Earlier this year, the start-up scene in Croatia picked up speed with the Rimac Automobili – Bugatti deal. The burgeoning Croatian manufacturer, which focuses on constructing electric hypercars, struck a deal with global automotive giant Bugatti, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, to form a joint venture for the production of next-generation supercars.
This year marks Schoenherr Romania’s 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, CEE Legal Matters spoke with Schoenherr’s Romanian office Managing Partner Sebastian Gutiu as well as with Michael Lagler, the firm’s Managing Partner, and Partner Christoph Lindinger, who established the Romanian office and was the main driver behind Schoenherr’s expansion into Central and Eastern Europe.
“The pandemic has made everyone aware of the critical need to digitalize their business – irrespective of their industry,” explains CMS CEE Managing Director Dora Petranyi. “With the rise in digitalization, not just in business, but even in our daily lives, we also see an increased awareness of the importance, and impact, of the infrastructure that supports these digital trends.” And this increased awareness of the importance of the infrastructure being used is complemented by the pandemic drawing people’s attention to climate change as well, with Petranyi noting: “We all saw many maps of various regions of the world suddenly becoming cleaner and cleaner as the lockdowns were being implemented – it was only natural for it to emphasize the link between human activity and its impact on the environment.”
Georgetown University Law Center’s 2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market concluded that “2020 may in retrospect be seen as an important inflection point for the redesign of the delivery of legal services on a broader scale” and, despite the unprecedented disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, most firms were able to adjust and adapt to the challenges with notable success, which “is a tribute to the innovation and resiliency of law firms.”
Thinking about my journey and experiences as an expat lawyer in the Czech Republic, I vividly recall one of the early client meetings I had fresh off the boat in the mid-1990s. A CEE client came to the office with a “suitcase” telephone … an old school plastic telephone with a rotary dial and a long antenna, encased in an MDF “custom telecommunications suitcase” which he proudly lugged onto the desk … (He was also wearing one of those plum-colored shiny polyester suits so beloved by New Europe Entrepreneurs in the 90s). Note to incredulous young lawyers reading this: in those days there were no mobile phones (The horror!).
On February 24, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that Russia’s Intellectual Capital law firm had persuaded the Moscow Arbitrazh Court that a requirement that participants in a Rosatom tender for legal counsel be ranked in Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners was illegal and violated Russian competition law. CEELM spoke with several lawyers in the market to learn more about the matter.
In his recent Guest Editorial EY’s Georgy Kovalenko spoke of a rising trend of large companies building up their in-house legal functions to the point where they will not only compete with law firms in terms of catering to their internal clients but will also slowly branch out into offering their services to other companies. CEE Legal Matters spoke with Eugenia Volkoskaya, General Manager of Gazpromneft Expert Solutions – an enterprise that, while not there just yet, seems poised to do exactly what Kovalenko was foreseeing.
Halfway through the third quarter, 2021 is proving to be a good year for the Russian market, both in terms of M&A activity and a frothy IPO market. This uptick in part reflects unleashing the demand pent up over the COVID-19 recession (although Russia continues to struggle with the pandemic), as well as the upturn in global energy prices (given the oil & gas sector continues to lubricate the Russian economy).
On June 15, 2021, Hungary passed legislation that bans the dissemination of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change. Dubbed by many as simply the “Anti-LGBTQ+ Law,” it has wide-ranging implications – even leaving social issues / social impact aside. CEE Legal Matters spoke with several Hungarian lawyers to discuss the law’s business implications and the impact it had on law firms’ work.
In the late Summer of 1984, while hanging out in Bucharest one evening, a university friend and I decided (with the help of some local red wine) to go “look for Dracula.” Full of adventure and certainly educational, the experience was not a positive one. Due to the harsh policies of the Ceausescu regime at the time, Romania was a dark place (there were literally few if any lights during the evenings), with little food to eat (even for foreigners like us), and a local population who would rarely, if ever, talk to us (unbeknownst to us at the time, the Romanian secret police, the Securitate, required anyone who had contact with a foreigner to report the interaction – needless to say, this was not conducive to long and meaningful conversations).
Looking at the past 18 months, as economies across CEE contracted, the technology, media, and telecom sector has been surging. A balancing factor for economies, it helped avoid a deeper recession. For CEE law firms, TMT’s solid performance brought in a steady amount of work, helping polish what might otherwise have been a lackluster year.
Before the democratic changes of 1990 lawyers worked independently but under the supervision of the Minister of Justice. Remunerations were limited, leading to an administrative distribution of work. Lawyers were mainly involved in family and inheritance law, sale-purchase of housing, and cooperative relations.
The Ukrainian legal services market has been buzzing with work in the first half of 2021. CEE Legal Matters hosted a round table conversation in which Partners at Asters, Avellum, Integrites, Kinstellar, and Sayenko Kharenko discussed the driving forces behind the workload and their outlook for the months to come.
The pandemic has been devastating for Ukraine, with underfunded health services struggling to contain COVID-19 contagion. Scenes of hospitals overwhelmed with patients and lacking staff, equipment, and medication will haunt us even as cases drop and vaccinations rise. It has been a traumatic time for our team at the Kyiv Dentons office. We have been working hard to support and guide each other towards the glimmer of light at the end of this long and, at times scary, tunnel.