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“The guys in the Central European group were a really collegial group and we really enjoyed what we did and truly felt we were making a difference, and we had good clients, and the results were really gratifying. So it was a very good, unique core group of people who were fully committed to Central and Eastern Europe at a historic time.” – Obie Moore

This March marks the 70th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous speech at a college in Fulton, Missouri, USA, when he uttered the memorable phrase: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Tark Grunte Sutkiene and Varul's Estonia office have signed a memorandum of understanding to tie up and, in their words, "form a stronger Baltic partnership.” Going forward, Tark Grunte Sutkiene — which will continue to operate under that name — will employ over 140 lawyers across the Baltics.

Women’s Day is behind us, but the subjects of gender equality and equal opportunity are of year-round concern. This, the first part of a special two-part CEE Legal Matters article on women in private practice in CEE, provides the numbers and percentages from leading law firms across CEE, as well as a more thorough snapshot of one representative market. Part II of the report, in the June issue, will pull back the curtain even more, providing feedback and perspectives from lawyers across the region.

In May, 2015, Vasil Kisil & Partners announced that disputes specialist Andriy Stelmashchuk had been elected the firm’s new Managing Partner – becoming the first Managing Partner who was not among the venerable firm’s founders. The change coincided with the introduction of what the firm described as “a new corporate identity,” which the firm claimed reflects “the firm’s development strategy and key values of the brand: a national law firm operating to Western standards and leading the changes and innovative solutions.”

When I reached the age of four, I remember my father making a selfless but nevertheless hard decision to stop his PhD studies in nuclear physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA in order for our family to be reunited and live under one roof in Slovenia, which, at the time, still formed a part of the former Yugoslavia.

When preparing for my welcome speech the night before our annual client party at the end of September, I was reflecting on the current market climate and the past year. Our Prague office has had an excellent year both in terms of financial results and growth of the team. Just before summer we made up two new partners and we have recently added five new advocates to our team.

It would be almost impossible to write this editorial without mentioning the hottest economic topic in Slovakia at the moment: Land Rover’s intention to open a production plant in Slovakia, which some are calling the investment of the decade in the country.

On May 18 and 19, 2015, separate press releases came across the wire, announcing that the Lithuanian and Latvian offices of two of the top pan-Baltic alliances – Raidla, Lejins & Norcous (RLN) and Lawin – had, in essence, dissolved, traded Estonian offices, and reorganized. The former Lithuanian and Latvian members of RLN and the former Estonian member of Lawin re-formed as Cobalt, while the former Lithuanian and Latvian offices of Lawin and the former Estonian office of RLN re-formed as Ellex.

At the close of the 19th century, American newspaper editor Horace Greeley exhorted his readership to abandon the teeming cities of America’s North East and to “Go West, young man and grow up with the country.” This exhortation was on my mind a hundred years later, when in 1995 three large suitcases and I left Manhattan for Tashkent. The Berlin Wall had fallen and as a 20th century American pioneer, I was going East to grow up with a lot of countries. To start, I was opening the Uzbek office of a global law firm.  

The Latvian and Lithuanian offices of Raidla Lejins & Norcous (RLN) and the Estonian office of Lawin have left their firms to join forces in what they describe as "a vibrant new pan-Baltic alliance.” The result — “Cobalt” — also includes an office in Belarus. As a result, Irmantas Norkus, the Managing Partner of Cobalt’s Lithuanian office said yesterday, “RLN is dissolved as of today.”

The China Central and Eastern Europe Investment Co-Operation Fund, established by the China Export Import Bank in partnership with the Hungarian Export Import Bank and other institutional advisors from CEE, is off and running. And Judith Gliniecki, General Counsel at CEE Equity Partners Ltd., investment advisor for the Fund, is getting rave reviews for her work on its behalf. With Gliniecki’s help, the most significant source of Chinese investment in CEE is finding smooth sailing.

We took the opportunity of the presence in Prague this month of Eduardo Leite, Chairman of Baker & McKenzie's Executive Committee, and Gary Senior, the firm's Chair for EMEA, for Baker & McKenzie's EMEA Partners' Conference, to sit down with both of them. These conversations provided a rare opportunity to explore Baker & McKenzie's expectations and plans for CEE, the ways the firm handles the political and financial crises in the region, and the possibility of expansion into new CEE markets.