“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.”
According to JPM Senior Partner Jelena Gazivoda, Serbian law firms are doing well these days. "We are all very busy these past few months, which is good,” she says. "Notwithstanding the fact that there are different comments in newspapers, we are not really feeling any bad signs. In fact, we are all participating in some significant transactions, making us really busy.”
“The legal market in Poland is a bit challenging right now,” says Linklaters Partner Janusz Dzianachowski. “It's growing very fast and is quite dynamic. We see loads of new clients, which means new work – but also more competition.” According to Dzianachowski, more and more law firms are branding themselves “experts” in the field, but this does not “affect long-present, established firms.”