On April 28, 2023, CEE Legal Matters reported that Tarja Krehic had left the Deloitte Legal network to set up a new law firm in Zagreb. We spoke with Krehic shortly afterward to learn more about the concluded cooperation, the intricacies of her new agenda, and the plans for her firm going forward.
CEELM: To start, please tell us a bit about what exactly brought this move on.
Krehic: After almost four years of successfully leading and managing the Krehic & Partners law firm in cooperation with Deloitte Legal, I have effectively achieved our joint goal of positioning the Deloitte Legal brand on the Croatian legal market as a valuable, reliable, and trustworthy partner, recognized and appreciated by the clients. We have done a great job considering the maturity and condensed nature of the local professional legal market.
After this truly inspiring journey, I decided to move forward, to further grow my boutique legal practice, and to continue focusing on local and regional M&A, as well as privacy and overall compliance. These past years of cooperating and working with Deloitte's top-notch strategic and financial advisors have prepared us to tailor-make teams to seamlessly fit clients’ business and industry needs, and to provide holistic advice, especially geared towards businesses looking for strategic investors, expanding internationally, and undergoing restructuring.
Besides focusing on M&A, I plan to concentrate more on supporting businesses looking for financing in the ICT and energy sector, on keeping a strong focus on the multi-disciplinary areas of privacy, AI, and overall compliance, as well as on introducing some new topics such as the immense effects of the Foreign Subsidies Regulation. Essentially, continuing the legal practice with an agile focus on local and regional clients, with project-based work and a multi-disciplinary approach through cooperation with other international law firms, consultants, and M&A advisors active in the region. Being recognized as the top-tier M&A lawyer for the last couple of years in a row, and with a track record of leading the most prominent M&A deals in Croatia and the region, continuing to focus on these areas is a natural direction.
CEELM: You’ve worked with the Deloitte Legal-affiliated team for well over three years before the split. What were your main highlights during this period?
Krehic: The cooperation has been truly amazing and insightful, especially on many multi-disciplinary deals and projects we did with the US and European Deloitte experts. Deloitte’s CE and wider international and legal teams are indeed top-tier, and we have accomplished a great deal of joint successful projects. Working hand-in-hand, as an integral part of a global consultancy, enhances the corporate lawyer’s strategic thinking and hones their truly business-oriented approach, which is highly appreciated by clients.
CEELM: What about your new setup? What does your law firm look like today?
Krehic: As a growing boutique law firm, we are more compact and able to cooperate with other international legal and business advisors, which results in more flexibility when dealing with international clients in this part of the world, but also when assisting Croatian companies that are intensifying and growing their business to the EU, the UK, and the US. We always aim to enable and facilitate clients in a more effective way and respond to any opportunities and challenges that come along. Clients like to have the ability to tailor the teams for different types of projects, sometimes using Big 4 consultants but other times choosing boutique, niche business experts – which is actually the flexibility I am very much looking forward to.
Being able to cooperate with different M&A advisors warrants a more observant approach and dedication, focused on the specific industry and client needs – especially important in M&A deals – but also in supporting local and regional clients expanding to foreign markets. This is exactly my plan for further growth and focuses on fast-growing industries such as ICT, energy, hospitality, logistics, and the financial sector, while responding to new business model opportunities. Croatia and the region are small markets, so being able to cooperate and build networks with numerous alliances and international law firms in doing local legal work has always been my strength, focus, and an exciting aspect of my career.
CEELM: And what are your short-term plans?
Krehic: I’m currently planning a regional conference on GDPR trends with one of the world’s best privacy platforms – Data Privacy Manager by LegIT – with the aim of discussing popular new EU trends in privacy before a Croatian audience focusing on the financial industry. I’m also planning a conference on the new EU foreign subsidies regulatory framework and how it will affect US and Chinese investors in M&A deals and public tenders in this region: we plan to open up this topic with some of the leading EU and Croatian experts in state-aid and competition.
Other than those, I’m currently working on several intense projects, M&As in both the private and public sectors with strong state-aid and competition aspects, some large restructuring projects for strong European clients diversifying their regional work, and a few really interesting compliance projects focusing on privacy in the financial sector. Also, I was just in Istanbul for the 2022 Deal of the Year Award – as my team from Deloitte Legal had been nominated for last year’s sale of RTL Croatia to Central European Media Enterprises.
CEELM: Do you believe the Croatian market is one to nurture spin-offs in its current state or do you foresee market challenges initially?
Krehic: After almost 20 years of having a condensed, structured legal market, I believe spin-offs are still to be expected. We have also noticed a strong trend of having a variety of independent lawyers nurturing strong niche expertise, such as AI, compliance, finance and alternative financial products, employment, and family-related matters, without the necessity to further grow other expert areas like the law firms tended to before. I personally strongly support this trend and find it desirable, as large law firms’ strong specialties for niche products can be challenging due to an overload with more traditional legal work regularly flowing in.
CEELM: What is your ultimate goal? Where do you see your firm in ten years?
Krehic: The ultimate goal is to continue to assist truly amazing local and global clients with a focus on their expansions outside Croatia and the CE region, but also to further build up and grow in certain niche areas such as privacy, AI, and ESG. I also plan to focus back on leading the Croatian Association of Women in the Legal Profession (HUZUPP), where I have been a president since its incorporation back in 2017, as there are intensifying legal and business topics waiting for our strong and attentive involvement.