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The Cathay Associates network of law offices, which was launched by the Chinese boutique Kejie Law Office in September 2015, reports 9 CEE members. The network was initiated to offer global coverage, with a special focus on China and cross-border matters.

On November 2, 2015, Lithuania's SKV Law law firm has become a member of the CEE Attorneys network of law firms already operating in the Czech Republic, Poland, and the Slovak Republic.

In an exclusive conversation with CEE Legal Matters, Meltem Akol — the Executive Partner of the Akol Law Firm, which until very recently was White & Case’s associated firm in Istanbul — has explained her reasons for leaving W&C and her excitement at her plans going forward.

Cobalt has announced that lawyers from the Borenius team in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus will join it from January 1, 2016, turning Cobalt into “the largest full-service business law firm operation in the region.” This follows Borenius’ announcement earlier this week that it is withdrawing from the Baltics, and Sorainen’s announcement that it had picked up former Borenius Lithuania Partners Daivis Svirinas and Zygimantas Pacevicius, along with another eleven lawyers (as reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 21, 2015).

The Akol Attorney Partnership in Turkey is no more, at least in its relationship with White & Case in Turkey, as Managing Partner Meltem Akol has concluded her relationship with the White Shoe Firm.

Central Asia’s Grata International law firm continues its expansion into CEE with the announcement that Grata Senior Partner Akhmetzhan Abdullayev had signed an August 26, 2015, Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation with Senior Partner Aldis Alliks of the Alliks un Partneri firm in Riga, Latvia.

Belarus’ Stepanovski, Papakul and Partners has announced the expansion of its practice into a new area: "the criminal law protection of business.” According to SPP it is “following the market demand and needs of our clients” in linking "our understanding of business specifics and potential risks faced by owners and managers with our experience in criminal case management.” To facilitate the expansion, the firm has brought criminal attorney Natalia Shekina on board.

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.

The SPP Legal Szmigiel & Papros law firm in Warsaw has become a member of CEE Attorneys, the network of law firms begun in March of last year. With the addition of SPP Legal the network, which already counted Tomicek Legal in the Czech Republic and Fox Martens in Slovakia as members, adds a Polish arm.

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.

White & Case and Dentons have confirmed to CEE Legal Matters that the Reczicza White & Case office in Budapest has agreed to join Dentons, and that after the May 3, 2015 move, White & Case itself will no longer have an office in the Hungarian capital.

Prague-based Tomicek Legal has announced that it and Bratislava-based Fox Martens have founded the CEE Attorneys network, which aims to "provide superior legal services to its clients in the whole Central European region through a group of cooperating law firms.”

Pinar Aksakal Aydin is Legal Counsel at Zorlu Holding, one of the largest corporate groups in Turkey, where she leads Zorlu Energy, managing a team of 11 lawyers and reporting directly to the Zorlu Holding Head of Legal. Zorlu Group companies are active principally in the areas of textiles, electronics manufacturing, energy, and financial services. Aydin joined Zorlu Holding in January 2009 and – with the exception of a brief period at Avea Iletisim Hizmetleri in 2012 – and has been there since. Before joining Zorlu Holding she spent a year at the well-known Eryurekli & Fidan law office, and a little over a year at the Salih Zeki Bayten law office.

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