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The landlocked former Soviet republic struggles to move beyond political division and geopolitical pressures to find a steady and reliable path to prosperity.

The Republic of Moldova has three and a half million people – two and a half million fewer than when it was part of the Soviet Union. The Soviet bar was strictly a criminal/civil/family bar, with lawyers doing international legal work concentrated mainly in Moscow. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, local bars (such as Moldova’s) were forced to develop legal capabilities from scratch to serve the needs of local businesses and foreign investors.

Simona Marin is an English- and New York-qualified partner in CMS’s International Finance team in Bucharest, where she focuses on project finance, real estate finance and other financing structures, both syndicated and bilateral, secured and unsecured. Simona has over ten years’ experience advising on a broad range of high-profile financings and projects throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

The Deal: In April 2019 CEE Legal Matters reported that Clifford Chance Badea had advised Alpha Bank Romania on its EUR 1 billion direct issuance global covered bond programme – the first-ever in Romania. RTPR Allen & Overy advised Barclays Bank PLC as arranger on the programme, which came three years after the country’s covered bond law entered into force.

On April 1, 2019, a team led by Francisc and Carmen Peli left Romania’s highly-ranked and widely-respected PeliFilip, which the Pelis had co-founded in 2008, to start PeliPartners.  We reached out to Francisc Peli to learn more about the reasons for the big change and his plans for the new firm.

As one of the few “foreign” lawyers who has been continuously active on the Romanian market for the last 20 years, it is interesting to note the evolution of this market over that period.

Giedre Dailidenaite, Partner at Primus Derling in Vilnius, says the recent news in the Lithuanian legal community involves FinTech regulations, “in particular involving the difficulties FinTech businesses are facing with anti-money laundering and data protection issues.”

Coming less than a week before the country’s general elections, the Greek Parliament’s July 1, 2019 adoption of a new Penal Code and new Code of Criminal Procedure were quite controversial, says Ilias Anagnostopoulos, Managing Partner at the Anagnostopoulos law firm. 

There are a number of significant legislative changes in Russia, says Alrud Senior Partner Vassily Rudomino, citing the strengthening of competition regulations in digital markets and new data protection laws as among the major ones. 

“The political situation in Albania is currently overcharged,” says Wolf Theiss Partner Sokol Nako, commenting on the opposition’s decision to leave the parliament earlier this year, which led to widespread protests.

According to Alterna Partner Annika Vait, on July 1, 2019, Estonia enacted more than 25 legal acts, “changing the current legislation.”

“The biggest problem now in Turkey is the ongoing elections,” says Sezer & Utkaner Executive Partner Nazli Sezer, who points out that the country has been in election mode for three years now.

Simona Marin is an English- and New York-qualified partner in CMS’s International Finance team in Bucharest, where she focuses on project finance, real estate finance and other financing structures, both syndicated and bilateral, secured and unsecured. Simona has over ten years’ experience advising on a broad range of high-profile financings and projects throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

The Deal: In April 2019 CEE Legal Matters reported that Clifford Chance Badea had advised Alpha Bank Romania on its EUR 1 billion direct issuance global covered bond programme – the first-ever in Romania. RTPR Allen & Overy advised Barclays Bank PLC as arranger on the programme, which came three years after the country’s covered bond law entered into force.

On April 1, 2019, a team led by Francisc and Carmen Peli left Romania’s highly-ranked and widely-respected PeliFilip, which the Pelis had co-founded in 2008, to start PeliPartners.  We reached out to Francisc Peli to learn more about the reasons for the big change and his plans for the new firm.

Pavel Hristov opened the doors of Bulgaria’s Hristov & Partners law firm in 2013. Since then, his firm has grown steadily, and today competes on even terms with the long-established powers on the Bulgarian law firm market. We sat down with Hristov, himself a highly-regarded commercial lawyer, to learn about his firm’s history, strategy, and success.

