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On June 17, 2018, the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Greece concluded the Prespa Agreement which, according to Pepeljugoski Partner Valentin Pepeljugoski, “resolved the name issue as a historical problem between the countries and was a step forward for North Macedonia to become an EU member.” After Bulgaria opposed the start of accession negotiations in October 2020 and again in June 2021, he says that “the country’s next hopes for EU membership are tied to the EU Summit on December 14, 2021, when a date for the start of negotiations with the EU is expected. The focus in the next period is on preparing the administration for all challenges related to the negotiation process, starting from the screening to the achievement of the final goal.”

“Immediately after gaining independence in 2006, Montenegro set EU accession and the integration process as one of its foreign policy priorities,” says Jovovic, Mugosa & Vukovic Managing Partner Vanja Mugosa. “It started membership negotiations with the EU in 2012 and has so far opened all 33 negotiating chapters, three of which have already been temporarily closed: Chapter 25 (Science and Research) in 2012, Chapter 26 (Education and Culture) in 2013, and Chapter 30 (External Relations) in 2017.”

According to Ibrahimovic & Co Managing Partner Adi Ibrahimovic, “the EU’s engagement with Bosnia and Herzegovina has gone through sporadic periods of intensifying cooperation and uncertain situations,” leading Dimitrijevic & Partners Partner Davorin Marinkovic to summarize the current status as: “frankly speaking, the public perception is that nobody actually knows.”

At the end of each year, business development and marketing specialists across the globe are busy identifying strategies and components to plan an annual marketing budget. Accordingly, this time around, given the season, we asked Law Firm Marketing experts across the CEE region a question: Which metrics do you look at when planning your marketing budget?

“The genesis of Albania’s EU accession talks dates back to June 2003, when Albania, alongside other Western Balkan countries, was identified as a potential candidate for EU membership,” explains Deloitte Legal Local Legal Partner Sabina Lalaj. While Hoxha, Memi & Hoxha Partner Eris Hoxha points out that Albania was a candidate country since 2014, official membership negotiations were opened only on March 25, 2020. According to Kalo & Associates Co-Managing Partner Aigest Milo, “the next step is for the first Inter-Governmental Conference to be held (presumably during the first semester of 2022),” but Hoxha says “no specific date has been determined yet.”

When I was presented with the opportunity to share my views on lawyering in Serbia and the current legal market, one of my first thoughts was where we were 20 years ago, when Serbia had just opened its doors to foreign capital, privatization started, and international banks and investors began their search for the same quality of advice and advisers they had back home. The bar was dramatically increased, traditional law firms thought they were untouchable, and only a handful of new-generation lawyers, although with very modest international experience, was able to adapt and meet this challenge.

CEE Legal Matters spoke with CMS Partner and Head of Environmental Law Practice in Poland and CEE Agnieszka Skorupinska and CMS Turkey Managing Partner Done Yalcin about the impacts of the EU Green Deal and the rise of ESG in Europe and beyond.

On February 18, 2021, following a five-year preparation period, the Saeima – the parliament of the Republic of Latvia – adopted amendments to the country’s Advocacy Law, addressing, inter alia, the proper corporate form for law firms. Going forward, in Latvia, a law firm must either be a partnership (either general or limited) or a limited liability company. CEE Legal Matters spoke with several Latvian lawyers about the newly amended law.

I have been the managing partner of the pan-Baltic law firm Lextal – with offices in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – for six years. During this time the market has changed considerably.

In issue 8.3 of the CEE Legal Matters magazine, we spoke with Amberlo Co-Founder and CEO Aidas Kavaliauskas to learn more about the company’s cloud-based case management software built for legal professionals. With this issue’s focus on the Baltics and with the company being, at its roots, a Baltic one, we spoke with several law firms in the region that were early adopters of the solution, to learn about their experience using the platform and what advice they have in terms of selecting such a tool for a law firm.

In my career, I have lived through four crises. In 1991, when I started a legal business, there was a total economic collapse, with a shortage of the most basic essential goods – no furniture or computers, or even proper light bulbs for the office. Then there was the ‘Russian’ crisis of 2000, a crisis of foreign currency and the ruble. The one of 2008-2010 followed. And now we have the COVID-19 pandemic – perhaps not so much an economic crisis as one arising from a climate of uncertainty.

Poland and Ukraine – a distinct pairing some would say. The two European countries are close to one another – both geographically and historically – yet, while they share a lot of similarities, they remain quite distinct. Given the sheer size of these countries and economies, their relationship, and a growing amount of investor interest – going both ways – we took a deeper dive to explore what makes their relations tick. And what better way is there to understand the countries’ entangled relationship than to talk to someone with Marcin Wierzbicki’s profile? Born and raised in Poland, the Konieczny Wierzbicki Managing Partner has had the opportunity to spend quite some time in Ukraine and, as such, has a unique perspective on both countries and their respective markets.

Even though situated at the outskirts of the EU, Poland undoubtedly serves as one of the main pathways into the Union’s affluent west. The importance of its infrastructure is reflected in its prioritized investment position. Looking at investments made by the European Investment Bank alone, one could see that out of the EUR 79.8 billion invested in the country since 1990, about 47% went to infrastructure.

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.”