No one ever wants any legal hassles but from time to time the need for legal counsel can occur. If you live in a foreign country, barriers such as language and a lack of knowledge regarding local laws puts many expats at a disadvantage should a legal matter appear. The law firm of Mališ Nevrkla Legal (www.mn-legal.eu) has been taking care of expat legal concerns since 2003.
“I started working for Freshfields (an international law firm) in 1998,” says Daniel Mališ, founder of Mališ Nevrkla Legal. “Three years later I went to New York to study law at New York University.”
With a focus on contract and intellectual property law, Mališ received his law degree and passed the New York bar exam. He returned to the Czech Republic, and subsequently passed the Czech bar exam.
“It´s a bit strange I passed the New York exam first,” he laughs. “But naturally I feel more comfortable with Czech law.”
With the country´s permission to legally practice law taken care of, Mališ´ next decision was how to go about it.
“I had the option of working in an established law firm, but knowing the type of law I wanted to focus on, plus still use my English and US law education, I realized I would need to work in a big firm,” he says. “But big companies were focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions law and that wasn´t interesting to me.”
So Mališ made the tough decision to strike out on his own, admitting that the beginning was not easy.
“It was different than setting up your own firm, for example, in the early 90s,” he says. “In 2003, there were many law firms and lots of competition which made it difficult.”
Mališ stands by his belief that if you are providing high quality legal service you can succeed and adds that “setting up your own firm gives you more opportunity to be creative and use your own ideas.”
So from a sole proprietorship, he slowly began adding more lawyers and growing his firm, Daniel Mališ & Partners. One of his biggest challenges in the beginning was finding highly skilled people able to deliver the perfect service he was striving for.
“It wasn´t easy to find high quality people, especially when you are a new firm,” he says. “The more known you become it´s easier to attract high quality people. I was fortunate enough to find very good people at the beginning and grow the firm.”
His expansion plans took a big leap in 2007 when a former colleague from Freshfields, Luboš Nevrkla, joined the team. In July 2009, Nevrkla became a partner and the company rebranded itself as Mališ Nevrkla Legal.
The team of eight lawyers, four legal assistants and two office managers focuses on a variety of legal concerns, including business law, contracts, real estate law and litigation. Mališ says about one-third of their clients are expats with the rest made up of Czech corporations and individuals. He says until recently most of the assistance they provided to foreigners was in the area of real estate law. Now, with the economic crisis causing problems in the housing and mortgage markets, Mališ says the firm has seen a decline in real estate cases. However, he says the firm hasn´t been hit too hard in this economic downturn as they have a variety of areas they specialize in.
“Work has just shifted to other areas,” he says. “We have less real estate matters but more contracts and litigation.”
Helping foreigners set up a business in the Czech Republic and then assisting with ongoing legal counsel for the company as well as family law are two other areas in which the firm often assists foreign clients.
Expansion is currently on Mališ´ mind, first within his Prague 2 office complex. In December 2009, the firm plans a move across the hall to digs about twice the size of their current office space. The three to five year plan calls for having between 20 and 40 employees plus expanding their cooperation with international law firms.
“We currently have an alliance with a law firm in the US, an want to expand this network to US firms in other states as well as in the UK,” he says.
This type of alliance has a number of benefits, including the mutual exchange of knowledge and clients, easy referrals and it´s a bonus to clients who may have an international issue that needs to be handled. Mališ says it´s easier for them to only have to cooperate with one lawyer.
Overall, Mališ is pleased with his firm and the help they are providing, both to locals and the international population.
“I´m very happy,” he says. “This gives me a lot of satisfaction.”