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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.

It was in early 2009, within a London Business School program, when I was first faced with a clearly articulated and empirically supported argument about the advent of legal technology and the structural transformations in the legal services market that were likely to ensue.

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.

Against the backdrop of concerns that changes in technology may cost law firms jobs come reports that law firms in Slovakia are having trouble finding the skilled law school graduates to fill their associate ranks. Whether because of a decrease in the perceived attractiveness of a career in a law firm, a prolonged mandatory traineeship period, or some other reason, many see a serious problem developing.

To a large extent, the ability of law firm marketing and business development experts to successfully promote the firms they work within depends on the support they get from their firms’ partners. So we asked them: What partner at your firm would you single out for her/his recognition of the value of what you do and ability to get you what you need efficiently and quickly?

With its National Data Protection Amendment Act 2018 (“DSG 2018”) enacted well before the May 25th 2018 deadline, Austria is considered to be one of the EU leaders regarding the implementation of the GDPR. To be precise, the DSG 2018 was implemented in May, 2017, shortly before Austria’s national elections took place. The consequence of Austria’s attempt to play a pioneering role is that the DSG 2018 was rushed, and thus, at least in some parts, extremely difficult to read – and it fails to take advantage of the majority of the permitted GDPR derogations.

For a number of years, Slovakian courts struggled with domain name disputes. Because there was neither statutory legislation concerning the rights to domain names nor consistent case-law allowing for the formulation of principles for resolving disputes that arose involving them, different courts took different approaches regarding how to decide domain name cases. This made legal certainty and predictability extremely difficult for stakeholders in the country.

With the tremendous increase in the price of cryptocurrencies in 2017 the world has witnessed an explosion of cryptocurrency-related enterprises, with initial coin offerings at the forefront. Several European countries have aligned their legislation to become appealing for such enterprises and Slovenia has been mentioned on several occasions as one of the most “crypto-friendly” countries. However, as Slovenian legislation offers a very high level of protection to personal data regarding identity documents, crypto business ventures within the Slovenian jurisdiction may be at a disadvantage against foreign competitors.

More than two years ago a new system for examining trademark applications was introduced in Poland. The purpose of the so-called “opposition system” was to adapt Polish regulations to EU and international regulations and the jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice.

Starting May 25, 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation will come into effect. Although it will apply directly in all EU Member States, Member States have the option to add additional regulations to certain specific situations. This article sets out a brief overview of the key provisions of the draft of the relevant Croatian law, which is in procedure before the Croatian Parliament at the moment of writing of this article.

Until a few years ago, the narrative within legal practices, as in most service industries, focused mainly on austerity, small growth numbers, and the crises. Most legal practitioners feared an uncertain future and all the risks it held, including evolving client expectations, financial pressure, and the long-term impact of the global economic crisis.

In the summer of 2000 I was working for the University of Vienna, spending my time on academic research and fighting with topics like the (lack of) enforcement of judicial awards in Austria and Hungary. My one-day seminar at the University of Economics (FOWI) brought me several interesting contacts, including some young lawyers from the classy law firm CHS, that resulted in an offer to develop a new partner firm for CHS in Budapest.

With less than a month before it eventually rolls out across the EU, the GDPR is still treated by many businesses as a complicated piece of legislation triggering serious debate between professionals and regulators and imposing a heavy compliance burden for large organizations. However, the GDPR implementation date – May 25, 2018 – should be looked at more as a starting line rather than a hard deadline, providing organizations with the opportunity to map – through their search to identify any personal data processing – both their entire corporate life and their day-to-day operations.

As Serbia is gearing up for EU accession, harmonizing with EU legislation and business practices becomes not only mandatory, but also a market necessity. Although there are discrepancies between business practices in Serbia and in the EU, one thing seems to be unanimous: local businesses, just like their international counterparts, think ahead when it comes to securing their assets. This applies to every type of business, but it is prevailingly visible in local medium-sized to large businesses which predominantly handle and/or deal with IP portfolios. Nowadays, in the ever-evolving digital world, where almost information is at the reach of one’s hand – even to those located in remote corners of the world – attention and focus are being switched to ensuring the adequate protection of trade secrets. This process is happening in Serbia as well.

After years of anticipation, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force and took effect on May 25, 2018, bringing about several changes to Europe’s current data protection regime.

Without going into too much detail, having seen the recent turmoil regarding the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation and the fact that the subject has been more than widely debated, we wish to point out that, from our point of view, record keeping of data processing activities is a key aspect in a proper GDPR implementation scheme.

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