“There were no major changes in the structure of the Latvian legal services market in 2019,” says Lauris Liepa, the Managing Partner of Cobalt in Latvia. “As before, three firms – Cobalt, Sorainen, and Ellex – have dominated both the transactions and the corporate advisory market. While some lawyers have changed firms, there have been no major moves regarding teams or senior lawyers. One of the reasons might be a relatively good situation in the legal services market, with growth in all practice areas.”
Liepa says that Latvia’s economy is in good condition, “as it is in all the Baltic countries,” and he notes that “it performed above the average EU level in terms of GDP growth in 2019.” He concedes “certain unpleasant discoveries in the banking/AML segment regarding past practices,” but says that these have caused "no turbulence in the industry.” He says that there has been a noticeable uptake in the financial regulatory/compliance areas. Finally, he says, "we also expect that the necessity for legal assistance in infrastructure projects will grow this year."
Liepa feels that the current political situation in Latvia is “rather stable, after the elections that took place in 2018, with the coalition government attempting to implement coordinated reforms in, among others, the judicial area.” He believes that this has raised business confidence and increased trust in governmental measures. “The regulatory environment in Latvia can be characterized as business-friendly.”
Finally, on the subject of legislation, Liepa reports that the “most important change will be the creation of a new specialized court for Economical Matters,” which he says was proposed by the government coalition and is expected to be implemented in 2020/ 21. The goal for this court, he says, is to facilitate an expedient and specific process for commercial disputes as well as white-collar trials. “This will be a major change,” he says, noting that it is “aimed to improve the efficiency of judicial review of business disputes and will inevitably play a positive role in the development of the Latvian business environment.”