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Evan Lazar is Co-Chairman, Global Real Estate, Global Vice Chair, and Chairman of the Europe Board for Dentons. We spoke to Lazar from his home office in Prague about how his firm has responded to the COVID-19 crisis and to gain his perspective on how the crisis has affected the real estate industry in CEE, and on what he expects the long-term consequences of the crisis to be, both on the economies of the region, and on the legal industry in particular.

The move by the Big 4 firms – Deloitte, KPMG, EY, and PwC – to capitalize on their client lists and their multi-disciplinary capabilities by extending the ability of their legal arms to compete with traditional law firms is by now well-established. In Austria, their legal arms have begun competing aggressively for talent as well.

Sounds frightening, huh? When I first encountered this expression a couple of years ago, I thought it was one of those buzzwords that had been created by accountants or other financial wizards to tackle invasively curious tax administration people. “Bottomline” also sounded familiar: that is the very last figure in your financial statements; the one that interests you the most.

Before being elected President of Ukraine last May, Volodymyr Zelensky had virtually no experience in public office. Despite his inexperience – or perhaps because of it – over 73% of the electorate concluded that the comedian and entertainer was the right man to replace Petro Poroshenko, the previous President, and now Zelensky finds himself, at 41, leading an entire nation.

According to CEE Legal Matters’ 2019 By the Numbers report, the gender balance at commercial law firms in Poland up to the senior associate level is fairly even, with 44.58% being women. However, at the partner level things change drastically, with women representing fewer than 25%. Even then, other reports suggest, many of the women lawyers who do make partner do so not at the larger, high-profile law firms, but at smaller boutiques. The “Women in Law” foundation in Poland was created to address this imbalance, and other forms of gender inequality in the legal industry, with a special focus on legal tech.

In The Corner Office feature of CEE Legal Matters we ask Managing Partners at leading law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. In light of current events, the question for this online occurrence of the feature is: "What have been the top three most often asked COVID-19 related questions that you have gotten from clients in the last month?

Over many years, the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian legal markets have been dominated by the same four firms, although the names they operate under have sometimes changed. At the very end of 2018, however, the market in Lithuania, the largest of the Baltic states, shook. when a large team split off from one of those four firms, and several months later merged with a leading independent firm in the country.

In August 2007 crime fiction admirers in Latvia were thrilled to read a book, Kitchen Justice, describing an influential litigation attorney, the trial cases his office handled, and his secret relationship with judges and public figures. The protagonist was immediately recognized by readers, and the legal community was able to identify heroes less known to the public: the judges in the legal proceedings, who were privately communicating with the prominent attorney about the cases they were working on. It was apparent that the disguised author had based his fictional novel on a real-life characters and cases, and without delay, Latvia’s Chief Justice convened an extraordinary session of Supreme Court judges to set up a special panel of five reputable judges with a mandate to investigate the novel’s plot. The commission interviewed dozens of judges who had been identified in Kitchen Justice.

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: What major initiative or new plan does your office (or firm) plan – if any – for 2020?

Love them or hate them, conferences are a fundamental part of the successful commercial lawyer’s calendar. But time is precious. Those calendars are full. It’s vital for conference organizers to get them right, and critical for lawyers to choose wisely in determining which events to attend and which to skip.

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