The ever-shifting sands of the Baltic legal market have moved again, with the recent round of law firm changes affecting the Estonian market most markedly.
On April 8 it was announced that experienced partner and head of M&A Risto Vahimets was leaving Tark Grunte Sutkiene to join the Tallinn office of Ellex. This was followed on April 13 with the announcement that 16 lawyers, including six partners, were leaving Tark Grunte Sutkiene's Estonian practice to set up a new firm named TGS.
The following day, Tark Grunte Sutkiene then revealed it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Estonian office of Varul and that the two firms would be working together going forward.
Finally, on April 15, the remaining eight lawyers in the Estonian office of Tark Grunte Sutkiene rebranded as Tark.
Following all those changes in Estonia, the Lithuanian office of Varul announced on April 20 that it would be joining forces with the Latvian and Estonian offices of Primus to establish Primus as the latest pan-Baltic firm.
These developments are latest in a series of changes in the region in the past few years that have fundamentally reshaped all three markets.
It all started back in October 2012 when the Latvian office of Varul left the firm to join together with Swedish group Magnusson - it woud later split with Magnusson and set up as Vilgerts in November 2014, along with the former Belarus office of Magnusson, before expanding into Lithuania in February 2015 and establishing Vilgerts Loor in Estonia in May 2015. The Estonian and Lithuanian offices of Varul then merged with BDO Zelmenis & Liberte in January 2013 to re-establish Varul as a pan-Baltic brand
In February 2013, Red in Estonia merged with Letlaw in Latvia, which rebranded to Red, before both changed their name to Primus in January 2016.
In September 2014 the Vilnius office of the Baltic Legal Solutions group announced it was to join together with Tark Grunte Sutkiene, creating the largest firm in the Baltics. Following that loss, in 2015 eight lawyers from Glikman Alvin & Partners - the Estonian branch of the Baltic Legal Solutions group - split from the firm and set up LinkLaw.
Perhaps the most significant of the recent changes took place in May 2015 when two of the leading firms in the region, Lawin and Raidla Lejins & Norcous, announced they would be swapping their Estonian offices and rebranding as Cobalt and Ellex.
Later in the year, Finnish firm Borenius announced it would be leaving the Baltic market. Most of the team subsequently merged with Cobalt in September 2015, excpet for 13 Lithuanian lawyers - led by Vilnius managing partner Daivis Švirinas - that took the opportunity to join up with Sorainen.
With most of the major firms having undergone some kind of change, it seems likely this latest move could bring this period of mergers and demergers to a close. With a generational shift taking place at the top of a number of firms, however, the possibility of more to come is very real.