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Czech lawyers, not known for ebullience, are nonetheless finding it hard to keep the smiles off their faces. After a decade of disappointment and struggle, if the Managing Partners at Czech firms are to be believed, the last remnants of the global financial crisis have dissipated and business is booming. As spring rolls through Central Europe, the sunshine is both meteorological and metaphoric. Prague is basking in the warmth.

Ranking services form a critical part of the law firm landscape in CEE as around the world, and law firm marketing and business development functions in the region spend many weeks or months each year preparing their submissions for those ranking services they believe are most widely read and influential. Still, not everybody is convinced the ranking services are as effective or valuable as they could be. Thus, for this issue, we asked the law firm marketing and BD experts around CEE: “What one change would you most like to see made to the law firm rankings to make them more useful/effective?” 

I keep hearing that local offices of international firms have been dominating the CEE legal market. Journalists covering the market look at the corporate, finance, and litigation league tables for the region, notice that international firms occupy more places than would be typical in Western Europe, and report a story of global brand domination. I am almost certainly biased, but I see things differently.

Special warning: This is a personal editorial, and not particularly related to lawyering in CEE. I hope our readers will indulge this unusual exception to our normal practice.

A significant anniversary inevitably causes us to reflect upon the period gone by. The sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US started in 2007 and, after spreading to other countries, became the global financial crisis that caused the longest-lasting recession of the post-war era. This recession, in conjunction with other factors, triggered sweeping changes in the Hungarian legal market. In retrospect, clear, recognizable patterns have emerged in the ten years since then. 

I have been doing deals in the CEE region in one capacity or another for over a decade now. My initial introduction to the region was during my time in New York and London with Cleary Gottlieb where I frequently instructed local law firms in the region on cross-border transactions.

After 27 years of a free market economy and parliamentary democracy, 17 years inside the NATO structure, and 12 years of membership in the European Union, it is easy to forget how much has changed in Poland since the fall of communism. Looking back (and having the perspective of over two decades of professional experience), it is safe to say that nothing would ever be the same after Poland’s transformation.

In The Corner Office, we invite Managing Partners at law firms from across the region to share information about their careers, management styles, and strategies. For this issue, we asked them to describe the first major deal or client matter they generated themselves, and how they did it. 

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