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In the last five years significant changes have occurred in the Serbian business and political environment. This has been a time of dramatic change – with the general goal of transforming the position and the image of Serbia both regionally and globally, strongly affirming a pro-EU stance and making Serbia much more attractive for foreign investment. Obviously, both of these goals are interconnected because improving the image of a country brings more investments, and foreign investors generating profits in Serbia improves Serbia’s global image.

In recent years, a principal aim of Hungary’s energy strategy has been to make the country self-sufficient in electric energy. In figures, this means reducing the import to 0% within ten years – as the country’s current dependency on import of approximately 30% is significantly above the EU average. The increasing price of gas and the decreasing price of electricity led to a decrease in the domestic production of natural gas, so the Hungarian energy policy had to turn to alternatives.

The significance of recent developments in Law Firm Tech in the past five years are widely documented. As the provider of one widely-used and highly-praised transaction tool, we thought we would take the opportunity to share the results of a survey we conducted about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Real Estate transactions. We undertook research with real estate professionals across Europe to find out their views on the current use of AI, their predictions for its use in the future, and what may be preventing its adoption.

The Serbian legal market has changed rapidly over the past five years. After less than 30 years of existence in this form, our legal market is still relatively young and its pioneers emerged in the early 1990s. Nevertheless, it is also a dynamic market and brings change every year, especially due to the European Union accession negotiations and additional harmonization of the country’s legislation with EU legislation. On the other hand, frequent changes in law have become a general rule, providing more work for law firms, but also bringing a high level of uncertainty for their clients.

The brain drain of highly trained and otherwise qualified professionals is increasingly felt in all industry sectors of Romania. We have lost people from all professional backgrounds and levels, low- and high-skilled alike. Statistics are disconcerting: in 2017, nine Romanians left the country every hour and we were second in the world after war-stricken Syria in emigration rankings. In the space of only ten years, about 17% of Romania’s population left the country. How many of them will ever come back? Romania needs a strong country project, sustained, ongoing efforts meant to encourage return migration, and policies to dissuade those who consider leaving the country. In 2018, the centenary year of Romania’s Great Union, I wish for a stronger, more united Romania, looking for ways to entice the next generations away from emigrating and into returning to their home country.

A transformation of the legal profession is happening globally, and its effects are also felt, slowly but surely, in the law firms of Southeast Europe. Due to the changing expectations concerning the quality, speed, and commerciality of services, we are seeing a move towards even more client-oriented solutions. Traditional sectors are being replaced with emerging industries, and where we previously had slow processes, with low profit margins, we see value being generated at lightning speeds. Also, a new generation that entered the workforce recently is slowly imposing their own values and approaches, necessitating changes in structure and the values of traditional legal practices.

The September issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine contained an interview with a Law Firm Marketing expert who was leaving the profession, and who explained that “I became very frustrated. Working with the lawyers was difficult, while trying to maintain my dignity.” She also said that “I’m afraid I discovered that many of them are simply not very nice persons. And I’m afraid that non-fee earners are not persons that are much loved at law firms.” She said, “with more support I would have been happier, obviously,” and that “I didn’t feel I was receiving any real respect for the amount of work I was putting in.”

Deloitte Legal has been registering impressive growth in the CEE region. CEE Legal Matters sat down with Andrei Burz-Pinzaru, Head of Deloitte Legal in Central Europe, to learn more about what fueled the development of Deloitte’s legal services function and what the firm’s plans are for the future.

Law firm spin-offs are a familiar phenomenon in CEE. To find out what challenges lawyers have to deal with when they leave established firms to start new ones in the current climate, CEE Legal Matters sat down with several partners who have done just that to get their perspectives on the process.

On October 29, 2018, leading Austrian law firms Dorda, Eisenberger & Herzog, Herbst Kinsky, PHH, Schoenherr, SCWP Schindhelm, and Wolf Theiss announced their joint launch of the “Legal Tech Hub Vienna”: a non-profit forum for LegalTech companies, start-ups, and other legal market participants to identify innovation potential and work together to implement technological tools appearing ever-more-rapidly on the legal market.

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: Who was your mentor, and what was the most important lesson you learned from him or her?

Scaling the Summit: On the 7th of June, less than eight hours after saying final good-byes to the private practitioners attending the Deal of the Year Awards Banquet, CEE Legal Matters greeted the hundred plus in-house counsel attending the fourth annual regional General Counsel Summit, located this year at the Congress Center of Prague’s Czech National Bank.

Representatives of more than sixty law firms from across Central and Eastern Europe and from as far away as the United States, United Kingdom, and China came together in Prague on June 6, 2018, for the first ever Dealer’s Choice international law firm conference and CEE Deal of the Year Awards Banquet.

After a valuable and information-rich day of panel discussions on important business development and law firm management topics, participants reconvened that evening (and were joined by several dozen newcomers) at the first ever CEE Legal Matters Annual Banquet and Deal of the Year Awards Ceremony – a celebration of CEE’s legal markets and the lawyers who work within them. Awards were presented for 17 qualifying markets in CEE – plus a surprise award for overall CEE Deal of the Year – with many of the lawyers playing key roles in nominated deals joining the celebration.

The CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year awards ceremony in Prague on June 6 brought together experts and law practitioners from the region and provided an opportunity to look back at the year while awarding the participants for work on some of the most complex and unique transactions in 2017. The projects represented a variety of different types of transactions, including capital markets, M&A, financing, real estate, and restructuring. The transactions were also some of the biggest and first-of-their-kind transactions in Europe in 2017 and, as such, are reflective of how the CEE region has transformed over the past years and what the future is likely to bring for those countries.

I write this flying high above the United States, shortly after the conclusion of what may well have been the most frantic and stressful week in the almost five-year history of CEE Legal Matters.