Neglected by foreign advisers for years, the Central and Eastern European (CEE) legal markets enjoyed a few moments of popularity in the press as the decade turned. Most notably, the once-formidable force in the region’s transactional space, Weil, Gotshal & Manges closed its three local branches in Budapest (January 2018), Prague (November 2018) and Warsaw (November 2019).
As the only major Wall Street firm with sizeable CEE coverage (excepting obviously White & Case’s very different model), there were specific reasons behind Weil’s withdrawal. These included a strategic move to focus on the key money centres (the firm also left the Middle East in 2017), a huge amount of local government-related work exposing it to the political turmoil and a large domestic client base not inclined to pay the fee levels demanded by the US elite. Continue reading “Letter from… Warsaw: Weil’s withdrawal from CEE marks a new phase, not the end, of international firms’ regional domination”
In mid-October, when Legal Business decided it would dedicate this column to analysing the Belgian legal market, there was still the outside chance that it would appear in our first post-Brexit issue. By the time the piece was written a few days later, the UK Government had conceded defeat on its pledge to take the country out of the EU by the end of the month, triggering yet another delay to the process.
Not that the Brussels legal elite was surprised. Located in offices a few metres from the rooms where the Brexit negotiations have dragged on for almost three years, local counsel have had more than enough time to prepare for possible outcomes – deal? No deal? No Brexit? ‘After the referendum people were concerned about what would happen, but things have smoothed down,’ notes Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer local head Vincent Macq. ‘I don’t think there is any firm that sees it as a concern now.’ Continue reading “Letter from… Brussels: Brexit convulsions prove no problem for Brussels hands as the age of tough antitrust enforcement proves a boon”
Joe Andrew, the architect of Dentons’ global strategy, is not known for pulling his punches. As such, his stance on staffing the African practices of international law firms is typical: ‘Why would you look to Europe or the US? It’s parochial, it’s a residue of colonialism, and it borders on racism.’
The firm’s chair warms to his theme. ‘There are 54 countries on the continent, and to different degrees they’re all experiencing an incredible democratisation of information. There’s talent everywhere. We don’t agree with our competitors who believe that the best way to service clients is to hire people from Europe.’ Continue reading “Africa rising – Foreign firms strive to cover the booming continent”
Protracted arguments over Brexit have led a divided Britain to the point of exhaustion. In the months leading up to the June 2016 referendum, offshore firms were concerned about the potential impact of a ‘Yes’ vote – although perhaps less so than some of their onshore counterparts. Even before the financial crisis, there had been a continued diversification by larger firms in the major offshore jurisdictions away from a reliance on the UK economy.
Since the referendum, offshore firms in the British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have been dealing with the problems of continued uncertainty that Brexit has created for their clients and advising them in relation to investment opportunities that may arise once it is eventually resolved. Continue reading “Offshore: Deal or no deal?”
Baker McKenzie is pushing on with its profitability drive having picked Buenos Aires for its fourth business service centre some five months after putting an estimated 350 London-based support staff under consultation.
On the other side of the Pacific in an unusually expansive move, Cooley has today (12 March) confirmed it will open in Hong Kong after hiring Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s corporate partner Will Cai. Continue reading “International round-up: Bakers launches fourth low-cost hub in Argentina as Cooley targets capital markets with Hong Kong office”
Remember the days when Russia was the El Dorado of the Western legal elite? Potent New York outfits like Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom forged hugely lucrative businesses catering to Russian clients, while oligarchs and their top-dollar disputes were regulars in London’s commercial courts.
Just half a decade on and those days seem a distant memory. Chat informally with local partners and, once you get past the party line about it not being so bad, it is clear they are spending increasing chunks of their working lives merely trying to stay in the game. Continue reading “Letter from… Moscow: Apocalypse now beckons as sanctions and turmoil batter foreign lawyers in Russia”