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The landlocked former Soviet republic struggles to move beyond political division and geopolitical pressures to find a steady and reliable path to prosperity.

The Republic of Moldova has three and a half million people – two and a half million fewer than when it was part of the Soviet Union. The Soviet bar was strictly a criminal/civil/family bar, with lawyers doing international legal work concentrated mainly in Moscow. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, local bars (such as Moldova’s) were forced to develop legal capabilities from scratch to serve the needs of local businesses and foreign investors.

On April 1, 2019, a team led by Francisc and Carmen Peli left Romania’s highly-ranked and widely-respected PeliFilip, which the Pelis had co-founded in 2008, to start PeliPartners.  We reached out to Francisc Peli to learn more about the reasons for the big change and his plans for the new firm.

Pavel Hristov opened the doors of Bulgaria’s Hristov & Partners law firm in 2013. Since then, his firm has grown steadily, and today competes on even terms with the long-established powers on the Bulgarian law firm market. We sat down with Hristov, himself a highly-regarded commercial lawyer, to learn about his firm’s history, strategy, and success.

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across CEE about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: How do you do performance reviews, and how important are they to the planning and management of the firm?”

Having been a foreign lawyer abroad for a significant part of my career so far – this last decade in CEE – I can say that the past couple of years have been the most interesting, and I mean that in the Confucian sense.  Not because of local market developments or interesting deals – though there have been plenty of both – but because of the events of 2016 and a certain painful embarrassment and anguish I feel when a well-meaning acquaintance, colleague, or client, in genuine bewilderment, looks me in the eye and asks me, in my capacity as a British citizen and English lawyer, “what on earth is going on?”

Resentment by domestic law firms in CEE markets against the international and regional firms that have moved in on their once exclusive domain is a common, though perhaps diminishing, refrain. How do domestic law firms in Slovenia feel about the foreign firms that have opened up shop next door?

Bulgaria, it seems, is in good shape. Fueled by a buoyant tech sector, the country’s economy is registering impressive growth, incomes are rising, and unemployment is down. Still, with corruption still a problem and the prospect of a global slowdown around the corner, few are willing to bet on the good times sticking around long. As always, in the Land of Roses, the thorns are not far away.

Unimpressed by Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, Stela Pavlova and Katerina Kaloyanova have, in recent years, left positions with high-powered international law firms in London to return to their native Bulgaria and join Schoenherr’s office in Sofia. Both insist the trade-offs were less dramatic than many assume … and both credit Schoenherr Bulgaria’s Managing Partner Alexandra Doytchinova with making them feel right at home. 

The Deal: In May, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that Linklaters, Kocian Solc Balastik, the BLC Law Office, Paksoy, and Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski had provided advice on Czech, English, Georgian, Turkish, and Bulgarian law, respectively, to Energo-Pro a.s. on its EUR 250 million Eurobond issue in London. Allen & Overy, BGI Legal in Tbilisi, Boyanov & Co. in Bulgaria, and Turkey’s Gedik & Eraksoy advised the joint bookrunners, BNP Paribas, Citigroup Global Markets Limited and J.P. Morgan Securities plc, and the Trustee, Citibank, N.A., London Branch.

The Diri Law Firm was founded in Izmir in 1990 by Hayri Diri as an independent and full-service law firm. Thirty years later, the firm continues to serve both international and Turkish clients across a variety of different industries and sectors. But the firm is now led by Hayri Diri’s daughter, Nazan Diri Bal, who has rebranded and expanded it. With Nazan Diri Bal in charge, it is full speed ahead at Diri Legal.

In The Corner Office we ask Senior and Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: “What is the one skill, ability, or characteristic that fresh law school graduates in your country most commonly lack?”

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.