24-year anniversary of the Forum!

12th Balkan Legal Forum – The Modern Lawyer

6-7 JUNE 2024


18:30 - 20:30

Welcome Reception

InterContinental Hotel Sofia

08:00 - 09:00

Registration Opens

09:00 - 09:15

Welcome Remarks

Welcome remarks: Borislav Boyanov, Founder and Co-chair of the Balkan Legal Forum, BOYANOV & Co., Sofia

Opening remarks: Prof. Joerg Menzer, Noerr, Bucharest

09:15 - 09:30

The Sixth Generation Law Firm – Digitally enabled legal practice

Keynote Presentation

Speaker: Rob Millard, Cambridge Strategy, Cambridge (Recorded)

09:30 - 10:15

What skills and competencies does the 'Modern Lawyer' need?

Prof. Joerg Menzer, Noerr, Bucharest

Natascha Doll, Freshfields, Hamburg
Panagiotis Drakopoulos, Drakopoulos, Athens
Timur Bondaryev, Arzinger, Kyiv
Gus Papamichalopoulos, Kyriakides Georgopoulos Law Firm, Athens

10:15 - 11:00

The impact of AI and legal tech on the practice of law and what should firms be doing NOW? How are small and mid-size firms going to compete with Big Law investing heavily in Legal Tech and AI?

Alex BirsanFilip & Company, Bucharest

Prof. Dr. George Dimitrov, Dimitrov, Petrov & Co. Law Firm, Sofia
Tijana Kojovic, BDK Advokati, Belgrade
Sebastien Bardou, LexisNexis, Vice President of Strategy for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Paris
Oguzhan Arslan, Microsoft, Istanbul

11:00 - 11:30

Coffee Break

11:30 - 12:15

Legal advice to our clients on new technologies including AI. There are a growing number of cases around the world with clients objecting to the use of ‘their’ data. How should modern lawyers position themselves to advise clients on these evolving areas?

Karolis Kacerauskas, Ellex, Vilnius

Judit Budai, Szecskay, Budapest
Marcin Maruta, Rymarz Zdort Maruta, Warsaw
Yoanna Stefanova, K&L Gates, Luxembourg
Dr. Roman Heidinger, Cerha Hempel, Vienna

12:15 - 13:00

ESG | it is not about "doing good," it’s about the future success of your firm!

In this interactive session, speakers and panelists will discuss the growing importance of ESG to the future success of law firms.  All key elements of an ESG strategy for the legal profession will be covered, from ESG fundamentals and the key drivers of an ESG strategy (i.e. clients, talent, and many other stakeholders) to ESG in relation to the current geopolitical tumultuous environment and the impact on a firm's organisation and operations.

Robert van Beemen, DRB Group, The Hague

Visar Dobroshi, Recura Financials, Kosovo
Radina Tomanova, International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA), Sofia
Eftim Eftimov, 1% Change, Sofia

13:00 - 14:00


14:00 - 14:45

M&A – what are the trends and the topical legal issues – is your M&A team fit for the future? Technology, insurance, etc.

Viktoria Szilagyi, Lakatos, Koves and Partners, Budapest

Mia Kalas, Selih & Partners, Ljubljana
Darko Jovanovic, Karanovic & Partners, Belgrade
Erik Seman, Barger Prekop, Bratislava
Diana Dimova, Kinstellar, Sofia

14:45 - 15:00

“Postcard” from Ukraine

Timur Bondaryev, Arzinger, Kyiv 

15:00 - 15:30

What “practice areas” will your clients need – is the future full service or boutique?

Armchair discussion

A client and a law firm consultant:

Velko Dzhilizov, Member of the Management Board and Legal Director of UniCredit Bulbankand
Stefanie Hoogklimmer, Venturis Consulting Group, Frankfurt

15:30 - 16:00

Coffee Break

16:00 - 16:45

Will Alternative Dispute Resolution kill or enhance our litigation practices – what does the future hold?

Ingeborg Edel, Binder Grosswang, Vienna

Boris Savoric, Savoric & Partners, Zagreb
Simel Sarialioglu, Paksoy, Istanbul
Atanas Valov, Penkov Markov & Partners, Sofia
Dr. Dogan Gultutan, Baker McKenzie, London

16:45 - 17:30

Free advice! A panel of law firm consultants provides answers to any of your questions.

Stephen Revell, Making Change Happen, Singapore/London

Willibald Plesser, Attorney at Law, Vienna
Mike de Luca, The Legal 500, London
Anthony Notaras, MD Communications, London
Stefanie Hoogklimmer, Venturis Consulting Group, Frankfurt

19:00 - 23:00

Gala Dinner

Panorama Restaurant, Hotel Marinela, Sofia. 

