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Old Faithful: GCs on Returning to the Same Legal Advisor

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Looking at the CEE In-House Matters Deal 5 interviews over the past three years, approximately two-thirds of GCs said that the reason behind choosing a specific legal counsel was their successful cooperation in the past. We identified and structured those key elements and criteria they used in making their decision, with the most salient arguments presented below.

The Reliable Advisor

First and foremost, GCs looked at the end result that a long-term partnership might lead to, which is trust and an understanding of companies’ needs. “The long-term cooperation, and therefore the great trust,” as Trei Real Estate’s Matthias Schultz put it. “It is always about the people,” Sunly City’s Marek Sakk commented, adding that using the same legal experts means they “already know how we think and where we want to go.” 

According to INVL Baltic Sea Growth Fund’s Nerijus Drobavicius, collaboration with the previous advisor “was relatively easy, as they know what the deal-breakers for us are and, therefore, they can properly address red flags to the transaction documentation.” 

“They understand our needs,” Solitea’s Martin Cigler also pointed out. “Often, we let them negotiate some legal issues with the other party directly, because they know our position and standards. This simplifies our work and speeds up the transaction process.”

Or, as Orion’s Benas Poderis put it, “we know what to expect from them, they know that we are very pragmatic and straightforward with our processes, and they already know our appetite for risk and investment strategy – all making it easy to work together.”

Proven Expertise 

GCs also highlighted specific professional traits that have become significant factors in opting to work with their old legal advisor. For Kofola’s Martin Pisklak, working with Onisko & Holesova was a good choice, as “their scope of work is wide – reviewing sales/purchase contracts, corporate law agenda, due diligence work, SPA negotiation, litigations, and much more,” and “they are able to cover the Czech Republic and Slovakia.”

Likewise, broad expertise was an important rationale in returning to the previous advisor for Vimetco Group’s Dragos Voncu: “our collaboration goes beyond legal assistance services in financing projects, as Zamfirescu Racoti Vasile & Partners is our trusted legal advisor on all types of mandates, including corporate governance matters, mergers and acquisitions, energy and natural gas, capital markets, competition, and arbitration and litigation.”

“I find it very valuable to be able to rely on a single firm with respect to matters spanning from planning, construction, leasing, banking, and transaction support – the full life cycle of property development and investment projects,” Apollo-Rida’s Rafal Nowicki commented. 

And expertise is also valuable when it’s specific. The EBRD’s Konstantin Olefirenko and Restart Energy’s Armand Domuta highlighted that factors such as having “a good working relationship with the borrower” and “a vast experience in trans-border transactions” could also swing a GCs judgment call when it comes to doing repeat business with a law firm.

Work Habits and Synergies 
Beyond expertise, GCs pointed to several professional traits that were important in – and also work synergies that developed through – working together. For example, Penta Real Estate’s Damian Grzywacz explained his choice by pointing to the “great team spirit between companies.”

Zlota 44’s Katarzyna Goryszewska highlighted that the advisor’s “team is fully involved in projects in which they advise,” and partners “are always available and do not try to be in several transactions at the same time.”

Evernord’s Arnas Vedeckis noted that “TGS always goes the extra mile to meet our high standards.” Similarly, Tarentum’s Bora Tokyay said that “we could see how they always put themselves in our shoes and ‘owned’ our issues and concerns as if they were theirs.” For Grubb’s Caroline Roboh it all boiled down to the law firm “making us always feel like priority clients.”

CA Immo’s Ingo Steinwender highlighted that, with their legal advisor, “common transactions are implemented in an ‘autopilot’ mode. This means in particular that Greenberg Traurig and we are a well-coordinated team, that we trust [and understand each other] humanly, and that Greenberg Traurig is fully aware of our requirements and standards.”

And finally, AEW’s Xavier Aubrun, Monimoto’s Andrius Bruno Rimkunas, and Studenac’s Michal Senczuk respectively pointed to qualities such as “abilities, trust, and availability,” “professional, open, humble, and straightforward,” and “responsiveness, fast-thinking analysis, and problem-solving, as well as the ability to think outside the box” as the pivotal elements they took into account when considering new work with their previous advisor. 

The Rule of Fun

Ultimately, Orqa Holding Limited’s Srdjan Kovacevic brought up an unwritten rule in ‘the GC handbook’ – “I had various degrees of pleasure and displeasure working with other legal counsels [and] realized that if you find a lawyer that you actually enjoy working with, you better make sure you stick with them.” 

The analyzed Deal 5 interviews were published between June 2020 and September 2022. Companies and positions were current at the time of their respective publishing.

This article was originally published in Issue 9.9 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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