fivehundred magazine > > Interview with Branko Marić, Managing Partner, Marić & Co. Law Firm

Interview with Branko Marić, Managing Partner, Marić & Co. Law Firm

Following the recent dip, what is your prediction for levels of foreign investment into Bosnia & Herzegovina in the next year?

Considering its history and the political complexities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are continuously in a state of crisis, whether it is political uncertainties, Covid -19 or regional effects. Despite that, foreign investors keep coming to Bosnia, the economy keeps moving forward and keeps developing, so I am a strong believer that we can sustain any kind of problems. In terms of market trend we are seeing a significant increase in lending and securing financial resources, new credit lines are being opened to try to mitigate some of the consequences that COVID has had on the economy. Also, we are more and more witnessing local family businesses being acquired by international investors as they are recognizing the opportunities and the values that we have here.

All in all, I am very optimistic about the future of foreign investment for Bosnia and Herzegovina as there is so much opportunity for foreign investors, and it feels like they are really starting to realize it.

Do you anticipate any changes in the division of legal work between local and international firms in the next 12 months?

There is no international firms which are directly present in Bosnia and Herzegovina, only regional firms. But even the presence of the regional firms is not very significant. They work mostly with one or two domestic lawyers on deals they land abroad. As such, these local lawyers end up doing all sorts of legal work but cannot really specialize or excel in any single field. Although they may get the work referred to them, the investors quickly realize the complexities of the market and the insufficient specialization of these firms.

As such, we are seeing very positive trends in shifting the work to us – in the recent year we have been assigned with several cases which were initially handled by local cooperants of the regional firms, but the clients have

decided to move to us. We are proud to say that 2021 was one of the best years we have had since the opening of the firm.

Has the current situation in Eastern Europe significantly affected the legal market in Bosnia & Herzegovina, given the close links many firms have with the CEE region via their Serbian offices?

We do not see any major disruptions in the legal market which would be the result of the current global trends. The market is very much alive, deals are happening and new clients are coming in.

What are the biggest challenges facing the Bosnia legal market in the next 12 months?

Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing one of the most serious crisis since the end of the war – considering that we have general elections scheduled for October, political rhetoric will surely get even more heated and the crisis will deepen. However, we do not expect any major turmoil in the legal market to result from this.

Have ESG considerations prompted you to re-evaluate the service you provide?

ESG is just starting to make its debut in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we are just starting to see deals where ESG is a factor. As ESG gains traction in Bosnia down the road we will probably look into introducing a separate department specialized just for ESG matters.

In terms of our own business, although there is not regulatory requirements that we would need to observe, we strive to be very sustainable and green and looking at ways of minimizing our own footprint.

What sets your firm apart from competitors?

We try very hard to build long-term relations with our clients and aim to be accessible to them when they need assistance. We also try to look at the business side of things when tailoring our advice, and not just focus on the purely legal aspects. With over 15 lawyers in the office, we can definitely say that we are the largest office in the country. Size of the office allows us to have highly specialized attorneys for each field, which is a necessity in the Bosnia and Herzegovina market.

Are there specific practice areas you see as particularly thriving, which you intend to bolster in coming years? Are there any new areas of practice that have emerged recently?

Currently we are seeing a lot of work in the banking and finance sectors, intellectual property, data protection, as well as a rather significant amount of M&A deals. A lot of local firms have developed enough and are obtaining foreign financing and/or foreign partners so that keeps us quite busy.

We are also monitoring closely the digital currencies trends and all the challenges that come with them (especially in an underdeveloped market such as ours) and we expect that probably this will be of significance down the road.

8. What are your firm’s policies on diversity and inclusion? Does your firm have any specific diversity initiatives?

Although we do not have specific policy on diversity and inclusion, we always try to recruit and retain top talent. This inevitably caused highly diverse staff – 70% of the staff in the firm are women, and 5 out of 6 partners are women, while all staff has a very diverse background and ethnicity.

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