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Deloitte Albania sh.p.k. – Deloitte Kosova sh.p.k.

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Olindo Shehu, Tax and legal partner

Olindo Shehu, Tax and legal partner of Deloitte Albania and Kosovo discusses the establishment and expansion of the firm in Albania and Kosovo.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Deloitte Legal Albania and Kosovo from your competitors?

There are two factors that differentiate our practice from our competitors.

The first one is the team of our legal professionals. Our legal practice is relatively new. In previous years Deloitte Albania and Kosovo employed legal practitioners. However, it wasn’t until last year that the idea of a fully structured legal department was set up. Keeping in mind our goal of building a strong and competitive legal practice in Albania and Kosovo, I can proudly say we have now succeeded in bringing together an extraordinary team of legal professionals in the local markets together with the existing resources of Deloitte.

Based on Deloitte’s global initiative, we decided to take the chance and build a legal department within Deloitte. We were successful in the recruiting process and today we have a team of 13 lawyers in Albania and Kosovo, with a wide range of knowledge and skills. Our lawyers are ambitious, hardworking, and innovative with a clear goal to make an impact and position this new practice among the best law practices in the region.

Our lawyers come from different educational and working backgrounds which provides them with the ability to have a comparative view of legislation. They are also able to provide assistance in several languages including Albanian, English, Italian, Serbian and Turkish.

The second factor, for which I am particularly proud, is the synergy among the service lines. It is amazing to see how well the legal practice complements other lines of service, especially with the tax department. This synergy results in an added value to our product and to the advice provided to our clients with tax and legal issues. This way we can offer a multidisciplinary business perspective on our clients’ legal problems, viewed from all aspects that may have an impact on it.

Almost every major transaction, being a sale of assets or shares, an acquisition of a line of business, a concession agreement, a due diligence or simply a hiring process, requires knowledge from a multidisciplinary team. Having a legal team that adds a significant amount of value to our existing financial advisors, tax professionals, accounting specialists and consultants makes the difference and makes us unique in the market.

Which practices in your member firm do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

The hydrocarbons industry and the energy sector are undergoing significant changes and we believe that these fields will be our focus in the coming months. We are currently advising several clients that are major actors in these sectors. Industry knowledge has already and will become more important. For this reason we have on our team industry specialists, and are eager to grow this part of the team in the near future.

Similarly corporate M&A will continue to grow based on the developments that the above-mentioned sector will bring. Our M&A team has already been engaged in a transaction in Kosovo involving the banking sector, and is expected to start a similar one in Albania very soon.

We believe that our professional skills and interdisciplinary structure enables us to serve clients involved in a restructuring, expansion or M&A project.

Also day-to-day advice to our clients on employment issues, compliance, data protection, and consumer protection remains an important part of our work. We expect that our labour law specialists will face a serious workload by the end of May when the amendments to the Labour Code are expected to enter into law. And while both Albania and Kosovo are going through tough economic times resulting in a smaller market, there have also been new opportunities. Among our standard professional services, our focus now is to serve our clients where they need us the most through cost-saving ideas, proper structuring of their human capital, tax efficiency in their operations and lowering the financial burden of their legal disputes.

What is the main change you have made in your firm that will benefit clients?

As mentioned above, the major change that we made last year was the creation of an extremely talented legal department, covering both the Albania and Kosovo jurisdictions that works in complete synergy with the other service lines offering our clients a one-stop-shop through our 360-degree coverage. Our clients appreciate our services and are providing us with the opportunity to grow and have high expectations for the future.

How is technology changing the way you interact with your clients and the services you can provide them?

In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, we as part of a global network keep track of new developments while still pledging allegiance to core values such as having a direct relationship with clients. Since we value our clients, we do not want to put machines between us. However, our professionals will use new technology such as data exchanges to increase interoperability with clients.

In summary we try to manage the necessity of keeping up with the latest technology developments while keeping the interests of our clients paramount. We will certainly continue to improve our people and invest in new technology that will allow us to make a difference as a legal practice in both Albania and Kosovo.

Can you give us a practical example of how you helped a client add value to their business?

As mentioned earlier, this is a big year for our legal practice in Deloitte. Although at the beginning of our journey, during the last month we assisted private clients and government authorities to make strategic decisions. For instance, we were engaged by the Albanian Government to perform a legal background check of the participants in a public tender for a concession agreement. Our insight and advice helped the Albanian Government draw the correct conclusions, preventing economic and reputational damage to the country. Our work was so appreciated that the respective Minister mentioned the results of our work to the Albanian parliament and on a number of television shows stressing the importance of relying on professional services.

Another example is the assistance we are providing to a small size enterprise that is in the process of building and operating the first wind power plant in Albania. We are following closely the financing, permitting and licensing process of the project to help our clients achieve great results. This approach makes the difference in the market and is also very much appreciated by our clients.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three year's time?

One of our focuses is to provide the client with stability. We provide a wide range of services and our clients are aware that they can obtain fully integrated and solid advice in relation for their legal issues. Our objective is to combine our services with our legal knowledge and act as business partner to our clients, helping them move forward. As you can see our ability to build multidisciplinary teams dedicated to the client’s needs enhances the stability offered to our clients and their trust in our practice.

Considering how much we have grown in the past 9 months, in the next few years we hope to double the size of the practice in terms of the number of clients we serve and the number of legal professionals in our department.

Besides our achievements in Tax, Audit, Financial Advisory, ERS and Consulting in the next years, we are optimistic that Deloitte Albania and Kosovo will be a highly distinguished firm for the legal services provided by our practitioners. We aim to rank among the five best legal advisory teams in Albania and Kosovo.

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