Regulatory law firms ranking

Polish law firms best in personal data services

Ranking 2017-04-10
Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland and Traple Konarski Podrecki came out on top in our ranking*. New legislation on data protection will be a challenge for the sector.

Regulatory law firms ranking - personal data services
Regulatory law firms ranking - personal data services

Key points

Personal data lawyers advise on compliance. Major part of the law firms’ activities are related to adjusting corporate practices and policies to comply with legal requirements in the area and conducting general audits. Lawyers traditionally represent clients in front of data protection regulator (GIODO), including cases of database registration, throughout and following controls. They also aid with approval of standard contractual clauses by GIODO. Additionally, they represent clients before courts in cases related to data protection and so-called protected secrets, and prepare non-disclosure agreements.

Teams cooperate with telecom law departments. Sometimes the same persons are responsible for both branches of the law. Such is the case of Chajec, Don-Siemion & Żyto law firm. Tech companies providing so-called digital content (for example Samsung or Apple) operate with information on millions of users, so in case of a conflict prowess in both personal data and telecom laws is required. Often, for example at CMS or WKB, both data and telecom teams cooperate within a larger TMT (technology, media, telecommunication) or TMC (technology, media, communications) departments.

Polish law firms lead the pack. Personal data law was introduced to the ranking for the first time this year. Well-known and medium-sized Polish law firms turned out to be the best: Wierzbowski Eversheds Sutherland and Traple Konarski Podrecki. Kraków-based Barta Litwiński and CMS also scored high in the ranking (second tier). Despite many personnel changes Bird & Bird fared well (third tier) along with Maruta Wachta, which cooperates with the Ministry of Digitisation, DLA Piper, and PwC Legal. The latter is a law firm operating within PwC where a personal data team is led by Anna Kobylańska, formerly tied to CMS.

Significant personnel changes. In October 2016, Maciej Gawroński, a former managing partner at Bird & Bird, left for Maruta Wachta. Bird’s data team led by Izabela Kowalczuk-Pakuła was strengthened by Daria Mientkiewicz from Dentons, Agnieszka Sagan-Jeżowska from Uniqua, and Marian Giersz, who previously worked at Andrzej Krasuski’s Tel-Lex law firm, among others. Ewa Kurowska-Tober from Linklaters became a partner at DLA Piper and head of intellectual property and new technologies department. Piotr Zawadzki from Hogan Lovells moved to Linklaters to a position of a senior lawyer and patent spokesman. Meanwhile Joanna Matczuk moved to SMM Legal, where as a partner she will co-head an intellectual property team.

RODO-related consultancy overshadowed other issues. The EU regulation on personal data protection will come into force in 2018 setting unified standards across the European Union and regulating a right to be forgotten. Law firms dealing with the issue included CMS, DLA Piper, Traple Konarski Podrecki, and PwC Legal. Firms also advised parties on Allegro sale by Naspers to Permir, Cenven, and Mid-Europa partners funds. Allegro had a substantial subscriber base and ensuring the transfer complied with regulations was a task for Clifford Chance (buyers’ side) and Allen & Overy (seller’s side).

What’s next

The EU regulation on data protection will generate workload for law firms for several years to come. Not only will they have to adjust corporate policies to the new legal requirements, but also continuously cooperate with enterprises on changing the way data is being handled. Lawyers are also helping the government to prepare a new law ensuring conformity of the Polish legal system with the new regulation. MinDig Anna Streżyńska has convinced Maciej Kawecki, who worked at Barta Litwiński between 2010 and 2014, to join the ministry. Legal team from Maruta Wachta supports the ministry in preparing a draft bill on personal data as external advisers. 

Piotr Semeniuk contributed to this analysis.

*The ranking includes law firms active in the area of regulatory advisory, that is related to public corporate law that is being enforced by such institutions as UOKiK, URE, or KNF. An award ceremony took place on March 23, with winning firms receiving diplomas. It is the first ranking in Poland accounting for qualitative data. Results are based on survey data gathered by PI analysts among the biggest companies from regulated sectors and law firms themselves.

