In the 36 years since its launch in 1993 by Marek Prochazka as a Prague banking and finance boutique, PRK Partners has added offices in Bratislava and Ostrava and grown into one of the largest and most successful law firms in the Czech and Slovak Republics. That growth, the firm’s partners maintain, is a by-product of the firm’s traditions of flexibility, professionalism, and innovation, rather than the result of a predetermined plan.
“We are not a firm that puts together a strategic plan and then works under it for ten years,” says Partner Robert Nemec. “We like to look to the future, of course, but at the same time we are more or less flexible, and we pursue various ways and try various methods as to how to remain up to date. I think it speaks for itself that today we have 14 partners and we have this kind of democracy in the firm. We don’t have one strong leader who would set up one big plan and then pursue it.” He smiles. “It might be a bit different from other firms, but we are what we are.”
That relaxed business ethic has put the firm on the map, and kept it there. PRK Partners has worked on a number of extremely high-profile deals in recent years, it is consistently listed at the top of the market in international rankings, and it has won multiple local and international industry awards.
Part of the firm’s success is tied to its flexibility and innovation. Nemec and fellow Partner Roman Pecenka point proudly to new software the firm has created and is promoting with legal publisher Wolters Kluwers. Nemec describes the software, known as Vzorne Pravo, as “a kind of automated document creator, which allows medium to small entrepreneurs – even in-house lawyers – to create their legal documents online with an interactive system.”
According to Pecenka, the PRK Partners team is “providing the legal know-how as to the form and content of the documents,” and “the idea, at the end of the day, is that rather than taking documents from the Internet, users can create them interactively. Of course, they can also communicate with real lawyers if their needs are more complicated.”
Pecenka’s enthusiasm for the new software is infectious, and he believes its simplicity and ease-of-use – “the instructions to the people working on the documents were to keep things as simple as possible,” he says, “and that’s a prevailing demand from our clients as well: to keep things user-friendly, with no 200-page documents” – will make it extremely valuable for users.
He reports that the process of creating and overseeing the software has proven useful internally as well. “It’s allowed us to see how simple some contracts can be, and we focus on keeping the Czech as simple as possible,” he says. “So we’re learning from it as well.” In addition, he says, “the second benefit for the firm is that we were forced to organize our internal know-how, so we can offer some of our clients services based on this kind of effective drafting of contracts. For example, in the Real Estate market, we are able to draft lease agreements based on a term sheet in a standard form. So it makes our work for our clients very effective.”
Ultimately, Pecenka says, “it helps us a lot to start thinking about how we believe legal services will be used in the future. This is a new experience for the lawyers drafting the legal documents. We are trying to keep up-to-date.”
This reflects an impressive flexibility and awareness of the way client demands and expectations change. Thus, in 2018, the partnership expanded via the promotion of Pharma/Life Science expert Monika Moshkova and the addition of former Baker/McKenzie IP/IT Partner Michal Matejka. Nemec reports that the firm has recently strengthened its Compliance department as well.
Still, now at over 100 lawyers, Nemec reports that PRK Partners is likely to stay more or less at its current size. “The limit on growth is the potential conflicts of interest that start arising,” he explains, “so we’re staying in this range.”
In addition to concern about conflicts, the number of lawyers is affected by economic realities, and the partners at PRK Partners are aware that the recent boom in the Czech Republic may be slowing. “Generally things are going pretty well, I would say,” Nemec reports, “but we are obviously conscious of the fact that some economists are talking about potential financial slowdowns.” As a result, he says, “we are rather careful, and we are trying to keep our costs under control, to stay prepared.” All things considered, he says, “we are quite prepared for a slow-down in any area of business.”
In the meantime, the firm’s partners exude a relaxed confidence and camaraderie. Matejka reports being pleased at the positivity he found among his new colleagues. “Baker McKenzie in Prague has a reputation for being a very friendly environment, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see that PRK Partners is as well.” But, he says, commenting on the significant role he is playing in the development of the Vzorne Pravo software, the firm is hardly resting on its laurels. “We always try to be ahead of the market, especially in terms of using AI in our work.”
With attention to detail, a commitment to innovation and technology, and a flexibility that allows the firm to respond to a dynamic market, PRK Partners is moving forward in style.