Central and Eastern Europe 2019 – GC Powerlist

Central and Eastern Europe 2019

Adam Puchalski

Director of legal projects | Bank Pekao


What are the most important transactions and litigations that you have been involved in during the last two years? The proposed merger of Bank Pekao and Alior Bank – the...

#GCPowerlist Central and Eastern Europe 2019

Adina Calfa

Group general counsel | E-Infra (Electrogrup Infrastructure )

Transport and infrastructure

What are the most important transactions and litigations that you have been involved in during the last two years? At the beginning of the year I took over the role...

#GCPowerlist Central and Eastern Europe 2019

Adina Gutiu

General counsel | LUKOIL Romania

Energy and utilities

What are the unique challenges of working as an in-house lawyer in Romania? In terms of talent, Romanians are very smart, ambitious, innovative and eager to prove themselves as professionals....

#GCPowerlist Central and Eastern Europe 2019

Agnieszka Dzięgielewska-Jończyk

General counsel | Skanska Central Europe

Industrials and real estate

What are the most important transactions and litigations that you have been involved in during the last two years? This year the Skanska Company is implementing a new corporate governance...

#GCPowerlist Central and Eastern Europe 2019

Agnieszka Gotlibowska-Horoszczak

General counsel | ITI Neovision

Sports and media

After gaining experience in corporate departments working for leading Polish and international law firms, Agnieszka Gotlibowska-Horoszczak focused on media and telecommunication law. She worked in legal departmens of MTV Networks...

#GCPowerlist Central and Eastern Europe 2019

Editor Message

Since first being published as The Corporate Counsel 100, The Legal 500’s GC Powerlist series has grown exponentially since its beginnings in 2013. It started by covering four of the world’s most established legal markets, and whilst the core objective of the publication – highlighting the most capable, outstanding and innovative in-house counsel in a jurisdiction – has remained the same, the reach and scope of the GC Powerlist has since become almost unrecognisable. Now present in a vast array of jurisdictions and with a portfolio of 70 unique editions, the GC Powerlist series has firmly been established as the “go-to” title that assesses and features leading corporate counsel across the globe.

Now, we at The Legal 500 are evolving the GC Powerlist series even further, deepening our commitment to highlighting and exploring issues and challenges at the forefront of the minds of leading in-house lawyers. Therefore, this and future editions of the GC Powerlist will have a very different look to their predecessors. Instead of profiling individual counsel or in-house legal teams, more incisive insights from in-house thought leaders on the topics of the day will be featured extensively throughout our new look GC Powerlist publications.

With an abundance of feedback from senior in-house legal professionals across Central and Eastern Europe as well as their counterparts in private practice, this year’s edition of the GC Powerlist: Central and Eastern Europe is the largest ever by some distance. In addition to in-depth qualitative information via interviews, we also obtained feedback in the form of a short survey, offering concise information about some of the most important topics in market. The results can be seen on the opposite page in chart format.

As the data shows, a large percentage of respondents indicated they were part of the management structure or executive committee of their organisation. Thus, it can be seen that amongst CEE in-house lawyers, there is a high degree of integration between legal and decision making processes in their organisations, showing how entrusted the senior in-house lawyer has become in the region. The second question evinces a clear majority of respondents increased interaction with the business thanks to threats of cybersecurity breaches and data protection issues, indicating these well-publicised and dangerous matters could serve as an opportunity for in-house counsel to further integrate with business colleagues. The third question relates to usage of law firms, and qualities that CEE based counsel would prefer to see demonstrated by them. The results show that business alignment and organisational understanding is the quality prized by most respondents, with communication and resourcing the next two most popular, showing that the law firm in CEE who best understands a client would be most likely to win business in the region. All of these topics – as well as several others – are afforded more in-depth analysis and discussion within these pages, and can be found within the interview transcripts within this publication, as well as in the nominator quotes provided by our sources.

It was my pleasure to speak to and extensively interview CEE-based counsel, each with their own priorities and challenges, and I would like to thank our sponsors – EY Law and Zięba & Partners – for supporting this publication. I’d also like to thank our extensive network of law firm partners and in-house counsel in the region whose opinions we canvassed during the course of the research. Of course, feedback is valuable and welcomed, so if there are any comments or suggestions please feel free to get in touch with these.

Last but not least, I would like to congratulate all those featured in this year’s list. Their selection means they have been identified as in-house counsel who are amongst the standard bearers of the profession, and as specialists who confront and manage commercial and legal challenges in a way that marks them as market leaders.

Editor |

Sponsor Message


EY logo

EY is proud to be supporting The Legal 500 GC Powerlist: Central and Eastern Europe. In this event, we are celebrating the recognition of in-house counsel in a region which is steadily gaining in importance in terms of inbound investment and geopolitical status.

Congratulations to those who participated in this effort, to general counsel who submitted their profiles and achievements and to The Legal 500 staff for their hard work in evaluating and ranking these submissions.

