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“For 25 years we didn’t really have a legal practice in Albania because the state thought it was best that prosecutors also advised the defendant,” says Përparim Kalo, managing partner at Kalo & Associates. “So lawyers weren’t really needed until 1991, when a new bill established the Ministry of Justice.”
In 1994, after a year in-house at a large insurance company, Kalo got his licence and created what became Kalo & Associates. The Tirana-based firm is now the largest in the country, with four partners and 32 lawyers, and was highly commended at The Lawyer’s recent European Awards.
In May 2008 the firm opened an office in Pristina, Kosovo, with two local partners.
“We opened in Kosovo because we felt we had to,” stresses Kalo. “We had a lot of requests for advice because we were seen as having the expertise. We used to refer clients to local firms, but they said they weren’t satisfied with the level of commercial knowledge.”
The firm has been a success there too and is advising French conglomerate Boygues as the preferred bidder for Pristina International Airport. But the Kosovo office will be the limit of the expansion; Kalo & Associates is a member of the SEE Legal network, which imposes a strict ‘no competing’ rule on its members.
Not that Kalo minds - he has enough on his plate. The firm has branched out from its corporate roots, moving away from just acting on the buy-side of M&A deals to advising on renewable energy projects. The move chimes nicely with the market, in particular the appetite for green investment coming from Italy.
The firm has also taken advantage of Albania’s burgeoning aviation industry, acting in aircraft leasing and purchasing deals and developing a group of specialised lawyers to handle the cases.
Kalo & Associates has even found its way onto some of the largest international mergers, for example Mars-Wrigley, advising on the effects of mergers on the Albanian market.
SEE Legal may frown on competition, but fortunately for Kalo it has no problem with ambition.
Managing partner: Përparim Kalo Turnover: €1m (£890,000) Number of partners: Four in Albania, six in Kosovo Number of equity partners: Two in Albania, six in Kosovo Number of lawyers: 32 Number of fee-earners: 32 Number of offices: Two Locations: Albania, Kosovo Main practice areas: Corporate and business licensing, commercial contracts, banking and finance, tax and employment, property, litigation, infrastructure and natural resources, IP and telecoms Main clients: Bechtel Int, Vodafone, Philip Morris, Alcatel Lucent, Société Générale