The Corner Office we invite Managing Partners at law firms from across the region to share information about their careers, management styles, and strategies. The question this time around: Is your personal practice more or less the one you anticipated when you finished law school, or did it change somehow in the interim?

I keep hearing that local offices of international firms have been dominating the CEE legal market. Journalists covering the market look at the corporate, finance, and litigation league tables for the region, notice that international firms occupy more places than would be typical in Western Europe, and report a story of global brand domination. I am almost certainly biased, but I see things differently.

Special warning: This is a personal editorial, and not particularly related to lawyering in CEE. I hope our readers will indulge this unusual exception to our normal practice.

A significant anniversary inevitably causes us to reflect upon the period gone by. The sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US started in 2007 and, after spreading to other countries, became the global financial crisis that caused the longest-lasting recession of the post-war era. This recession, in conjunction with other factors, triggered sweeping changes in the Hungarian legal market. In retrospect, clear, recognizable patterns have emerged in the ten years since then. 

As summarized in CMS’s recently-released Emerging Europe M&A Report 2016/2017, the year just concluded, 2016, was an eventful one in Europe, as it included weak global growth and overall investor cautiousness, an attempted military coup in Turkey, a vote for the UK to leave the European Union, continued unrest in the east of Ukraine, continued application of sanctions in Russia, and the first full year of a new populist right-wing Government in Poland. There was plenty therefore to be concerned about, and we all feared what impact this might have on M&A deal activity in the region as a whole. 

Before any of our readers ask: indeed, Moore’s Law is not really a law. Rather, it reflects the prediction by Intel Co-Founder Gordon Moore in 1965 that, based on his observation at the time that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented, that trend would continue into the future. Many since have described his prediction as the rhythm of the beating heart of technological developments. 

Despite a still-shaky business environment in the Adriatic region we have again experienced another very exciting year, which once made our transaction teams busier than they were the year before.

2016 has been a rather challenging year when it comes to financial openness and economic growth, as many countries across the globe have seen their economies running out of steam and their national businesses feeling the squeeze, while the investor fear gauge is still rearing high.

The year of 2016 was marked by relatively low M&A activity in Ukraine. Although transactions were carried out in almost every industry, their total number turned out to be quite moderate.

Looking at it honestly, 2016 has been another year of recession for Russia, with a GDP expected at negative 0.6%. That’s not a surprise, of course. The oil crisis, currency crisis, and a hostile international context materialized by EU and US sanctions have severely impacted the economy.

Few would contest that 2016 was, on balance, a disappointing year. Indeed, by now descriptions of the year just concluded as unfortunate, or terrible, or an annus horribilis are so common as to approach cliché. Still, the year is unlikely to be remembered fondly, in CEE or anywhere else.

As I write this editorial, we are celebrating three years since the CEE Legal Matters website (now already on its third version) first went online. To say that trying to think back and identify one major theme that shaped our last few years is difficult would be a real understatement, but because David has written up one too many of our recent editorials, that challenge falls on me.

After 27 years of a free market economy and parliamentary democracy, 17 years inside the NATO structure, and 12 years of membership in the European Union, it is easy to forget how much has changed in Poland since the fall of communism. Looking back (and having the perspective of over two decades of professional experience), it is safe to say that nothing would ever be the same after Poland’s transformation.

Page 1 of 5

Our Latest Issue