“Thank you for everything, this is the way to go. Congratulations!”, wrote Zsofia Petroczy, Legal Counsel of the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, of the first GC Summit, held on September 10-11 at the Sofitel in Budapest. And her response was echoed by most of those who attended the two-day conference.
Over 120 senior in-house counsel from across Central and Eastern Europe, including General Counsel from such diverse and far-flung places as Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine registered to attend the GC Summit sponsored by Wolf Theiss, Gide Loyrette Nouel, and Schoenherr. A large number of representatives volunteered to speak to the audience about subjects of expertise, which resulted in dynamic presentations about compliance, managing external counsel, and managing regulatory affairs, among many others. Keynote speakers included Marie-Anne Birken, the General Counsel of the EBRD, who led off Day 1 of the event with a fascinating presentation about Inspiring Law Reform, and Pal Kara, the General Counsel of MOL, who led off Day 2 with insights into some of the challenges faced by General Counsel when their companies grow into international players.
Birken, who attended all presentations after kicking the conference off on Thursday morning, echoed Petroczy’s enthusiasm for seeing the event replicated in the future, saying: "Clearly this summit should remain on the calendar and I have no doubt that it will go from strength to strength."
The event in Day 1 was Chaired by Wolf Theiss Partner Bettina Knoetzl, who introduced the speakers, managed the schedule, and guided the day’s proceedings over 10 different sessions, lunch, a cocktail function hosted by Gide Loyrette Nouel and dinner on the Spoon restaurant boat on the Danube. Day 2 was hosted by CEE Legal Matters Managing Editor Radu Cotarcea, showing admirable stamina early in the morning after leading many of the guests on a late-night guided tour to Budapest's nightlife.
Natalia Belova, the Head of Legal at Food City in Russia, explained her reasons for attending the event — the first conference ever held specifically to address best practices, strategic planning, and the day-to-day challenges facing General Counsel and Heads of Legal in CEE: "My main goal was to talk. Not ambitious maybe, but true. I wanted to talk to all these people and to feel what they do, what they expect from their work, where they doubt, what is the future of EU legislation. And I reached the goal.” Belova described the event as "really amazing,” and praised the organizers for finding "really cool people who have not only great experience but can share it,” and claimed that, “as for me: I am 100 % happy."
Cotarcea concluded: "The GC Summit IS the General Counsel who carved out precious time to join and exchange best practices and we hope even more will decide to join next year's conference. A big thank you goes out to our event partners Wolf Theiss, Gide Loyrette Nouel, and Schoenherr, the support of which was critical to the success of the event."
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