The Belarus office of Vilgerts Legal & Tax in Belarus has announced that, as of January 1, 2019, it will leave the Riga-based firm and begin operating independently as Legaltax. Roman Shpakovsky remains Managing Partner of the firm.
According to a press release disseminated by the new firm, "We still believe that you deserve Porsche-type law firm: fast, reliable and fun to use."
When contacted by CEE Legal Matters, Shpakovsky reported that the only change was the firm's brand and disconnection from Vilgerts. "The only change is the name," he said. "All the team remains and we continue to focus on Tax, Energy, Investments and Asset Recovery." He also insisted that "we are parting ways with other offices on good terms, focusing on our respective markets."
"The decision was made following friendly discussions between offices regarding the future development of the firm," Shpakovsky explained. "Although we have the same values and goals, we had different ideas how to reach them, in particular about level of centralization and relationships between offices. We have strong personal connections, but business-wise connections between Latvia and Belarus are not that strong yet to provide a solid stream of cross-border cases [sufficient] to justify the existence of a Belarus-Latvia alliance without a strong office in Lithuania."
"On a positive note," Shpakovsky continued, "together we built a strong brand after our departure from Magnusson few years ago [as reported by CEE Legal Matters on November 6, 2014 and we are happy that our Latvian colleagues will continue upholding it. The Latvian team is the creme de la creme among business lawyers and leadership is charged to win. In Belarus we learned a lot during our seven years together, and the office was highly ranked .... Our promise is to keep the 5-star quality standards that were set."
It appears the change comes as part of a major structural change at erstwhile pan-Baltic Vilgerts. Gints Vilgerts, the patriarch of the firm, informed CEE Legal Matters that "the Vilgerts stronghold always has been Riga, Latvia where [we] have a well established market presence. The management of Vilgerts decided to focus on the Latvian market, [and] as of January 1, 2019 its operations will be exclusively in Latvia without affiliated or best-friends offices in Estonia, Lithuania, and Belarus."
Editor's Note: After this article was published Kaido Loor, the former Managing Partner of Vilgerts in Estonia, confirmed that his office was no longer part of the Vilgerts network, and that he and his colleagues in Tallinn would be operating going forward as the independent Loor Law Office.