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In The Corner Office, we invite Managing Partners at law firms from across the region to share information about the strategies they employ to keep their teams motivated, effective, and focused. For this issue, we asked them to reveal what sorts of firm retreats and activities they host and/or organize for their lawyers.

Over the last two decades the London-based legal press has grown into a sector which must have the combined revenue of a top 20 UK firm. It is a success that has proven difficult to replicate in continental Europe, particularly on a regional basis. 

Whereas the leading commercial law firms in Serbia report growth and opportunity, their counterparts in Croatia demonstrate an acceptance of the stop-and-start nature of that market. In an extended lunchtime conversation about with CEE Legal Matters, Divjak, Topic & Bahtijarevic Partner Damir Topic and Wolf Theiss Managing Partner Luka Tadic-Colic displayed a resigned sense of humor about the challenges they face in Croatia and a willingness to take things as they come.

Comprehensive Review in Bulgaria

Hristo Nihrizov, Partner at Dimitrov, Petrov & Co., reported that the Bulgarian TV and radio markets are dominated by three big, established operators in the country. There are some new international players (e.g., Bloomberg recently launched a new business-oriented channel with a local partner), but Nihrizov noted that these new channels usually face an uphill battle in carving out market share and generally focus instead on niche markets. Overall, though, he pointed to a growing number of channels in the country, “which is good for the consumers.”

"We simply don’t want to see a Bar that is owned by a handful of firms," was the explanation offered by Aleksandar Cvejic, Board Member and Secretary of the Board of the Belgrade Bar Association in support of the controversial draft bylaws submitted for a vote at the upcoming assembly of the Belgrade Bar on September 24, 2016.

Bit by bit the first wave of expatriate lawyers that helped CEE and CIS legal markets transition from the chaotic end of communism to the (more or less) functioning capitalist present subsides, as one by one those lawyers retire and withdraw. Now comes the announcement that Baker & McKenzie Partner Dan Matthews, who played a formative role in the firm’s Moscow, Baku, and Istanbul offices, will be retiring and returning to the United States on July 1, 2016.

We take the opportunity to review the career and contributions of Matthews, one of CEE’s undisputed Building Blocks

Twenty years ago I graduated from law school in sunny California, passed my bar exam, got on a plane, and came to Eastern Europe as a bright-eyed young lawyer. What I thought would be a six-month sojourn turned into over a decade of living in the region and considerably more time working throughout it.

Three new codes of procedures will become effective in Slovakia on July 1, 2016, all of them having been passed by Parliament as early as May 21, 2015. In terms of importance and scope, the adoption of these new codes represents the largest law reform since Slovak independence.

This past year has exposed our practice to a number of new challenges. To some extent, this somehow mirrored the relatively more pronounced dynamics of the Slovak economy. Ours is a law office that, owing to its size and experience, has the ability to specialize in individual areas of law, and the preceding year was characterized by a higher number of industry-specific cases compared to the past. In particular, this involved attractive project applications, restructuring and financing cases, and corporate transactions, as well as immovable property and dispute cases.

“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.”

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