Admission by ticket only. 

08:00 - 08:50

How to become a Professional Wellbeing advocate in your workplace

This session will be in the form of a workshop in which participants will actively explore some of the practical skills of the Professional Well-being advocate.  It will look at opportunities for creating Professional Well-being communities even in organisations with a fundamentally different dominant culture. It is a session in which we will explore why the advocate to become effective at engaging with others, first of all, has to explore their Professional Well-being.

Moderator: Chris Owen, London

09:00 - 09:15

Day Two Opening Remarks

09:15 - 10:00

Business Services. Do small and medium sized law firms need ‘non lawyer’ support functions – how many people; what is essential; what are the alternatives?

Aku Sorainen, Sorainen, Tallinn

Malcolm Hochenberg, Proskauer, New York
Alexandra Doytchinova, Schoenherr, Sofia
Dora Petranyi, CMS, Budapest

10:00 - 10:45

Effective Client Relationship Strategies – Practical Advice for Client Satisfaction, Retention, and Attraction

Anthony Notaras, MD Communications, London

Arthur Bombard, Fidal, Paris
Florian Klimscha, Freshfields, Vienna
Anne MacDonald, Harper Macleod, Glasgow
Andrea Fluture, SunjkaLaw, Novi Sad

10:45 - 11:00

Legal Directories – Are they worth the effort?

Ted Talk

Mike de Luca, The Legal 500, London

11:00 - 11:30

Coffee Break

11:30 - 12:00

Reaching Beyond – Best ways for small and mid-sized firms to “internationalise”

Armchair discussion 

Herman Knott, Kunz Lawyers, Cologne; and 
Gerard Tanja, Venturis Consulting Gorup, Wassenaar

12:00 - 12:45

Financial Management. Costs and investments (and profit) - how to make the right decisions for the future

Robert Gawalkiewicz, Soltysinski Kawecki & Szlezak, Warsaw

Adina Chilim-Dumitriu, NNDKP, Bucharest
Kristijan Polenak, Polenak Law Firm, Skopje
Peter Petrov, BOYANOV & Co., Sofia
Marcell Nemeth, DLA Piper, Vienna

12:45 - 13:20

Why Your Workplace Needs a Professional Wellbeing Strategy?

This session will look at the increasingly critical role of Professional Wellbeing in the legal workplace and its central role in building and maintaining a high performing and resilient workforce (as well as assisting in recruitment and retention).  As the workplace becomes a more complex environment and with a changing set of expectations amongst the workforce, the traditional focus on individual self -care and a series of standardised HR welfare policies have become less relevant.  The session will look at new approaches to Professional Wellbeing built around a more organisation-centred integrated strategy with a greater emphasis on actively promoting within the workplace a less hierarchical series of relationships and on building a greater sense of psychological safety and belonging.

Moderator: Chris Owen, London

13:20 - 14:30


14:30 - 15:15

Working with International Law Firms (and getting more work from them)

Stephen Revell, Making Change Happen, Singapore/London

Attila Csongrady, A&O Shearman, Bratislava
Lena Marcinoska-Boulange, Wardynski, Warsaw
Zdravka Ugrinova, DGKV, Sofia
Gerard TanjaVenturis Consulting Gorup, Wassenaar
Andrea Miskolczi, InterAlia Consulting, Vienna

15:15 - 15:45

Coffee Break

15:45 - 16:30

What do Our Associates Think – a panel of four associates from around the region will tell us

Ema Mendjusic SkugorDivjak, Topic, Bahtijarevic & Krka Law Firm, Zagreb

Alin Grapa, Filip & Company, Bucharest
Ema Tasevska, Polenak Law Firm, Skopje
Nina Vukmirovic, MARIC & Co, Saraevo
Rumen Cholakov, Barrister, London

16:30 - 17:30

The Client Speaks: What should law firms do in the future that they are not doing today?

Borislav Boyanov, BOYANOV & Co., Sofia


Mirona Bengescu - Legal & Corporate Affairs Manager JDE South Central Europe
Oleg Roibu, eMAG Group
Milena Vaneva, Eurobank Bulgaria, Sofia
Michail Petrov, Schwarz IT Bulgaria, Sofia

17:30 - 18:00

Closing Remarks of the Forum

Stephen Revell, Senior Co-Chair of Law firm management committee of the IBA, Singapore/London