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Justyna Jawor
Fmr. Legal Affairs Analyst
Justyna Jawor
PI Alert

EU summit: Member States launch discussion on financing joint defence initiatives

State of play

Leaders approved appointments to top posts. At the EU summit that ended on Thursday night, they nominated Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as head of EurCom, former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa as head of EurCou and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as head of EU diplomacy. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni abstained from voting for von der Leyen and voted against Costa and Kallas. This means that Meloni is preparing for tough negotiations and may demand a high political price in return for his party's support for von der Leyen in her approval in the EurParl. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán voted against von der Leyen and abstained on Kallas.

They adopted the Union's strategic agenda for 2024-2029. Over the next five years, the Union's goals include a successful digital and green transformation by "pragmatically" pursuing the path to climate neutrality by 2050. Another objective is to strengthen the EU's security and defence capabilities.

Von der Leyen spoke of EUR 500 billion for defence over a decade. This was the EurCom estimate of needed EU investment presented by its head at the EurCou meeting. Poland and France were among the countries that expected the EurCom to present possible options for financing defence investments before the summit, such as EU financing of common expenditure from a common borrowing. This idea was strongly opposed by Germany and the Netherlands, among others. In the end, von der Leyen decided to postpone the debate until after the constitution of the new EurCom, i.e. in the autumn. And the summit - after von der Leyen's oral presentation - only launched a preliminary debate on possible joint financing of defence projects.

Poland has submitted two defence projects. These might be co-financed by EU funds. On the eve of the summit, Poland and Greece presented in writing a detailed concept for an air defence system for the Union (Shield and Spear), which Prime Ministers Donald Tusk and Kyriakos Mitostakis had put forward - in a more general form - in May. In addition, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia presented the idea of jointly strengthening the defence infrastructure along the EU's borders with Russia and Belarus. Poland is pushing for the EU to go significantly beyond its current plans to support the defence industry with EU funds and agree to spend money on defence projects similar to the two proposals. But EU states are far from a consensus on the issue.

Zelensky signed a security agreement with the Union. The document, signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels, commits all member states and the EU as a whole to "help Ukraine defend itself, resist efforts to destabilise it and deter future acts of aggression". The document recalls the EUR 5 billion the EU intends to allocate for military aid and training in 2024 (in addition to bilateral aid from EU countries to Kyiv). It says that "further comparable annual increases could be envisaged until 2027, based on Ukrainian needs" i.e. it could amount to up to EUR 20 billion. Ukraine's agreement with the EU comes on top of the bilateral security "guarantees" Ukraine has already signed with a dozen countries (including the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy). As Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed in Brussels, talks are also underway between Ukraine and Poland on the text of mutual commitments on security issues.

PI Alert

KO wins elections to the European Parliament

KO received 38.2 per cent of the vote and PiS 33.9 per cent, according to an exit poll by IPSOS. Konfederacja came in third with 11.9 per cent, followed by Trzecia Droga with 8.2 per cent, Lewica with 6.6 per cent, Bezpartyjni Samorządowcy with 0.8 per cent and Polexit with 0.3 per cent. According to the exit poll, KO gained 21 seats, PiS 19, Konfederacja 6, Trzecia Droga 4 and Lewica gained 3. The turnout was 39.7 per cent.

According to the European Parliament's first projection, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which includes, among others, PO and PSL, will remain the largest force with 181 MEPs in the 720-seat Parliament. The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), whose members include the Polish Lewica, should have 135 seats, whereas the liberal Renew Europe club (including Polska 2050) will have 82 seats. This gives a total of 398 seats to the coalition of these three centrist factions (EPP, S&D and Renew Europe) on which the European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen has relied on so far. The Green faction wins 53 seats according to the same projection, the European Conservatives and Reformists faction (including PiS) 71 seats and the radical right-wing Identity and Democracy 62 seats.