“There were no major changes in the structure of the Latvian legal services market in 2019,” says Lauris Liepa, the Managing Partner of Cobalt in Latvia. “As before, three firms – Cobalt, Sorainen, and Ellex – have dominated both the transactions and the corporate advisory market. While some lawyers have changed firms, there have been no major moves regarding teams or senior lawyers. One of the reasons might be a relatively good situation in the legal services market, with growth in all practice areas.”
"Every day I am afraid to open the news, to find out that yet another judge or prosecutor is being connected with certain criminal activity,” says Katarina Mihalikova, Partner at Majernik & Mihalikova in Bratislava. "On the other hand,” she adds, “it might mean that the cleansing process has finally started. We always suspected these things, but it seems we now have some proof. In the end, it turns out we were right!”
“The Estonian general election took place in March this year, and we are finally able to see the results,” says Martin Simovart, Partner at Cobalt in Estonia. “Politics in Estonia is now quite a mess. The new government is a populist coalition – this means that the situation is unstable and a polarized sentiment has been created.”
"Albania right now has a loaded political and economic situation,” says A.R.S. Legal & Financial Services Manager and Attorney at Law Elisabeta Nezaj, "considering the earthquake that hits on November 26th." That 6.4-magnitude earthquake that hit northwestern Albania was felt mainly in Durres and Tirana and as far away as Taranto and Belgrade, ultimately killing 51 people in the country — making it the world’s deadliest earthquake in 2019 — and causing massive damage to homes and infrastructure. According to her, "all government bodies are focused on providing help for the people who suffered from this event, and we are taking support from other governments to reconstruct the buildings that were damaged.”
“There are no major movements between firms, or any new firms popping up," says Petar Mitrovic, Partner at Karanovic & Partners in Belgrade, about the Serbian legal market. “There have been some movements, some partners leaving their law offices and moving to the private sector, but nothing worth writing home about."
“There haven’t been any large shifts in the legal landscape recently if we’re talking about legal offices, teams moving, exits, and so forth,” says Schoenherr Partner Miriam Simsa. “The general situation seems to be that established players have things pretty much in control and that there is not a lot of room for new entries. Yet it is fair to say that the spin-offs have been increasing their market share over the last few years.”
“Well, the legal market is pretty much stable – all firms stay firmly in their places, not a lot of tectonic shift …. all is quiet on the Western front," smiles Robert Prelesnik, Senior Partner at Rojs, Peljhan, Prelesnik & Partners in Ljubljana. “Our economy has been rather stable too, even as we approach a period of slight stagnation – we are quite far away from a recession, which is a good thing in this day and age of Europe," says Prelesnik.
“It’s not that laws don’t exist – it’s the faith in the law, courts, and lawyers that is missing,” says Zoryana Sozanska-Matviychuk, Partner at Redcliffe Partners in Kiev. “What I hope we see from the new government is not any particular legislation; it is much better implementation. This will hopefully lead to more trust in the country’s legal system as a whole.”
“Things on the state level have been rather stagnant because the government on the state level has not been formed yet, but much buzz was created around the Federation of B&H Government’s proposed new Law on Contributions and new Income Tax Law,” says Mirna Milanovic-Lalic, Partner at the Mirna Milanovic-Lalic i Jasmina Suljovic Law Firm in Sarajevo.
“What we are seeing lately is a fragmentation of the legal market, as well as intensifying competition,” says Peter Petrov, Partner at Boyanov & Co. in Bulgaria. “While no major players have entered or exited the market, there have been moves between legal teams, as well as existing teams developing new expertise.”
While Brexit is a major topic of discussion for lawyers in the Czech Republic, Prague-based Baker McKenzie Partner Milena Hoffmanova, who heads the office’s Czech Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare group, is focused on the issue of the timely flow of affordable medicinal products from manufacturers to patients.
“Generally speaking,“ Tine Misic, Partner at ODI Law says, “the Slovenian market and the economy are doing well, our long-term debt has been upgraded to AA- by S&P, which means Slovenian bonds are highly ranked, and the GDP is growing at about 3.1%, [which is] relatively high compared to other EU countries.“
“Croatia has had a wave of NPL transactions which have left behind a need for more lawyers to manage the sold loan portfolios as case managers,” says Ivna Medic of Kallay & Partners in Zagreb. She reports that the Croatian businesses have recognized the need for lawyers as compliance officers and that more and more lawyers are accepting such positions.
Austria’s political scene felt some tremors in the past few weeks following snap elections. Unsurprisingly, potential coalitions became a primary subject of discussion. “The Conservatives won in a landslide, with almost 38% of the vote, with Social Democrats taking a very distant second. with around 21%,” reports DLA Piper Country Managing Partner David Christian Bauer. Another notable result of the election is the low 16% vote for the far-right Freedom Party – the recent coalition partners of the conservatives – following insinuations of corruption. “The Conservatives will most certainly form the Government and any coalition that gets formed will have to go through them,” says Bauer, emphasizing that the Freedom Party will face strong challenges to return to rule, with the scandals and “internal turmoil they’re experiencing.”
Things continue apace in Romania, according to Schoenherr Partner Matei Florea. "It’s not slow, let me put it like this,” he says. "It’s the current new normal, with very diverse projects running at very diverse speeds. We’ve had it for a couple of years and it's professionally both challenging and satisfying.”