Tark Grunte Sutkiene and Varul's Estonia office have signed a memorandum of understanding to tie up and, in their words, "form a stronger Baltic partnership.” Going forward, Tark Grunte Sutkiene — which will continue to operate under that name — will employ over 140 lawyers across the Baltics.
The news of the merger — which does not include Varul’s Latvian and Lithuanian offices — follows the ongoing trend of consolidation and strengthening of pan-Baltic firms that started with a similar merger in September 2014 between the Vilnius offices of Tark Grunte Sutkiene and Baltic Legal Solutions (as reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 10, 2014).
That was followed, last year, by news that two of the region’s other major law firms — Lawin and Raidla, Lejins, & Norcous — had traded Estonian offices and reformed as Cobalt (as reported on May 19, 2015). and Ellex (as reported on May 20, 2015). Subsequently, following Borenius’s decision to withdraw from the Baltics, both Sorainen and Cobalt picked up significant members of that firm's team as well (as reported on September 21 and September 23, 2015, respectively). An analysis of many of these changes, and the forces leading to them in the Baltics, was published in the June 2015 issue of the CEE Legal Matters magazine.
According to a statement released by Tark Grunte Sutkiene, it’s “expanded team creates the strongest mergers and acquisitions, litigation, energy, capital market, banking and finance, competition, and other practice groups in the Baltics."
In the statement released by the firm, Ivars Grunte, the Chairman of Tark Grunte Sutkiene’s management board, welcomed his new Estonian colleagues: “TGS has always been at the forefront of Baltic law firms. The competition in Estonia and the Baltic market in general is fierce, therefore new and brave approaches to serving the client’s needs are necessary. I am convinced that the renowned brain power behind our new partners in Estonia will give a positive lift to our Baltic team of trusted advisers."
What connects all the recent changes on the Baltic legal market, is the pursuit of the highest quality in legal services,” said Eugenija Sutkiene, Managing Partner of Tark Grunte Sutkiene in Lithuania. "I feel that excellence is best accomplished by working as a team together with partners that share the same values. Therefore, I’m very pleased about the present developments and looking forward to the next stage of our partnership."
Martin Tamme, the Managing Partner of the former Varul Estonia, commented on the rationale behind his office’s decision to join with Tark Grunte Sutkiene: “Varul Estonia has witnessed excellent growth within the past few years, however, our ambition is to be number one in the Baltics. We are very enthusiastic about taking this substantial leap towards our goal." Founder and Senior Partner Paul Varul added: ‘We see the three teams complementing each other nicely and are excited to be working together with professionals of this calibre."
Tark Grunte Sutkiene’s announcement came several days after announcements that the firm’s Partner and Head of M&A in Estonia Risto Vahimets had moved to rival Raidla Ellex (as reported by CEE Legal Matters on April 8, 2016) and that Partner and Head of Competition in Estonia Rene Frolov had moved to Fort (as reported by CEE Legal Matters on April 1, 2015) — and on the same day that a large team reported having split off from Tark Grunte Sutkiene in Estonia to found a new firm, somewhat confusingly called TGS. For more on that story, which involved 16 of Tark Grunte Sutkiene’s 23 lawyers (before its merger with Varul Estonia), click here.
Editor’s Note: After this article was published, CEE Legal Matters received clarification from the Tark law firm that it remains in “strategic cooperation" with Tark Grunte Sutkiene, despite the latter’s agreement to tie up with Varul’s Estonia office as well. Thus, at least at the moment, Tark Grunte Sutkiene does not operate under that trademark in Estonia, and the firm/network has, essentially, two Estonian offices: One operating as Varul, and one operating as Tark.
On a related note, following Varul Estonia’s agreement to enter into a strategic cooperation with Tark Grunte Sutkiene, the firm’s former Latvian and Lithuanian offices left the network to tie up with other firms (as reported by CEE Legal Matters on April 18th and 19th, respectively).
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