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Guest Editorial: Advantages of a Regional Experience

Guest Editorial: Advantages of a Regional Experience

Issue 10.9
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For the followers of the CEE Legal Matters, the question of cooperation among local firms in deals that often have a regional nature is central. Such cooperation involves, first and foremost, the acquaintance between the law firms involved in the deal and their members.

As a witness to the birth and growth of CEE Legal Matters in the last 10 years, I can appreciate such a platform that keeps the legal profession updated with developments in the legal industry within CEE. I am also equipped with the experience that South-East Europe Legal Group (SEE Legal) has demonstrated in the last 20 years by bringing together 12 of the most prominent firms and lawyers practicing from each jurisdiction within South-East Europe.

Nowadays, EU institutions are talking frequently about the Berlin Process as a platform that aims at the approximation and integration of six countries of the Western Balkans into the EU, but SEE and CEE have not lost their importance, given the geography and history. They are regions where Western Balkan firms have been working and are working in cooperation with other firms following the clients’ interests, often knowing no borders. Naturally, CEE offers more opportunities than SEE, as it consists of a large space and of developed economies, thus attracting the interests of big players in various industries. This is associated with a larger presence of international firms, and a strengthening of local firms as the only way to remain competitive. Our relations with international law firms and other firms from across CEE have proven to be beneficial for both sides and, certainly, for our clients. The participation of Kalo & Associates in several CEELM events where we also got trophies for being engaged in major transactions and deals speaks to the paramount importance of communication beyond individual borders.

The experience within SEE Legal is a good asset we can use in any other regional professional structures, as through communication and exchange of views among an army of hundreds of lawyers, whether partners or associates, clients find solutions and more importantly, create a good feeling and confidence that their cases are being handled with similar standards, irrespective of locations. For those who do not know about it, SEE Legal was incepted in 2003, as an agreement of leading law firms practicing in 12 jurisdictions in Southeast Europe and, thanks to the commitment of the Managing Partners of each individual firm and the coordinator and by-rotation-elected Chairpersons, it earned a considerable reputation as an organization, from both institutional and viewpoints, acting as “one region, one firm.” As a matter of fact, SEE Legal, through its members, has acted successfully on many business cases in a wider context and jurisdiction – that of CEE.

This was simply possible as each member firm has been able to forge and maintain business relationships with Magic Circle firms and other international firms having a presence in CEE, or even operating from other locations for clients that might have a deal within CEE. I have also increasingly noticed strong domestic or regional firms within CEE contacting our firms on behalf of their clients, which I believe contributes to the continuous development and improvement of the legal market in the CEE region.

One may ask: How can you keep such a long-lasting relationship with large firms? The answer is simple – by showing them you progress as they do (of course taking into consideration differences in market circumstances and factors) and that you keep the same rhythm and spirit, when handling the clients’ matters they refer, as if they were originated by yourself. Meeting them in their offices, meeting them at the IBA and other important legal conferences and forums has also proven beneficial. Certainly, such progress is going hand in hand with new developments in the legal industry, such as working remotely, improving the efficiency of people and systems within the firm, dealing with AI and necessary measures to mitigate the risk of being invaded by technology, as well as regulatory landscape developments such as heightening standards in the fight against corruption, money laundering, and bribery, etc.

The challenge ahead of the firms in SEE (as well as in the wider CEE) is to create the conditions to prepare the future generation of partners so that they continue what the founders did during the last three decades (if not more). And, indeed, we are happy to see that most of our lawyers know now many peers in CEE and are in contact for both business-focused and social events.

Other challenges are introducing clear policies on inclusiveness, increasing corporate social responsibility, engaging in initiatives related to environmental protection, and taking necessary actions toward compliance regarding Sustainable Development Goals.

By Perparim Kalo, Founding Partner, Kalo & Associates

This article was originally published in Issue 10.9 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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