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Georgetown University Law Center’s 2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market concluded that “2020 may in retrospect be seen as an important inflection point for the redesign of the delivery of legal services on a broader scale” and, despite the unprecedented disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, most firms were able to adjust and adapt to the challenges with notable success, which “is a tribute to the innovation and resiliency of law firms.”

CEE Legal Matters has been reporting on an increased number of deals in the Czech Republic’s logistics sector. We reached out to several Czech real estate lawyers to discuss both the drivers behind the spike in work in the sector and the challenges it faces in the country.

Thinking about my journey and experiences as an expat lawyer in the Czech Republic, I vividly recall one of the early client meetings I had fresh off the boat in the mid-1990s. A CEE client came to the office with a “suitcase” telephone … an old school plastic telephone with a rotary dial and a long antenna, encased in an MDF “custom telecommunications suitcase” which he proudly lugged onto the desk …  (He was also wearing one of those plum-colored shiny polyester suits so beloved by New Europe Entrepreneurs in the 90s). Note to incredulous young lawyers reading this: in those days there were no mobile phones (The horror!).

On March 24, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that Alrud had advised Sino-Russian joint venture AliExpress Russia on its investment in KazanExpress. We reached out to Alrud Partner and Head of Corporate/M&A Alexander Zharskiy for more information about the deal.

On February 24, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that Russia’s Intellectual Capital law firm had persuaded the Moscow Arbitrazh Court that a requirement that participants in a Rosatom tender for legal counsel be ranked in Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners was illegal and violated Russian competition law. CEELM spoke with several lawyers in the market to learn more about the matter.

In his recent Guest Editorial EY’s Georgy Kovalenko spoke of a rising trend of large companies building up their in-house legal functions to the point where they will not only compete with law firms in terms of catering to their internal clients but will also slowly branch out into offering their services to other companies. CEE Legal Matters spoke with Eugenia Volkoskaya, General Manager of Gazpromneft Expert Solutions – an enterprise that, while not there just yet, seems poised to do exactly what Kovalenko was foreseeing.

Halfway through the third quarter, 2021 is proving to be a good year for the Russian market, both in terms of M&A activity and a frothy IPO market. This uptick in part reflects unleashing the demand pent up over the COVID-19 recession (although Russia continues to struggle with the pandemic), as well as the upturn in global energy prices (given the oil & gas sector continues to lubricate the Russian economy).

 In “The Corner Office” we ask Managing Partners at law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their backgrounds, strategies, and responsibilities. With summer having just passed, the question this time: What is your one favorite yearly activity to disconnect?

On June 15, 2021, Hungary passed legislation that bans the dissemination of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change. Dubbed by many as simply the “Anti-LGBTQ+ Law,” it has wide-ranging implications – even leaving social issues / social impact aside. CEE Legal Matters spoke with several Hungarian lawyers to discuss the law’s business implications and the impact it had on law firms’ work.

In the late Summer of 1984, while hanging out in Bucharest one evening, a university friend and I decided (with the help of some local red wine) to go “look for Dracula.” Full of adventure and certainly educational, the experience was not a positive one. Due to the harsh policies of the Ceausescu regime at the time, Romania was a dark place (there were literally few if any lights during the evenings), with little food to eat (even for foreigners like us), and a local population who would rarely, if ever, talk to us (unbeknownst to us at the time, the Romanian secret police, the Securitate, required anyone who had contact with a foreigner to report the interaction – needless to say, this was not conducive to long and meaningful conversations).

Looking at the past 18 months, as economies across CEE contracted, the technology, media, and telecom sector has been surging. A balancing factor for economies, it helped avoid a deeper recession. For CEE law firms, TMT’s solid performance brought in a steady amount of work, helping polish what might otherwise have been a lackluster year.

Before the democratic changes of 1990 lawyers worked independently but under the supervision of the Minister of Justice. Remunerations were limited, leading to an administrative distribution of work. Lawyers were mainly involved in family and inheritance law, sale-purchase of housing, and cooperative relations.

The Ukrainian legal services market has been buzzing with work in the first half of 2021. CEE Legal Matters hosted a round table conversation in which Partners at Asters, Avellum, Integrites, Kinstellar, and Sayenko Kharenko discussed the driving forces behind the workload and their outlook for the months to come.

The pandemic has been devastating for Ukraine, with underfunded health services struggling to contain COVID-19 contagion. Scenes of hospitals overwhelmed with patients and lacking staff, equipment, and medication will haunt us even as cases drop and vaccinations rise. It has been a traumatic time for our team at the Kyiv Dentons office. We have been working hard to support and guide each other towards the glimmer of light at the end of this long and, at times scary, tunnel.

Regional periodical league tables ranking M&A activity through the lens of the law firms advising on the deals are often dominated by Baltic law firms, with the CEELM Index special issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine reflecting the same trend. To better understand why that is so, we spoke with several Partners – from both Baltic firms and other CEE jurisdictions.

Over the years, all countries in the CEE region have drawn best-practice models from the West, particularly in legal, economic, and business terms. In a number of CEE countries, offices of international law firms opened in response to the needs of their global clients and market opportunities. These firms played a significant role and introduced their know-how to the legal market. Parallel to this, strong local players emerged in each of these countries, changing the competitive environment and challenging the international ones. Over the last few years, you can see a revision of the need to maintain a presence in the region by some international law firms, most notably Magic Circle and White Shoe firms.

While the Dealer’s Choice Conference in London could not be organized this year in a safe manner due to current events, on July 20, 2021, CEE Legal Matters sat down with several of the event’s sponsors to take a closer look at the Deals of the Year award winners this year.