Romania promises rich pickings for City firms

The Romanian legal market is set to boom within the next 18 months and City firms may be looking to take advantage according to Nicholas Hammond, former head of Taylor Joynson Garrett's Bucharest office, who has moved to a US firm Arent Fox based the in city.

Bucharest, he says, is a burgeoning market for lawyers, with plenty of work available in restructuring in the utilities market and a lot of energy projects.

Hammond says rumours that Freshfields, Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance are all looking to set up in Romania are rife in the City, although Freshfields and Allen & Overy both strenuously deny the claims.

“There is lots of interesting work in the region,” Hammond continues. “For those with a strong stomach who can hold their nerve, there are great benefits available.

“The legal market is set to double or treble within the next 18 months.”

Hammond even argues that the Romanian market could profit from the Kosovan war. He believes that once the conflict in Yugoslavia is over the Romanian construction market should profit from the immense amount of recovery work that will be needed.

“There are currently a lot of Romanian construction companies working to rebuild Israel, so it is likely, being very cynical, they will benefit from rebuilding work in Belgrade.”

The Arent Fox office in Bucharest, which opened in October, is looking to expand from its current level of two ex-pat partners in proportion to the expanding legal market.

Hammond has advised the State Ownership Fund on the mass privatisation scheme and the Romanian government on the harmonisation of its law with that of the European Union.

Hammond first moved to Romania to establish a Bucharest office for Hicks Arnold in 1990.

Between his departure from Taylors last year and his new appointment with Arent Fox – which is based in Washington DC but has a strong eastern European presence – Hammond worked as a private consultant.