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THE LEGAL 500 > EVENTS > PRAGUE ROUNDTABLE: THE CHANGING ROLE OF IN-HOUSE COUNSEL IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

PRAGUE ROUNDTABLE: THE CHANGING ROLE OF IN-HOUSE COUNSEL IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE


On November 8 The Legal 500 and sponsor firm CEE Attorneys brought together a selection of Central and Eastern Europe’s leading in-house counsel to discuss the professional challenges faced by lawyers operating in a wide number of geographies, as well as the general evolution of the role of the in-house role in the region. General counsel arrived from several jurisdictions and were joined by a number of partners from CEE Attorneys, representing the firm’s various regional offices. Attendees represented a range of companies, from multinationals such as Volkswagen, Deloitte, Accenture and Lukoil to smaller regional players. Central Europe’s vibrant tech scene was also represented with the GCs of Czech software developer JetBrains, online travel platform platform Invia, and multinational cybersecurity company AVAST Software all joining the discussion.

The evening began with GCs reflecting on what they felt were the unique aspects of advising businesses in the Central and Eastern Europe market. Those representing larger institutions headquartered outside the region were keen to discuss the challenges of synchronising local market conditions and legal structures with their organisation’s global policies. As one commented, ‘Policies are often decided by a committee in New York and we are expected to implement these across the regional business, even in cases where the specific laws being referenced are not applicable, or legally problematic, in the local market.’ While this was a common challenge, it was also seen as an opportunity. Another commented, ‘by contacting headquarters early I am helping to make sure that blanket policies are not imposed on smaller markets and that what we are trying to do as a business reflects all of our operations. That is something more regional counsel should appreciate – it is often the case that the business is not aware of the issues we are facing, and they are happy when this is brought to their attention.’

For companies headquartered in the region, particularly those in the tech space, making sure products could move across borders without hitting legal barriers was a related issue. It was also clear that the role of in-house counsel is becoming more important across the region. As one commented, ‘if you compare salaries now with those five years ago you can clearly see the gap between private practice and in-house closing. At the same time there is also a rising number of lawyers working in-house. Yet, paradoxically, there is less of a tendency to view the role as a cost centre. That to me shows that the profession is evolving along the same lines here as in other markets.’

The Legal 500 and CEE Attorneys would like to thank all the attendees for their fascinating and forthright comments and interventions.

Please scroll down to see pictures of the event:

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