The newest member of Eurojuris is the first law firm to represent the country of Serbia within the network. Positioned in Belgrade, at the heart of the Balkans, Stankovic & Partners signed up after a recommendation by neighbouring member firm Matesa & Kapitan in Croatia.
The Serbian firm has a strong international client base ranging from IT to food and beverage, providing corporate and commercial, regulatory, dispute and arbitration services, and with a track record in investment arbitration proceedings, competition and anti-trust.
There are eight lawyers and four trainees, serving business clients locally and worldwide, in a country where opportunities and incentives are attracting high levels of interest and investment, particularly in green and brownfield development and automotive component production. Serbia also has significant natural resources such as lithium, attracting international mining companies from Australia and Canada.
The country applied for membership of the European Union in 2009. Accession negotiations are expected to complete by the end of 2024, allowing the country to become a full member of the EU by 2025.
Opportunities to collaborate
And being in this halfway house brings both negatives and positives to collaboration with other parts of the world, explains senior associate Andjelka Radovanovic whose main areas of work are in corporate and labour law.
“Our laws are being amended to match up to European regulations, and we have some work still to do there, but being on that track attracts overseas interest. Equally, we find companies eager to do business while Serbia is open to other markets, such as those in the east, in Russia and beyond,” she says.
Croatia will join the Schengen Area from 1st January 2023 and with access to the port of Koper in Slovenia and the Danube river leading to Black Sea, the country has strong transport communications. The region is less expensive than much of Europe and is offering significant benefits and incentives to those investing in green or brown field sites, or where significant local employment opportunities are created.
Andjelka adds: “Working with foreign clients who are interested to come and invest in Serbia is the reason we joined Eurojuris: to find new opportunities around the world.
“We like to work closely with founders and representatives, building strong relationships, and it is important to have good connections with other law firms. We need to be able to provide our clients with reliable referrals, to firms that we know and have spent time with. In return, we are keen to collaborate where there are clients eager to do business in Serbia.”
The firm is also able to practise in neighbouring Montenegro, helping to attract clients to Stankovic & Partners such as the North American owned Molson Coors Beverage Company, which recently bought the biggest Serbian brewery and another in Montenegro.
Cultural exchange and knowledge sharing
As well as building personal relationships, Andjelka says the firm was drawn to Eurojuris by the value of cultural exchange, sharing knowledge and learning within the network. And after joining the recent practice group meeting in Cologne she describes her first impressions of the network and the event as: “Just perfect, with such nice welcoming people.”
The referral to the Eurojuris network came from Zlatko Mateša, partner at Croatian member firm Mateša & Kapitan. He adds: “When I was asked if I could recommend a Serbian firm which would be a good addition and fit for Eurojuris membership, immediately I thought of Stankovic & Partners in Belgrade. My firm have collaborated with them on a few occasions and have only praise for the professionalism, dedication and lawyer-client relationship they bring to the table.
“I believe they will prove to be an invaluable part of our Eurojuris community in promoting mutual cooperation, exchange of knowledge and networking among our members.”
Welcoming the firm, Eurojuris president Olivier Vibert comments: “Referral and recommendation lies at the heart of our network, sparking connections between members to support their clients’ interests. But it is also the best way for us to find new members. The endorsement of the network by an existing member carries the greatest weight to the new firm, and a member proposal provides confidence of the incoming firm’s ethos and expertise.”