Mid-sized Polish firms merge to create 70-lawyer practice B2R Law

'First of its kind' merger of equals unveiled to create three-office full service law firm

B2R Law's founding partners (l-r): Bartlomiej Jankowski, Rafal Zieba and Rafal Stroinski

Two mid-sized Polish law firms have merged in a deal they are dubbing a first for the competitive Central European legal market.

The move, which was agreed in February, sees JS Legal and Zieba & Partners combine to form 14-partner outfit B2R Law Jankowski Stroinski Zieba.

With 70 lawyers working across offices in Warsaw, Krakow and Katowice, B2R Law claims to one of the largest law firms in Poland — Europe’s 10th-largest economy — and the first mid-sized pairing to merge.

Poland's largest law firm is Dentons with 221 lawyers, according to the 2019 annual ranking by the newspaper Rzeczpospolita, followed by CMS (165) and then Domanski Zakrzewski Palinka (152).

In terms of size, B2R Law is on a par with Rymarz Zdort, which was spun out of Weil Gotshal & Manges in January in a deal that marked the US firm’s departure from Central and Eastern Europe, where it had once been a leading player.

The firm will have 32 practices grouped into four areas: advisory, contentious, regulatory and transactional and has ambitions to grow, according to its founders.

It will be jointly led by JS Legal co-founders Bartlomiej Jankowski and Rafal Stroinski; and Rafal Zieba, who founded Krakow-based Zieba & Partners last year when he split with leading independent Kochanski Zieba & Partners, which subsequently rebranded as Kochanski & Partners.

The transactions team will be led by Stroinski, Jankowski will head up disputes and investigations while Zieba will lead the real estate, infrastructure and construction teams.

Jankowski said: "This is very much a merger of equals. Behind the scenes the teams have been working closely together for several months, and it’s especially pleasing to see how enthusiastic everyone has been.”

He said that while the decision to merge was made prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the work to achieve the merger was conducted during lockdown.

Stroinski said: "There is a huge amount of international and cross-border expertise, and I can confidently say that we have one of the leading transaction practices for the technology industry, while at the same time providing state of the art M&A advice for the brick and mortar businesses.”

Zieba added: “We have UK and US law capability and many of our lawyers have either studied or practised law abroad, whether in the UK, US, Canada, Germany or elsewhere,” he said.

Earlier this month, US firm Littler secured an alliance with Polish employment specialists Paruch Chrusciel Schiffter.

In April, CMS Poland hired a team of five private equity lawyers from Clifford Chance to bolster its transactions practice ahead of a hoped-for revival in M&A deals once the Covid-19 pandemic has receded.

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