Competition/Antitrust expert Sam Baldwin is a British national in Budapest’s Szecskay Attorneys at Law. Before joining Szecskay he spent eight years as an attorney in Copenhagen with the Gorrissen Federspiel law firm. He has significant experience advocating before national competition authorities and the European Commission and is successful at fending off accusations of wrong-doing on behalf of clients. He has represented companies in national court proceedings as well as at the General Court and European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

In January 2019 CEE Legal Matters reported that Deloitte Legal had advised K&H Bank on long-term non-recourse project financing provided to Photon Energy Group for Photon Energy’s 11.5 MWp proprietary PV power plant portfolio in Hungary. Pontes Budapest advised Photon Energy on the deal. We reached out to both firms for more information.

If one is an example, two is a coincidence, and three is a trend, the three major law firm mergers in Ukraine this past summer demand closer scrutiny.

On July 9, 2018, the CEE Legal Matters website reported the merger of the Avellum and A.G.A. Partners law firms in Ukraine. A month later, the website reported on a second merger, this time between Asters and EPAP, the Ukrainian office of Russia’s Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners. And in September the website reported on yet another merger, between Integrites and Pravochyn. To explore these significant changes in the market, on October 26, 2018, CEE Legal Matters sat down with a collection of prominent Ukrainian lawyers — including several from firms directly involved in the summer’s mergers — at the Kyiv office of DLA Piper.

Chinese investors and developers are expanding their footprints in Europe, focusing often on green technology and opportunities in the solar, hi-tech, and automation industries, as well as highly-publicized infrastructure development tenders. Over the years, the amount of Chinese investment has increased, as has the number of Chinese professionals settling in CEE to facilitate Europe-China relations and bridge differences in culture, expectations, and styles. In September, 2018, CEE Legal Matters sat down at the Dentons office in Budapest with three Chinese lawyers to learn about their experiences working on the ground in CEE.

Start-Ups represent a unique subset of clients for major law firms, as they are often unable to pay the fees those firms generally require, but – particularly in the tech sector – hold out the potential of significant profitability down the road. Intrigued by the unique challenges and opportunities for law firms offering their services to these cash-poor but potential-high clients, we invited partners from four prominent law firms in the Czech Republic and Slovakia to share their strategies and experiences with Start-ups with us in the offices of Kocian Solc Balastik in Prague. KSB Partner Christian Blatchford moderated the conversation. 

The Hungarian real estate and housing market is experiencing golden days. Although the market took a serious hit during the financial crisis in 2008, today enormous sums are again being invested in office buildings, shopping malls, hotels, residential areas, and retail. In order to map the underlying reasons behind the market’s boom, and to better understand how the country is dealing with the high demand for development lands and properties, CEE Legal Matters sat down with six Hungarian lawyers specialized in Real Estate & Construction and a Legal Counsel from Prologis, a Real Estate & Supply Chain Logistics company. 

On January 30, 2018, a select group of prominent Serbian lawyers gathered at the Prica & Partners law firm in Belgrade for a CEE Legal Matters Round Table to discuss the current economic conditions in Serbia and the country’s legal services sector.

On Thursday, April 19, 2018, CEE Legal Matters hosted a round table discussion at the Dentons office in Budapest with leading real estate experts in the market.

From GC Nightmares to Partner Nightmares

In our previous article, we addressed the frustration of general counsel regarding external lawyers pushing against their caps, and we provided some tips for how to defuse this tension. (See Evelaw. GC Nightmares: Assaults on the Cap).

Every year legal marketing professionals try to define the key trends and predictions for the upcoming year – so do we. Most tools and solutions have been around for some time, we just have to adjust them according to our experience and global trends. 

Why can’t you sleep?

When we ask general counsel the question “What keeps you up at night about law firms”, many gnash their teeth about a problem with fee caps. In particular, they express their frustration with law firms requesting cap waivers based on the belief that the matter’s scope has been exceeded.

Until 2009 legal marketing was overregulated in Hungary. Since then lawyer ads are basically allowed, but they have to comply with the Hungarian Bar Association’s guidelines. 

For the last couple of years the issue of attracting foreign investments into Ukraine has loomed large. However, attracting such investment is hardly possible without creating the proper investment climate and implementing necessary reforms. One necessary step is transforming Ukrainian corporate law.