FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome to The Legal 500 CEE/CIS (EMEA). Since 1991, we have been providing readers with an annually updated, impartial, third-party opinion on the leading law firms and lawyers in countries across the region, and the coverage extends to the Caucasus and Central Asia. Current rankings and information online are taken from The Legal 500 Europe, Middle East and Africa 2017 edition, which was published on 12 April 2017.
The EMEA guide provides researched coverage of 81 countries and over 2,700 ranked law firms. Law firms pay nothing to participate and so we are free to make ranking decisions on merit alone.
Our research is conducted annually, providing a detailed qualitative assessment of various factors including work conducted by law firms over the past 12 months and historically; experience and depth of teams; specialisms and ancillary services; and, importantly, opinions of law firms’ clients – each year, The Legal 500 series contacts over 300,000 clients globally to obtain feedback on which law firms meet the criteria required by today's in-house counsel and business leaders, wherever in the world their work takes them. All of this is used to benchmark each law firm versus competitors in the practice area in question.
The Legal 500 EMEA 2017 Launch date
The Legal 500 EMEA 2017 edition is now live.
The EMEA 2018 research schedule and guidelines will be available in early May 2017, with research taking place in autumn (fall) 2017.
Feedback or queries
If you have queries or feedback of any kind regarding The Legal 500 series, please email your query to us at email@example.com. We welcome suggestions for new legal market coverage desired by our readers.
Editor, The Legal 500 CEE/CIS
Senior Editor, The Legal 500 EMEA
The Czech Republic is one of the most stable markets in the CEE region and attracts a sizeable amount of foreign direct investment. Its location enables easy access to other CEE countries, Russia and Western Europe and its impressive infrastructure network facilitates trade across the region. Acquisition financing terms have been very favourable in recent times, giving rise to a number of high volume, if rarely high value, deals. The country is host to a number of international, regional and local law firms. This year’s guide sees the introduction of two new dedicated practice areas: Labour and employment and Projects and energy.
Hungary is an attractive destination for investors due to its geographical location, sophisticated infrastructure and highly skilled (and affordable) labour force. Investors are able to benefit from a combination of tax incentives, cash subsidies and low-interest loans. The vast majority of transactions in the country are at a domestic level, with local buyers and targets. Important sectors in the country include manufacturing, IT and technology. The Hungarian state and state-owned companies are particularly active in energy and financial services deals, but, in a departure from previous years, 2016 saw the state being on the sell-side as the National Bank of Hungary divested MKB Bank to a consortium of two private equity funds. International firms, international tie-ups and major domestic firms all have a presence in the country, while the Big Four have also signalled their intent to bolster their legal services with new hires.
Resource-rich Kazakhstan has been impacted by the drop in commodity prices globally, but energy and natural resources mandates remain the market’s marquee work. Plans are afoot to develop the Astana International Financial Centre, set to officially launch on 1 January 2018, as part of the government’s stated aim of establishing Astana as the region’s financial hub. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that White & Case Kazakhstan LLP closed its office in Almaty to refocus its resources in Astana. The country recently has seen an influx of international law firms, creating a dynamic market comprising international, pan-regional and domestic firms. The 2017 guide sees the editorial coverage split out by practice area for the first time, in recognition of the legal market’s growing sophistication.
Poland is Central and Eastern Europe’s largest economy (when excluding Russia from the definition) and, despite forecasters predicting a slowdown, its buoyant real estate market continues to attract domestic and international investors. The market is a significant beneficiary of EU funding and has been allocated €82.5bn under the European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020 financial framework, with transport infrastructure and initiatives to promote SME competitiveness in the areas in which the country is investing. International and local law firms have a presence in the market, with the majority based in Warsaw. Of note was Noerr’s acquisition of DJBW, which significantly bolsters the firm’s offering in the country.
Romania is CEE’s fastest growing economy and an appealing destination for regional investors, although domestic M&A still dominates the market, in part driven by generational succession issues in owner-managed businesses, a sector that is a key element of the economy. There has also been a recent trend towards consolidation in areas such as fast moving consumer goods and medical services.
The legal market is highly competitive, consisting of a healthy mix of local and international firms, as well as a raft of good young firms founded by lawyers who have split out from more established players. Interestingly, the market also has a high proportion of females in senior roles and one all-female boutique, the PPP-focused VASS Lawyers.
Russia’s economy continues to be impacted by the international sanctions imposed on the country, together with the global decline in oil prices. Yet the full impact of the sanctions could have been much greater were it not somewhat mitigated by increased investment in the country from China and the Far East in projects and joint ventures in areas such as transport infrastructure, oil and gas and consumer goods. As a result, law firms have picked up Chinese banks, corporates and private equity funds as new clients. The market includes prominent Russian firms competing with several heavyweight international players, and a large number of good smaller operations.