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The Buzz in Poland: Interview with Jaroslaw Iwanicki of Allen & Overy

The Buzz in Poland: Interview with Jaroslaw Iwanicki of Allen & Overy

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“It has been a good economic year,” says Jaroslaw Iwanicki, Partner at Allen & Overy in Warsaw, referring to 2018 and the beginning of 2019. “The market has been surprisingly good both for business professionals and lawyers.”

According to Iwanicki, the private sector is “particularly robust,” keeping the legal market active. At the same time the Polish legal market is “highly competitive," especially on price, which he describes as particularly challenging for international law firms. The situation is worsened, he says, by state-controlled companies requiring their legal advisers to accept government-imposed caps and mandatory limits on fees, which, he says, “eliminates a large number of bigger firms from being able to work for them.”

Furthermore, Iwanicki says that many lawyers in the country “have spoiled the market by quoting very low,” which leads to problems for many law firms. “Profits are growing in other places, while in Poland it is pretty difficult to keep up the fee levels.” 

Going forward, Iwanicki says that despite the stable economy Poland still may be affected by two challenges: “the looming global crisis” and the slowdown of the German economy. On the latter subject, he explains that, “Poland is very much dependent on the German economy. We have 30% percent of our export going to Germany. Hence, any German slowdown will cause a slowdown in Poland as well.” 

In a classic back-handed compliment, Iwanicki says that “politically, the positive development is that the government did not screw up as much as they could have.” He explains that the current government is walking on a tightrope, jeopardizing the country’s aspirations and achievements in relation to the EU. “So far, it has not had any negative impact on business, but it can get worse,” he says, adding, “it is hard to predict what awaits the legal profession and business in the near future.” 

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