fivehundred magazine > > Interview with… Katarína Čechová

Interview with… Katarína Čechová

Personal Timeline – Katarína Čechová, Managing Partner

1984 – Commencement of attorney legal practise

1990 – Foundation of the firm

2000 – Co-chair of the European Forum of the International Bar Association

2018 – Awarded by the leading Slovak economic daily Hospodárske noviny as Top Woman of Slovak Business

2018 – Inducted to the Hall of Fame by Legal 500

2019 – Awarded as Eminent Practitioner in Corporate and M&A by Chambers

2019 – Recognized among 300 best female worldwide lawyers in their areas nationally by IFLR1000

2020 – Ranked among Women Leaders 2020 by IFLR1000

Which recent change of the legislation has impacted the market noticeably?

Definitely the legislation adopted to eliminate the negative economic impact caused due to the necessary prevention of the spreading of the Covid disease has influenced the market significantly. Introduction of temporary protection of businesses against declaration of bankruptcy may cause further negative consequences due to non-cleaning of the market of businesses which would have ended liquidated if not had been so protected. The length of the pandemic leads to more and more serious doubts of recovery of many companies fighting with illiquidity or over-indebtedness.

What would you single out as the key distinguishments of your firm?

Its 30 years history as the first independent local law firm (unlimited partnership; all other firms established in 1990 were only office cost-sharing partnerships) has provided us with a unique position, an excellent knowledge of the business environment and an extremely experienced team. Strong professional ethics and integrity of all members of the firm, social responsibility, regular pro bono services and, particularly the fact that the majority of the partners are women, distinguish the firm significantly from many other law firms present on the Slovak legal market.

What does innovation mean to you and how can firms be better at it?

Our IT infrastructure evidenced how important it is to keep it innovated and to dispose with new IT technologies. We were immediately able to assist and meet with clients online, without any interruption in provision of legal services. In many aspects interaction and communication became more vital than it used to be without such massive use of IT technologies – what is a positive surprise. We are very grateful to the experts from our IT department who do excellent job also in the area of information security, data protection and improving communication channels inside and outside the firm.

Slovakia has been roundly praised on the world stage for its proactive response to Covid-19. With an ambitious nationwide testing programme underway, what can you tell us about how your firm is responding to these uniquely challenging times?

Since the end of February 2020, we not only provide free of charge advice to all our clients regarding adopted measures linked to the Covid pandemic, their application and interpretation, but via our Covid-19 resource centre on our webpage (in Slovak and in English) we provide regular updates on the current situation impacts on Slovak legal regulation. As not only the nationwide testing programme, but also vaccination, fully occupied hospitals and exhausted physicians and nursery personnel cost a lot of effort and money Cechova & Partners also financially supports ‘Help to Slovakia ‘(https://ktopomozeslovensku.sk/).

Following Britain’s exit from the European Union, speculation over trade deals and import tariffs for Slovakian manufacturers is gathering pace. How are you providing support to clients in these key sectors?

By precise monitoring of the development of legal regulation and regular updates addressed to our clients.

Communication towards clients is the key element in the work of a modern lawyer in these days. It is not enough to wait until clients come with issues, proactive approach and preparation for changes is a must.

Following the formation of the new coalition government earlier this year, what key shifts, if any, are you anticipating in the market?

I strongly hope the new coalition government is able to fulfil its plans in improvement of the rule of law, enforcement of law and in decrease of corruption in Slovakia.

The World Investment Report found that the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Slovakia more than doubled between 2018 and 2019 – with many investors citing the relative low-cost, highly-skilled workforce and ease of doing business. From your vantage point, how is this boom in FDI playing out?

A highly-skilled workforce, decreasing bureaucracy, communication with public authorities via electronic means and transparent rules for doing business will continue in improvement, I believe. Provided law enforcement becomes more accessible and court proceedings shorter, FDI will continue to come despite it is in question how long we can argue with low-cost in Slovakia…

How is Slovakia’s growing reputation as a regional tech hub shaping the type of mandates your firm receives?

Significantly. Our practice groups in the areas of mainly data protection and IP rights grew up in recent years. However, it brings also further needs in specialization in the areas of employment, public procurement, security, advertisement, competition.

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