The in-house legal function is being disrupted every day. Legal issues are becoming complicated and extremely demanding, the leadership of organisations is relying on the GCO in order to navigate through new areas of risk and to reach creative solutions. Moreover, technology is changing completely all the traditional areas of this function, in terms of workflow, delivery of service and communication with counterparties, recipients of the service and external counsel. Moreover, data is becoming a critical issue in terms of monetization, design, privacy and management of cyber risk.

This already challenging landscape is further disrupted by geopolitical developments with a global impact which affect CEE significantly for historic and commercial reasons. It should not be forgotten that a number of countries in this geography have been part of the EU for less than two decades while others are in the process of modernisation.

Identifying challenges is not enough for GCs in this region. They must constantly adapt and show agility, transforming themselves and members of the function. More importantly, they must educate other stakeholders within the organisation to ensure compliance and conformity with legislative amendments, global tax initiatives or political actions like sanctions and trade measures. They must work hard to convince colleagues and C-suite executives to act proactively instead of retroactively, whilst ensuring that the commercial objectives and competitiveness of their organisation is not overly compromised. Finally, they are key drivers in the creation of a culture embracing acceptance, diversity, gender equality and work-life balance.

EY has worked hard to understand the concerns and objectives of the GCO. For this reason, we have been investing heavily in order to create a “Better Working World” for in–house counsel. The acquisition of Riverview Law in 2018 and Pangea 3 in 2019 has given us a market leading ability to reimagine and redesign this function. Our service model has expanded empowering us to work with the GCO in order to respond to the above challenges.

We have significantly strengthened our legal advisory capabilities in core areas like labour and employment law, financial services law, transactions law, digital law and corporate and commercial law. Building on our multidisciplinary model, we can bring to any GC the whole range of the EY services.

In addition, we have embedded Legal Function Consulting, our Legal Operations Platform and Forensic and Integrity Services into our service offering to the GCO. With Legal Function Consulting, we aim to assist GCs in their task to optimise their resources and improve the productivity and quality review of their function. This transformation exercise creates the need for new tools that will enable the GC to achieve the envisaged results. One of these tools, is our Legal Operations Platform, a modular and bespoke solution, the backbone of a contemporary in-ouse legal function, tailored to the needs of any organisation, of any size, language or cross-border presence.

Finally, the continuous strive for transparency and integrity has been the driving force behind the close co-operation between EY Law and EY Forensic and Integrity Services, enabling GCs to process and review bulk data and conduct forensic analysis. We hope that our services will continue to make your life easier and will enable you to spend your valuable time where it most needed.

This event is for all of you. The people and the teams which are leading the way, pushing for innovation, quality, excellence. Congratulations to all of you. This recognition will most certainly work as a stimulus for further progress and hard work in the interests of your organisations.

Zieba & Partners

Zieba & Partners logo

Another year has flown by and we again find ourselves celebrating the achievements of in-house lawyers. We, as a firm, and I personally, am proud and delighted to be involved in this cause for another year, having sponsored The Legal 500 GC Powerlist: CEE since its inception in 2017.

A lot has happened in the last year to make the role of a CEE general counsel even more challenging. In Poland alone, we have faced significant changes to criminal and civil procedures, the VAT system, employment law, and real estate ownership rights.

The title ‘GC Powerlist: CEE’ is deceptive, as it suggests that general counsel in CEE only operate in the Central and Eastern Europe region, which fails to reflect the fact that Polish and CEE companies are becoming more and more global. As a private practice lawyer, I have seen a dramatic change in the nature of our assistance. Five years ago, approximately 75% of our work was of a domestic nature, with the remaining being international. Today, that proportion is completely flipped, with 75% of our work being international. For a CEE general counsel, the consequence of this is significant, resulting in a multiplication of duties and tasks. In the past it may have been enough for a CEE in-house lawyer to focus on the home and immediate neighbouring markets, however, today it is imperative for a CEE general counsel to be abreast of global changes.

And the global economic climate isn’t making a general counsel’s life easy. Ongoing topics such as Brexit and sanctions against China are having a wide impact on CEE businesses. Add to the mix the pressures of efficiency and the introduction of new technology, and you have a general counsel facing a highly challenging and shifting environment.

The GC Powerlist: CEE is a “who’s who” of senior in-house lawyers who have demonstrated that they are able to not only face but succeed in this challenging world, and have shown vision and purpose in doing so. They add real commercial value to their businesses and are increasingly recognised at the highest level. A number of the GCs listed already occupy seats at the boardroom table.

The GC Powerlist: CEE is a definitive line-up of the most innovative, focused and solution-minded in-house lawyers in the region, and we at Zięba & Partners look forward to the possibility of meeting and, where possible, working with this group of leading individuals.

Our sincere congratulations to all those featured.