When I first moved to Poland about eight years ago from my native London I encountered a world different from the one where I had spent most of my life.
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?”
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.
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.