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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » June 30, 2011
France in Poland
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Rapid Growth from Humble Beginnings
June 30, 2011   
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Robert Jędrzejczyk, legal advisor and partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel, vice-president at the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Poland, talks to Beata Gołębiewska-Chęciak.

GLN is a law firm based in France. Twenty years ago it decided to open an office in Warsaw. Why? What were the beginnings of the firm’s operations in Poland?
The beginnings of Gide Loyrette Nouel in Poland were closely linked with the transformation of the Polish economy. In 1990, GLN in Paris was selected in a tender announced by the Polish government for assistance in creating and launching a stock exchange in Warsaw. The first mission of GLN’s newly created Warsaw office ended in April 1991 upon the creation of the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

From those humble beginnings to a sizable office—what have GLN’s milestones been over these past 20 years on the Polish market?
In my opinion, the firm’s milestones marking its development have been strictly connected with occupying larger offices to meet the needs of our gradually expanding activity. Those early days were somewhat romantic, as our first office was located in a poky flat on Górno¶l±ska Street. The current office of the firm is in the highly prestigious Metropolitan building on Piłsudskiego Square. You can call that progress!

Another important milestone for our firm was in 1998 when we decided no longer to provide general advice in commercial law, but to focus on specialized departments that deal with specific areas of law. At present, we have 14 such departments.

What is the present image of the Warsaw office? What is your current position on the market for legal services? How many employees do you have, assisting how many clients? What sort of transactions do you deal with, and what do you specialize in?
I will say, immodestly, that the firm now has a well-recognized and significant position on the market for legal services in Warsaw, and therefore Poland. We currently employ 45 lawyers and have a portfolio of around 200 regular clients. Of course, the rank of a law firm is determined mostly by the size of its transactions, and we have the pleasure of assisting our clients in some of the largest deals in the country.

Though the firm has always advised plenty of French-based clients in their Polish activities, we have grown to become greatly appreciated now by many Polish clients, including some of the largest Polish companies such as KGHM, PGNiG, PGE and LOT Polish Airlines.

We have also received several awards for our pro bono activity, and an award from the Minister of Justice for our support of young lawyers.

Do companies with French capital account for the majority of your clients? Why?
As I mentioned, that was the case mostly at the beginning of our activity in the early 1990s, but we are also recognized by Polish clients, and at present we have a good parity in our client portfolio, with 40 percent of French companies, 40 percent of Polish entities, and 20 percent of other international players.

Last year, together with Mazars and Gras Savoye, you created a very interesting project entitled Synergy. Could you tell us more about its assumptions and objectives?
We have been cooperating with Mazars and Gras Savoye for many years now, a collaboration through which we have created common teams to assist clients on the Polish market. Together with the managing partners of Mazars and Gras Savoye, we have found it interesting to build on our common experience and display it on multiple layers to our clients. This is how the Synergy project was born. The meetings so far associated with the project (both in Warsaw and Krynica) have proved very popular, and mostly among clients who show an interest in the innovative aspects of our activities.

Fringe benefits, a driving force of development:
employee share ownership, employee incentives Gide Loyrette Nouel, Mazars and Gras Savoye discussion panel at 21st Krynica Economic Forum September 7, 2011
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