Balkan firms look to bolster alliance

Ten firms from South East Europe (SEE) are working together to form a regional powerhouse.

The SEE Legal Group was formed in 2003 between national firms from Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia & Montenegro. It has since expanded to include Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia and Turkey, with Slovenia set to join in March.

Chair Patricia Gannon, of Serbian firm Karanovic & Nikolic, said EU accession for the alliance countries was the key to a growth explosion for the firms.

“Investment in this region to bring it up to EU standards is putting us on the map in terms of investment opportunities,” said Gannon. “There are huge infrastructure and utilities requirements. We come to London once a year to continue our relationship with the top UK and US firms who have no offices in the region.”

In the short term the firms plan to remain independent.

“We don’t have any exclusive relationships, nor do we want any,” added Gannon. “We have about 10 firms who give a lot of work to the region.”

Relationship firms include Allen & Overy, Denton Wilde Sapte, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hunton & Williams, Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons, Slaughter and May, and White & Case.