Anastasia Hancock reports
HAVING been seriously hit in the downturn, the Hungarian market is struggling to right itself. Stabilisation has not been helped by a number
of factors which have threatened its security, such as the
election of a new government and the potential introduction of a new civil code. ‘While there are signs of
recovery the recession continues to dent confidence
and the downturn in transaction based practice areas
looks set to continue in the short term’ says Péter
Berethalmi of Nagy és Trócsányi Ügyvédi Iroda.
‘The Hungarian legal market is now hugely competitive
as firms compete for work in the recession hit
A wave of large-scale privatization enticed a number
of global firms into the market which also benefitted
from the lucrative financings and PPP deals on offer.
However, the recession bit, the privatisations came to
an end, and the Magic Circle firms did a disappearing
act beginning with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in
2007, Linklaters in 2008 and Clifford Chance shortly
after that. And as Judit Budai of Szecskay Attorneys at
Law points out, ‘the competitive pressure posed by
independent firms to lower the fees has also contributed to this large-scale departure’.
They did so leaving in their wake a highly skilled and
experienced generation of Hungarian lawyers. As a
result, the downturn in Hungary has been characterized
by the formation of a number of new domestic firms.
Oppenheim sprung out of Freshfields Bruckhaus
Deringer while Andrékó Kinstellar was created when
Linklaters left. Clifford Chance made the decision to quit
the country when its partners banded together to form
Lakatos Köves & Partners.
However there are signs that international firms have
not entirely lost interest in Hungary. Gide Loyrette
Nouel announced in its global strategic review that
Budapest would be made its CEE hub, and was quick to
make some hires such as Lakatos Köves and Partners former banking head.
‘With respect to big mergers between law firms, we