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I began practicing law more than 30 years ago. It runs in my family and I guess this is how I acquired my affinity towards it. Even during the communist period in Bulgaria, being a lawyer was among the few relatively independent professions – unconstrained by political, financial, and other pressures. This is another major reason I became a lawyer. The rule of law is something I was born and raised with.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to nearly all businesses in the logistics and manufacturing sectors in Central and Eastern Europe, enough time has now lapsed that identifiable trends and opportunities are beginning to emerge. CMS Partners Ana-Marija Skoko, Ivan Gazdic, Iain Batty, and Lukas Hejduk agreed to share their thoughts about the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on logistics and manufacturing developments in their local markets and across CEE.

It was nineteen years ago, but I remember it vividly as if it were yesterday: fresh out of law faculty and green with excitement, I was sitting in my very first job interview when the question fell: “Do you know anything about mortgages?” I started reciting: “A mortgage is a real right of a third person …,” when my future mentor smiled and exclaimed: “Ah, never mind, you will learn!”

For our Checking In feature, we reach out to partners and heads of practice across CEE to learn how specific practice areas are faring in their jurisdictions. This time around we asked firm Energy experts: What, in your view, is the most effective scheme currently in place in your jurisdiction to attract investments in renewable energy? If you had to pick one, what additional step from the regulators do you believe would have the most positive impact?

As Europe begins a tentative re-opening following several difficult months of quarantining, social distancing, and working-from-home, we spoke to CMS’s Warsaw-based Employment Partner Katarzyna Dulewicz and Vienna-based Dispute Resolution Partner Daniela Karollus-Bruner for their perspective on the process.

According to the 2019 CEE By the Numbers issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine, almost two third of all lawyers and almost half of all partners at ranked Romanian law firms are women. As Romania’s population, economy, and (therefore) legal market are much larger than its chief competitors in both categories, its achievements in this area are particularly significant. Romania’s most prominent female managing partners insist that, indeed, sexism, in the Romanian legal industry, is essentially a non-factor.

The novel coronavirus has sent markets into a tailspin and forced the scrapping of many plans for this business year. Commercial law firms, their businesses closely tied to the way economies ebb and flow, have been forced to adapt. This global phenomenon is in some ways particularly poignant in Greece, which was finally, after a decade of darkness, showing signs of returning to the light. Commercial Greek law firms, excited about the prospects of a highly-anticipated economic recovery, have discovered they’ll have to wait just a little bit longer. Still, they insist, good times are just around the corner.

I was born in Moldova and obtained my first degree in law from a Moldovan university 20 years ago. Since its independence in 1991, Moldova – a small landlocked country located between Ukraine in the East and Romania in the West – has struggled to survive, being torn apart by various geopolitical interests, political havoc, corruption, and economic fluidity. The legal industry has struggled as well. Although a lot has changed in my time as a lawyer, I cannot confidently say that the legal industry in Moldova has witnessed tremendous growth.

When I was asked to write this editorial by CEE Legal Matters I started to wonder how I could describe the current situation in Central and Eastern Europe. The first half of the year will definitely remain marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, this editorial will not be focused on the pandemic, on measures taken (or not taken) by the governments in the region, or on what the consequences will be. Instead, I will try to provide an overview of the market, specifically as it relates to our business in this part of the world – and how I expect it to develop in the years to come.

In March of 2019, relative unknown Zuzana Caputova won the Slovakian Presidential election, becoming the first woman and – at 45 – the youngest person ever to hold that office. With a background as an environmental lawyer and human rights activist, Caputova is largely viewed in Slovakia as a unifier, taking strong and reasonable approaches to even apparently intractable problems. Her success has inspired a degree of hope for the future from her former peers and colleagues in Slovakia’s legal community.

In 2009, deep in the throes of the global financial crisis, Mykola Stetsenko, a partner at Baker & McKenzie in Kyiv, stepped away from that secure position to start his own law firm. His ambitious move paid off, and now, eleven years later, the firm he launched – Avellum – is among the most successful and highly regarded in Ukraine.

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